What Not to Wear…5-Year-Old Edition

What Not to Wear…5-Year-Old Edition

Ahh….School dress codes. What a wonderful way to police what young women wear, while shaming them for having shoulders and legs and simultaneously telling them that it is their responsibility to keep young men’s minds on their studies, instead of sex (as if there is any way to keep adolescents minds off of sex.)

I suppose I understand the need for dress codes. I get that people should be dressed “appropriately” for school, and that if there’s not a rule against certain things, some (small percentage of) students will wear something legitimately distracting (like a balloon hat… or a flashing neon light-up tank top!). But…it seems to me like dress codes are just one more way for society to sexualize women and blame victims of sexual harassment and assault.

For the past few years, articles about schools’ ridiculously sexist dress code policies start popping up in the spring. In fact, last summer Jezebel put out an entire guide of “How to Tell if Your Dress Code is Sexist.” But this one is one of the craziest I’ve seen. A 5-year old (FIVE YEAR OLD!) was required to put a t-shirt and jeans on over her spaghetti-strap dress because it violated the school’s dress code.

I just don’t get it. If this dress too revealing?! (Revealing of what?!) Will the other children be distracted?! (Again distracted by what?!)

I suppose that the school could say that they have to have the same rules for all students or it would be unfair. Which does make sense, but then that brings us back to the initial problem with dress codes. What, exactly, is it about a spaghetti strap that ruins the educational environment? And who’s educational environment are we actually discussing? Clearly, it’s not the person who is wearing the spaghetti strap. No, she is quite comfortable. I have a feeling it’s the young men we’re worried about (and the other young women, but that NEVER comes up. Our society is still far too hetero-centric). We want to protect the young men from the dangers of a woman’s body. We understand that young men cannot control their own sexual desires. Never mind that women have sexual desires too. Never mind that someone can be attracted to another person for a reason other than his/her body.

I can’t help but feel angry that this is now starting with 5-year olds. 5-year olds, who barely know what sex is and are most definitely not yet having sexual desires, are now being penalized for being too sexual. I just can’t handle how ridiculous it has become.

I’m not anti-dress code. I’m really not. But we’ve got to stop thinking of women as sexual objects and finding ways to neutralize their power. It’s 2015 you guys. Let’s stop shaming women for their bodies.



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