Of course, this is just one side to the story of the debate over dress codes. Some people, usually those in academic councils, favor the idea of uniformity in clothing – or rather forming a set of rules that will govern the way students dress because of issues concerning distractions, modesty, and appropriateness.
We decided to weigh the pros and cons of dress codes in today’s society.
Uniforms are a form of clothing that can help a perceiver identify a person to be a part of a certain group, organization, or culture. They are also “effective symbols of codified rules and the internalization of those rules.” (Craik, 2009). These definitions in itself establishes a clear reason why it is necessary in academic institutions. Schools are places where discipline is demanded. So uniforms as being worn by students, in turn, may act as a concrete agreement signaling the student’s (or wearer’s) approval of such rules. Uniforms may also give off a sense of “equality” in that there is no pressure to look too fancy or too ragged since everybody is wearing the same thing. With dress codes, students will still understand that they are still residing in an academic institution where professionalism is still a primary focus.
However, modesty and the avoidance of distracting clothing is still the most common idea raised by those in favor of dress codes. There are individuals who deem some pieces of women’s clothing as “too distracting” to their male schoolmates. According to Changing Fashion: A Critical Introduction to Trend Analysis and Meaning, “Ellis and Symons (1990) found that “men are more likely to view others as the objects of their sexual desires, whereas women are more likely to view themselves as the objects of sexual desire” (Lynch & Strauss, 2007). So to solve this “dilemma”, students are often required to wear clothes that do not reveal too much skin. Moreover, in an article (High School Dress Code: The Battle for Keeping Up Appearances by Noelle Swan), Jean Kilbourne said that “while a girl’s choice attire does not grant anyone permission to assault her, it does impact on the way other’s perceive her”.
Dress codes are oppressive to a certain point, especially to female students. They restrict freedom of expression to begin with. Although yes, schools try to mold their students into becoming well-rounded, decent, and professional individuals, destroying the mere individuality of their students dissolves the goodness of their goals. Most people disregard the fact that schools are still a place where one not only grows mentally/physically, but also emotionally on a personal level. The idea of what seems to be modest or immodest varies for every person, so setting a basis or set of rules that will restrict people into clothing themselves with whatever they want is oppressive, one-sided, and politically abusive.
With regards to the issue that some women’s apparel are distracting, Ruthan Robson relayed in an article (High School Dress Code: The Battle for Keeping Up Appearances by Noelle Swan) that this idea “First implies that all boys are heterosexual, and also that girls bear the responsibility for how boys act and respond to their sexuality”. It is quite unfair that women cannot dress the way they want to out of fear or blame that their male peers would do something inappropriate. It is also unfair that some of those who favor dress codes immediately generalize all boys to be incapable of controlling bad behavior that may lead to rape and other incidents of the same sort. In this aspect, dress codes promote the rape culture, as well as slut-shaming. Why are women often burdened to strictly change what is innately beautiful for them while men aren’t strictly told to change for the benefit of women?
Another point: some dress codes are simply impractical, or worse, are downright ridiculous. Why will you ask your students to wear long sleeved blouses and long skirts when it’s a hundred degrees outside?