The Problem with Dress Codes


Isabella Panasko, Writer

Any girl who has attended a public school knows the struggle of a dress code, dredging through her closets to find something to wear that won’t drown her in her own sweat all day. But her dresses are too revealing, her shorts are too short, and her shoulders are “distracting from education.”

Many females feel as if the dress code is targeted towards them and that they don’t get any freedom even though boys don’t get judged on what they wear. Most schools ban half of a typical girl’s clothing: leggings, shorts, yoga pants, tank tops, and off-sleeve shirts. Most girls like the trendy things going around but can’t wear them because of school dress codes. No girl wants to walk outside in granny shorts and a long sleeve shirt when it’s 79 degrees outside.  

Districts will say that some clothing is too distracting for others. If those people get distracted that’s their own fault- I remember a lot of counselors and principals saying, “don’t worry about others, worry about yourselves.” In Tennessee a girl wore a shirt promoting gay rights and the principal made her call her parents to get her a new shirt because she was too much of a target. A 6th grade girl from New Orleans was told to leave the classroom because she wore her hair with braided extensions and that was against the hair policy.

To learn more, I asked a few female students about their experiences with dress code

Isabella: What have your experiences been in public schools with dress codes?

Taylor: When I was in 5th-9th grade I wore uniforms and it was not a good uniform policy. People say uniforms are [good] but they really aren’t. Uniforms are so overpriced and they all don’t have plus girl sizes.

I: If you could change any one thing about dress code what would it be and why?

T: Less restrictions. We should be able to express ourselves and not have any worries. When it comes to shoes we shouldn’t have a problem with what we wear: these shoes were made for a reason.

I: Do you feel as though dress codes are sexist towards females?

T: Yes, very much, because our shirts go to our waist and we’re forced to tuck them in or if we wear crop tops we’re forced to change into a different shirt. When we wear certain clothing we get told it’s “ inappropriate”. I wasn’t allowed to wear hoodies in 9th grade because it wasn’t formal enough. I’m in 11th now and still have problems with dress code.”  

Another female student was asked about dress codes.


I: What have your experiences been with dress code? Were they positive or negative?

Amber: Very negative because dress codes don’t let people be themselves and express who they are. Especially for females. We like to express ourselves through fashion and with strict dress codes and uniform policies we aren’t able to do that.

I: If you were able to make one change about the dress code policy what would it be and why?

A: If I could change anything it would be the stupid clothing we get dress coded for like sandals, crop tops, slides. It’s not fair to us how half of our wardrobe can’t be used because of the stupid dress codes.

I: Do you believe that dress codes are strictly towards girls or girls clothing?

A: Yes, because boys clothes are easy. Our style is going to be a little more revealing because we’re wearing girls clothing. We should just start wearing basketball shorts and T-shirts for how much staff complains about the clothes we wear all the time. Not all of us can afford to go and buy new clothes because it’s “too revealing”.


Style is a way we can tell people about ourselves without saying anything, but some of us can’t be who we are because of dress code policies. People love to express themselves through fashion and clothes, but it’s hard to do that when the staff is on you all the time if your shorts are too short or your shoulders are too exposed.