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Abolish Robbinsdale Dress Codes

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Abolishing Robbinsdale Dress Codes
Nicole Richman

“It’s hot outside. Instead of shaming girls for their bodies, teach boys that girls are not sexual objects” read the signs that Lindsay Stocker taped on the walls of Beaconsfield High School. Many girls attending schools all across America have been battling against the sexist and unjust dress codes, including me. Ever since I was a little girl self expression has been the most important thing to me. Fashion has always meant a lot to me, as I plan to pursue it after high school.

I’ve noticed that in my four years attending Armstrong, i’ve not once witnessed a boy getting dress coded, yet almost every single one of my girlfriends have been pulled out of class to change for as little as their shoulders being deemed as ‘distractions’. Distractions to who? Boys? Boys cannot be distracted from shoulders in class, yet girls can be pulled out of class to have a conversation about their outfits? Is my education less important than my fellow male students? Is the length of my skirt more important than me being in class studying for my finals? A full length turtleneck and appropriate jeans was what I got pulled aside for a couple of months ago. The same outfit that I wore to my grandma's house just the week before, that she actually loved. The issue? Mr.Dahl noticed that I wasn’t wearing a bra and I watched as he pointed it out to Ms.Sundberg before she pulled me aside. She again told me that I was a distraction, but I don’t seem to understand why Mr.Dahl was distracted by nipples that you couldn’t see unless you stare hard enough. I cannot comprehend why nobody would think twice about Mr.Dahl’s nipples poking through his shirt, or any other male students nipples but mine were such a concern, even though I don’t look that different in that department (if ya know what i’m sayin).

Last week while being dress coded again, Ms. Sunberg told me that the male teachers and officers were all talking about my nipples. She told me my outfit was inappropriate, but I couldn’t help but think that 50 year old men discussing my nipples was a more concerning issue. She asked me why I wanted that attention but what she didn’t understand is that me not wearing a bra (besides the comfort factor) is actually aiming for just the opposite. It’s about desexualizing the female body. Dress codes lead to sexualiztion of women from a very young age. Today, again, when I was dress coded for ripped jeans with a hole under my thigh I tried to explain this sexualiztion to the principles. They got very angry when I brought that up and tried to dismiss this, saying that it had nothing to do with that and it was about my outfit being inappropriate. But it has everything to do with that, because if my 17 year old body wasn’t sexualized, you would never think of it as inappropriate, just how you would never think of visible male nipples or male legs as inappropriate but as a natural reaction to the weather. Sophomore year on my birthday my substitute teacher announced to the whole class that “just because it’s my birthday does not mean that I can come to school in my birthday suit.” Men will never understand how degrading it feels to have to miss class because of a skirt, and as a fellow woman I don’t understand how Ms. Sunberg and other teachers do not see this as everyday sexism that can also lead to body image issues.

Today after a teacher came to my class and pulled me out to go to the office, she informed me that a man thought it would be okay to take advantage of her because of what she was wearing. This broke my heart that somebody put in her head that her outfit was responsible for this treatment in any way. Dress codes instill at an early age the idea that if a boy grabs or assaults a girl, she is at least partially to blame. “Under no circumstance should girls be told that their clothing is responsible for boys’ bad behavior” said Cecilia D’Anastasia in her article on girls speaking out about dress codes. If my outfit is such a distraction to boys, maybe we should teach boys to focus better in school, instead of suppressing my self expression to make boys more comfortable.

Girls all over school have dealt with this, one even being pulled into a conference room of male teachers to discuss her nipples showing. Another being pulled aside in a romper because of her “butt hanging out.” I’ve had students tell me that the teachers in the office were talking bad about me and what I was wearing when I wasn’t even there. The feeling is violating and degrading. It makes you feel like you have committed a crime just for expressing your own body. I want an end to this, and I want the administrative to start uplifting women and showing us that we are so much more than our bodies. We are so much more than distractions and that we are not objects made for the male gaze. I want my fellow students to be comfortable in their skin and express themselves without worrying about Mr.Dahl staring at their boobs. I want women to feel free and beautiful and know that they are not and never will be responsible for the male reaction. I want this more than anything. I want evolution. I want equality. I want self expression. I want self love. I want women to take a stand. I am so passionate about this and I am willing to do whatever it takes to make this happen.

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