THE ARTICLE THAT STARTED IT ALL: EMILY BLAKE COMMENTS ON DRESS-CODING (2014)

Lately my school has been having some troubles with dress code. In the last two years my school district have added “your shorts must be longer than your mid thigh” and “no leggings or yoga pants” to our 2 page student handbook section of school dress. As a girl who will not wear Bermuda short to save her life, I spent a good 3 weeks before school started trying to acquire as many “appropriate” skirts and dresses as I could. The third day of school I wore a denim dress with small cut outs in the side of it, closer to the back, with a long, solid beige cardigan. (I was making jokes about how I belonged on “Amish Mafia” that morning.) I come to last period of the day as one of the 7/30 students in my class that are actually interested in the class, and raise my hand to ask a question. With that, I guess you could see the cutout in the side of my dress. The teacher comes over and tells me to not wear that dress to school again. I agreed and brushed it off with no intention of wearing it again. I expected it to be no big deal. That’s why it shocked me a few days later when I was walking through the hallway to overhear the teacher talking about my dress with the cutout and the cardigan slip during a discussion with my other teachers and advisors about possibly making the dress code more strict. Okay, she’s kind of beating the dead horse but, whatever, right? A few days later I’m walking out of her classroom to which she farewells me “remember not to wear that dress again Emily” , which another teacher overheard and asked about. This led to another conversation about the infamous outfit I wore probably 3 days earlier. Luckily no dress code drama happened for a few months. I wore cute floral skirts with my band tees and tried to have as much self confidence as possible. It was the Friday before spring break. I was in the office in a leather circle skirt,one of the longest skirts I own besides a maxi and an old uniform skirt so I thought I was safe, so when an advisor comes out of her office gives me an inquisitive glare and does the “pull your skirt down” hand motion, I was surprised. I almost forgot about it over the week long break, then at lunch Tuesday my friend told me the teacher she helps during free period was talking about how she wanted to dress code me so badly in the morning but my “arms are too short” so she “couldn’t”. I’m 5’2. My arms aren’t short. I’m short. Also, maybe I should have disclaimed that the “too short skirt” was the old uniform skirt. This went down to almost my knees (sure it was about and inch at most shorter in the back but, hey.) I wasn’t the only one recently even more annoyed by school dress code. Wednesday I was in the media center and my friend walks in and proceeds to tell me she got dress coded. It was 5 minutes after the bell rang. I was cracking some “starting early!” jokes when I got confused because I realized I didn’t even ask her what she had to change out of. She pulls out a pair of sweatpants from her backpack. Sweatpants aren’t against our dress code, so we were mutually confused. She asked our student advisor that was at the library desk if they were in dress code. She said no. But immediately back-tracked to “oh, well I’d have to see them on you.” This is the objective of my rant. I’m sick and tired of the double standard. Cheerleaders are allowed to walk around with uniform skirts that are against dress code, but I’m sitting here in jeans and combat boots scared to wear anything exposing more than my calves. (because there is no way I’m giving up a topshop dress to a cluttered office cabinet in exchange for gym clothes that aren’t even mine). I’m sick and tired of not being able to wear my 40 dollar bikram yoga pants because a 14 year-old boy will not be able to control himself in the middle of a lecture. Thank you school administration, for sexualizing denim shorts.

Emily Blake