The Student News Site of University of North Alabama

The Flor-Ala

The Student News Site of University of North Alabama

The Flor-Ala

The Student News Site of University of North Alabama

The Flor-Ala

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High school dress codes suck

Whitney Veazey

I am here to deliver an opinion on behalf of teenage girls everywhere: High school dress codes suck.

I think every girl can relate to the sweat-inducing, anxiety filled ride of walking through the front doors of your high school with the hope that no teacher looks too long at your skirt. You pull down at the hem, praying that it covers just enough of your thighs to not draw attention. 

The skirt isn’t even too short, it falls a few inches above your knees. It would be more than appropriate in any other setting, but your administrators have decided that boys would get distracted by your legs… or your shoulders… or your collarbone. 

The list goes on into an endless spiral of nitpicky rules that are all based on how boys may perceive a pubescent girl’s body.

My rage against the high-school-sexist-dress-code machine was a slow boil as I walked the halls of my (admittedly shitty) high school. I would occasionally rebel and wear a tank top or *gasp* ripped jeans. I was a quiet revolutionary. More often than not, it resulted in a 20 minute stint away from class, sitting in the in-school suspension classroom until my mother could bring me “proper” jeans. 

I vividly remember my 15-year-old self missing most of my math class so my older sister could bring an appropriate change of clothes. My sister was royally pissed that she had to wake up before her college classes to bring her pesky little sister new clothes. My friend was able to cry her way out of a behavioral mark, but I had earned myself one by asking “Why?” So instead of learning about the quadratic formula, I was learning that the environment I was forced into was built on the systematic de-liberation of women before they even are women.

One of my first stories at the newspaper involved me talking to a girl who arranged a protest against school dress codes. I found her admirable. She was able to do something I never had the guts to do as an adolescent. She was outspoken. I was quiet. She was methodical. I flew under the radar. 

I still think about her now, when I have the courage to speak my mind about something important to me. I hope that she didn’t let the school system take away her spark.

I had completely forgotten about the high school dogma of dress codes until my sister went to a public high school. She had spent the past two years homeschooling, but finally gathered enough courage to return from her senior year.

“Can you believe this?” she said after describing the new rules girls were obligated to follow. They have grown more severe since my graduation. 

Skirts, shorts and dresses can’t be higher than an inch above the knee. I don’t know how many girls own bottoms an inch or less above the knee, but I am willing to bet that it’s not many. Tight clothing is not allowed under any circumstance. Leggings and yoga pants have to be covered by a t-shirt at the risk of being “too disruptive” (a direct description from the handbook).

I felt that slow boil from high school overflow at the prospect of my sister having to deal with the same thing. She is so careful with what clothing my mother buys for her because there is the looming risk of missing class and public humiliation.

In doing this, grade schools are elevating boys’ reaction over girls’ education. In a world that claims to have gender equality, there are still cracks in the structure. Girls are told to hide parts of their body as young as fifth grade. Who looks at an 11-year-old and worries about their shoulders exciting young boys? As a former 11-year-old, I can assure you that none of us were paying attention to each other’s clothing. 

I find it strange that male administrators and board members are always the one who make and enforce the rules. It makes you wonder who the rule was really for.

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About the Contributors
Emma Tanner
Emma Tanner, Editor-in-Chief
Emma is Editor-in-Chief of the Flor-Ala. She is a senior from Killen, Ala. She is pursuing a bachelor's degree in Mass Communications with a concentration in journalism and digital media. She was previously Managing Editor for the spring 2023 semester. She also served as News Editor from Jan. 2022 to Dec. 2022. She was previously a volunteer writer. Her favorite topics to cover are profiles and local news. Tanner has written since her childhood and grew a passion for journalism during high school. Aside from working on the Flor-Ala, she was also a research assistant for a psychological study at UNA and served as CASE ambassador president for the Fall 2022 semester.
Whitney Veazey
Whitney Veazey, Chief Photographer
Whitney is a sophomore from Greenville, Ala. She is working towards a BFA with a concentration in photography. Whitney started at The Flor-Ala in Fall 2022 as a staff writer/photographer and is currently serving as chief photographer.

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