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An Open Letter to Dress Code

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I stand in front of my closet with my arms crossed, glaring at the overwhelming mass of clothes in front of me. My mind whizzes to decipher a code I’ve known my whole life…and my shoulders slump: my sexy shoulders. This round, loathsome hump connecting my arm to my body distracts the boys in my class, so how could I possibly show it in school? My collarbones are striking against my neck, so how could I expect the boys to focus? My belly button mars my abdomen, so how could I not draw attention to myself? Those poor boys with no self-control, no hope of a bettered education… all because of what I’m wearing. I dress in a shirt that buries my bra straps, suppresses my collarbones, and conceals my belly. I slip on my baggy, uncomfortably hot jeans because I cannot wear leggings, shorts, or ripped jeans in fear I’ll be not only be s***-shamed by my school, but also be sent home to change into “proper attire.”


I must be ugly. I must be a distraction that needs to be banished…sent home where I cannot learn because I jeopardize the learning of a boy. This degrades me emotionally, physically, and educationally because you debase my confidence, my sense of self and take time away from my education. I sweat in the blazing sun and broiling classrooms, attempting to be content that my needs are secondary to those of the opposite sex. But I am not a distraction. I am not a s***. I am here to learn, to live, to become my best self, but how can I accomplish goals if I am debating the worth of my body every day? I am taught that boys will sexually assault 1 out of 5 girls… and claim she asked for it because of what she was wearing. Thinking the same way, do I have permission to tackle a boy because he is wearing a football jersey? What if I walked into the principal’s office claiming concentration issues because he had huge muscles? I would be laughed out of the administration office.


It's my body, and I should feel beautiful in it. It is not my responsibility, nor my problem if boys cannot handle seeing my bra strap or my shoulder. Stop sexualizing what isn’t sexual. When it's hot outside, we should be able to wear shorts and a tank top. I'm not looking for sexual attention; I'm dressing for the weather, the exact same as putting on a coat in the winter. It’s demeaning to stand in front of my closet each morning and force myself to put on the “proper” clothes – this debilitating shroud – and tell myself that it’s okay. It’s not. These rules are structured rigorously for girls and vaguely for boys, which not only shames my gender but also my sense of self. It hinders my growth and worth in everyday life and society. My school clothes show that I am a slave to the societal stress and concepts of sexuality placed on females.
I am beautiful. I am who I am, and I cannot be blamed for the lack of self-control or manners towards women in the workplace or school environment. I am more than the object you make me.




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