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Are Shoulders Distracting?

Lorelei Michele Bell, Staff

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In many school across the nation strict dress codes are common. In places like Texas and Tennessee dress codes can even require students to wear long pants during the hottest of weather. Diegueno as a school isn’t very restrictive with what we can and cannot wear. Unlike many other schools girls here are allowed to wear shorts, leggings, pants with rips and tank tops as long as they aren’t spaghetti straps. And guys can wear knee exposing shorts. One of the many arguments against strict dress codes is that it isn’t beneficial to a students education. Students would get up early to pick out an appropriate outfit for school and then worry about being dress coded all day instead of paying attention in class. Although this doesn’t affect boys as much as girls. This is because the clothing that most boys wear isn’t deemed “inappropriate” whereas many of teen girls fashion is considered to revealing for school. Another thought that strict dress codes aren’t beneficial is it teaches kids to be ashamed of their bodies. When students are dress coded for showing too much skin, or being to distracting it creates a feeling of self consciousness. Many think that this is mostly fair but some restrictions are unfair and don’t make sense. One item of clothing that sparks controversy over off the shoulder tops, and if they are distracting or not. I personally don’t believe shoulders are that distracting, but you can never rely on one opinion. So I went out into the world to get some others opinions, including a female student, a male student and a vice principal’s opinions.

I first decided to interview Ella Murray, an 8th grade girl at Diegueno, to get a female’s opinion.  The first question I asked was “Do you think a strict dress code is beneficial?” Her response was a simple no. She believes that people should be able to express themselves in any way they please and having a strict dress code inhibits that. “Strict dress codes stop people from being able to express themselves,” she exclaimed. The next question I asked was “Are shoulders distracting?” She doesn’t agree with the rule against off the shoulders, she doesn’t think shoulders are that distracting. She says, “I mean, they are just shoulders.” And Finally I asked the last question, “Do you think it’s unfair that girls dress code is stricter than guys?” She says yes. She thinks that guys get more slack then girls, and even though girls have more of a selection for clothing they are much, much more limited. A quote from her, “It [strict dress codes] is unfair because they are more lenient with guys than girls.”

Next I talked to David LaRoche, a 8th grade boy at Diegueno. I asked him the same questions as I asked Ella to see if there are any differences in opinion. When I asked him “Do you think a strict dress code is beneficial?” He said “Yes, it is beneficial in some places if it’s not overly strict.” He believes that a school needs some regulations on what you should wear for the sake of learning. He believes that even if some girls don’t think their outfits are distracting or inappropriate other may. Then I asked him “Are shoulders distracting?” he responded by talking about how he doesn’t mind it. “I don’t think they are distracting, I think it’s kind of stupid and that if girls want to express themselves in that way than they should be able to. I have never had to deal with anything like this so I don’t think my opinion is valid” Lastly I asked him,  “Do you think it’s unfair that girls dress code is stricter than guys?” He, like many others, feels that it’s too difficult to compare those two things. He thinks that they way girls and guys dress is so different there is no way you can definitely say that it is or isn’t fair. He says, “If guys wore as revealing clothing as girls do than yes, I agree they should be equal, but they don’t, so they aren’t.”

And lastly I spoke to the vice principal of Diegueno Middle School, Guen Butler. I asked her four questions on her opinion about the topic of strict dress codes. They are based on her opinions and experiences from working in a school in Texas with a strict dress code. The first question I asked was  “Do you think a strict dress code is beneficial?” She stated that she believes that a clear dress code is beneficial to students and not always a strict one. She said, “Students should have the freedom to express themselves in anyway that they see fit.” Next I asked her, “What are your thoughts on schools with very little dress code?” She told me, “I think schools need some guidelines, like something against clothing promoting drugs, gangs, hate speech, and violence.” After I asked her, “Do you think our school has a good dress code?” She thinks that Dieguenos dress code is very reasonable. “All we ask for is for students to be covered up and to wear nothing distracting” she explained. And the final question I had for her was, “Do you think it’s unfair that girls dress code is much more strict than guys?” She says she doesn’t think it’s unfair. She actually thinks that it in reality is quite equal. “If I saw a boy wearing short shorts and a spaghetti strap top, I would dress code him, it’s just not what guys wear.” She believes that if guys and girls wore the same thing they would get dress coded just as much, but guys don’t wear that so they don’t get dress coded.

In conclusion, most people think that a clear dress code is better than a strict one. Although everyone will always have a different opinion on this topic. You will probably never get everyone to agree on a solution to these problems unanimously. In the end, there will always people who think their dress codes are unfair, and others who don’t, and even others that don’t care that much. Just remember, people may be able to limit what you wear, how you talk, and how you act, but nobody can ever take your opinions away.

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