Pursuing an education? Here's what you should wear if you don't want to be sent home.
"What item of clothing will allow me to finish high school?" (via Thinkstock)
Lately, school dress codes have been attracting a lot of criticism. The criticism suggests dress codes are sexist and that they unfairly target women and girls with body-shaming double standards. People on the other side of the argument say, "Hey, rules are rules." The rules given to children about how they can or cannot show their bodies are basically holy scripture, and aren't for us to question or change no matter how archaic they become.
They add, it's important to teach a girl modesty. If she doesn't learn to be ashamed of her body as a wee babe, she'll show up to her first day on the job, fresh out of college, wearing nothing but pasties and a smile!
Who can say who is right?
Until we figure it out, here are simple suggestions for a human woman with a body attempting to get through her mandatory schooling. The codes may not change anytime soon, but at least these tips might keep you from being paraded around in a shame suit*.
*Shame suit sample, one size fits all. Women only. (via ABC News)
1. Be careful about having breasts.
This is a tough one. Breasts are the most obvious of the secondary sex characteristics that separate men and women. Since boys have been told over and over again that women's bodies are sexual objects that they should respond to with disrespect, any glimpse of a breast's top or side could start a sex riot. One way for a girl with a large chest to take responsibility for the behavior of every man around her is to wear really baggy, sexless clothing all her life.
2. Don't wear pants.
So many women just casually wear pants without considering how it might make someone look at your crotch and think about whether or not you have a penis. If they decide you probably don't, the next step is thinking about your vagina and then BOOM, you're being provocative. Even if it's not "sexy," per se, it is challenging gender norms. Ladies, to avoid confusing people about your gender, just wear a skirt.
3. Don't wear a short skirt.
A good measure for how long a skirt should be is where your fingertips reach. If you're fingertips can reach into your closet to pick out the skirt you want to wear, it's fine. Just kidding! Skirts also make people think about your vagina. If your legs are visible they must go all the way up, right? And what's up there? So hide your legs.
4. Don't wear a long skirt.
Oh to be a girl - skirt too short, she's a slut, skirt too long, she's a threat to secularism #JePorteMaJupeCommeJeVeux
— Francesca Michel (@FBoschet) April 29, 2015
In France, a young Muslim woman was sent home from school for wearing a skirt that was considered too long. Okay. In this case, the girl was accused of bringing religion into her secular school with the length of her skirt. If a skirt is long, it's because the girl is being modest (religion). Being modest about showing her legs. Now you're thinking about her legs. That go all the way up. To a vagina. DAMMIT.
5. Don't reveal you have shoulders.
Shoulders are unexpectedly inflammatory. Most women probably see their shoulders as the things connecting their arms to their body, but did you know they're basically "come-sex-me" flags, undulating with every shrug?
6. DO NOT admit you have an upper back.
17-year-old Laura Wiggins wrote a very critical letter after being sent home for revealing almost a third of her upper back to her classmates. (via Facebook)
This older girl was sent home for showing off her f*ck wings. This is a double whammy, because her look includes bra straps (see tip #1).
7. Armpits are a no-no.
"Ticket to the 'gun show?' More like ticket to the 'whore show!'" –The administration at Ida Baker High School, probably. (via WINK)
This teen, Cameron Boland, was stripped of her elected title at the National Honor Society for revealing her joints to all and sundry. She offered to go through the ceremony again wearing a jacket, but her armpits were already out there. People don't forget this kind of imagery.
8. If you dye your hair, you are going straight to hell.
Okay, that might be an exaggeration. This is the body modification section, so we really wanted to drive home the importance of how making any deliberate changes to your appearance WILL make you a target. Everyone else on this list was just existing in the universe with the body they have, but once you try to have fun with your looks, all bets are off.
9. Don't assume clothing appropriate to the occasion is appropriate.
The swimsuit is to be worn under your regular clothes. (via Babble)
One of your biggest challenges is figuring out how to dress for past times that have a very practical type of clothing specifically designed for them. It may seem like you should be able to wear the woman's equivalent of what a man would wear to the same event, but that is simply not true. To take a pool party as an example, boys' shoulders, bellies, legs and backs could never inspire sexual thoughts and feelings in girls their own age, so they're "safe" to be seen. As a girl, your belly button is a portal to sin.
10. DO grow up.
This helpful pamphlet handed out to the graduating class of Biglerville High School in Pennsylvania reads:
"No bellies showing, keep 'the girls' covered and supported, and make sure that nothing is so small that all your bits and pieces are hanging out. Please remember as you select an outfit for the ceremony that we don't want to be looking at "sausage rolls" ... As you get dressed remember that you can't put 10 pounds of mud in a five-pound sack."
One day when you're a successful adult woman, with notions of your body's objective value beaten into you, you'll have some measure of freedom for how you can dress. Meanwhile, keep your head down and get through school, no matter what. Remember: the world wants you to succeed!
There you have it, girls. To avoid criticism and potential expulsion from the place you're learning to read and write, follow the simple guidelines above. Ultimately, people will only respect your body if they don't know it's there.