School's Dress Code Leaves Girls Wondering WTH They Can Wear

by Ashley Austrew

A proposed ban on tight pants has girls in one North Carolina school district speaking out

The school year is almost over, but if you thought that meant an end to dress code controversies, think again. A North Carolina school district just proposed a ban on all “tight pants” — including skinny jeans — that’s left many students wondering what the hell they’re actually allowed to wear next year.

The New Hanover County School Board is making changes to schools’ dress code policies and may prohibit girls from wearing leggings, skinny jeans, or any other “tight fitting” pants, unless their butt is covered by a long shirt or dress. Per the actual policy, the shirt or dress must “cover the posterior area in it’s entirety” — so, basically you either wear a frock over your jeans or switch to baggy pleated trousers. After all, you wouldn’t want to risk anyone knowing you have hips and a butt.

Even worse, School Board Vice Chair Jeannette Nichols told WECT the policy change was inspired not by the usual “effort to eliminate distractions” excuse schools usually peddle, but by something even more offensive: as a protective measure to keep “bigger girls” from being bullied for wearing tight jeans. So, rather than punishing bullies, they’re just going to make it impossible for girls to get dressed. Makes sense, right? I didn’t think so.

Students and many others in the community are understandably not having it. Since the measure went public, people have been tweeting about it using the hashtag “policy8520” and the vast majority of their tweets are calling out the board for what they see as an overly restrictive and offensive policy.

More surprising, though, is that a school board member is also speaking out against the change. Lisa Estep told Star News she thinks students have enough to worry about with the current dress code, and she thinks “banning a fashion item to combat bullying” just doesn’t make sense. “Instead of spending time judging students for what they wear, how about we just worry about helping our students learn?” she said. “And besides, I happen to like skinny jeans.”

School dress codes probably started with good intentions. Administrators wanted a safe, focused environment where kids could come to learn. Now, it seems that dress codes themselves have become a distraction, as they become more focused on gender, body types, and policing students’ self expression. Kids have to spend more and more time worrying about getting sent to the principal’s office for daring to have a “posterior,” rather than just focusing on their studies.

If you want to prevent bullying, changing the way kids dress isn’t the way to do it. Instead, we should be focused on teaching kids to respect the people around them, regardless of their size or shape or what style of clothing they happen to be wearing. It’s already nearly impossible for parents to find school appropriate shorts, skirts, dresses, and tops. At some point, we have to stop pretending the clothes are the problem and deal with bad behavior, preferably before kids have nothing left to wear but a burlap sack.