Every School Should Adopt This Feminist Dress Code Policy

High school body-shaming has two seasons: Back-to-school and prom. Every year, these tend to be the peak times that teachers and administration inform girls that their bodies are inappropriate and need to be covered lest the sight of their shoulders distract otherwise studious boys.

Currently, we are in the first season, which means that as girls are busy trying to remember their new locker combinations, schools are busy reminding them to feel ashamed. Already this school year, one dress code incident has gone viral.

Just a few weeks ago, a South Carolina high school principal told girls not to wear leggings unless they were a size 0 or 2, otherwise they would look fat. She was fired shortly after and frankly, good riddance. Most high schools don’t require Body Shaming 101 as a graduation requirement, nor should they.

Finally, though, one school has taken action against body shaming and sexist dress codes in a move that every district should emulate.

Evanston Township High School, just outside of Chicago, enacted a new dress code policy this year specifically to address issues of discrimination and body shaming.

The policy states that, “Staff shall enforce the dress code consistently and in a manner that does not reinforce or increase marginalization or oppression of any group based on race, sex, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion, cultural observance, household income or body type/size.”

Students are not allowed to wear clothing with violent language or hate speech, violent images or pornography, profanity, or anything that depicts drug or alcohol use.

Some clothing that was banned under the previous dress code, like hats, hoodies, and tank tops, are now allowed, as are, “fitted pants, including opaque leggings, yoga pants and skinny jeans.”

Such progressive dress code policies are so rare, even the student who campaigned for the change was shocked to see it happen.

Along with new guidelines, teachers are also being trained to use body-positive language when discussing the dress code and are specifically prohibited from shaming students. The policy states, “students should not be shamed or required to display their bodies in front of others (students, parents or staff) in school. Shaming includes, but is not limited to … accusing students of ‘distracting’ other students with their clothing.”

“I was so surprised and honestly kind of honored that it was changed, and changed so completely,” Marjie Erickson, now a freshman at Tulane University, told TODAY. “They didn’t pick and choose pieces of what we said we wanted. It really stuck to new policies and the new enforcement.”

Erickson worked her entire senior year to get the dress code changed after it was announced during the first week of school that girls would not be allowed to wear tank tops, shorts, or short skirts despite 90-degree weather.

She believed the dress code was discriminatory and unequally enforced, so she worked with the assistant principal, Marcus Campbell, to make a change and surveyed students to see how they felt about the issue.

Erickson wasn’t the only one concerned about the school’s dress code. Other students had called out the policy for years, claiming that students of color or students with more developed bodies were unfairly targeted for violations.

With the new policy, it seems that the school is making a concentrated effort to correct these issues and ensure that the dress code is fair and equal and does not prohibit specific groups from focusing on their education.

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

77 comments

Marie W
Marie W3 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Stephanie s
Stephanie s6 months ago

Thank you

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Stephanie s
Stephanie s6 months ago

Thank you

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Stephanie s
Stephanie s6 months ago

Thank you

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Stephanie s
Stephanie s6 months ago

Thank you

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Stephanie s
Stephanie s6 months ago

Thank you

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Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill7 months ago

I remember when girls could not wear pants to school. When we finally were allowed to wear them, it had to be pantsuits.

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Kimberly W
Kimberly Wallace7 months ago

Glad to know that someone was listening.

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Stephanie s
Stephanie s8 months ago

Thank you

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Stephanie s
Stephanie s8 months ago

Thank you

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