My Clothes Aren’t A Distraction


Kelli Taylor

Students are often torn between wearing comfortable, fashionable clothing and what the dress code allows.

Campbell Hans, Reporter

The first time my clothing was a distraction, I was 12. I remember getting tapped on the shoulder and then being told to not wear my tank top again because it was “distracting” to my peers. It was a hot and sunny summer day, a tank top is appropriate attire according to the weather, as I thought. Only being 12 I got so insecure and worried. So many questions and thoughts rushed to me, wondering what was so wrong with my top? 

Any girl who has the option of choosing what they wear to school knows how difficult it is just to find an outfit. Trying to find something we won’t completely sweat excessively in, something comfortable, but also something within the dress code is a daunting task. Across the country, students have been pushing back against school dress codes, saying they are archaic and unfairly sexist to female students. Locally the conversation has hit several schools, including Classen SAS and Mustang High School 

Although students at Harding Charter Prep wear uniforms, according to students, the dress code, and its enforcement, aren’t immune to scrutiny. Female students get marks for skirts and shorts being too short, but students often wonder why the rule even exists. 

“As a male student, I have never been distracted by, nor heard of any distractions because of the lengths of skirts, or tightness of pants,” said a male student, who wished to remain anonymous. “The fact that seemingly the only one paying attentions to the skirt length/tightness of pants are teachers is concerning. They are interrupting the women students’ education much for than their skirts are ‘distracting’ others education.” 

Freshman Pia Cunningham is a student who has been marked for her skirt length, as well as her “pants being too tight,” which is not addressed in the student dress code.  

“Recently I collected statements from Harding students regarding their opinions, concerns, and stories regarding the inequality in the way the dress code was being carried out,” Cunningham said, as she had multiple students and past students reach out to her. “The universal message I was receiving was that the way the dress code was being carried out unfairly targeted women and feminine presenting people.

“I brought this issue to the administrators, and I’m extremely happy with the way admin handled this issue. They listened, asked questions, and learned exactly how this was making students feel. It is immensely empowering knowing we as a student body are able to advocate for change using our voices.” 

Although the administration here was willing to listen to student concerns, this isn’t the case at every school. Many students struggle to be heard by their administration and are often shut down at the first sign of conflict.

Schools claim to put dress codes in place to minimize the “distractions,” as they say, or to create a “professional work space.” As a female student, I truly question what “distractions” are they trying to prevent? Are the bare legs and the exposed shoulders really a distraction, but a distraction to who? 

“I believe it is wrong to label females as ‘distractions’ as this perpetuates rape culture as well as objectifying females,” said an anonymous HCP teacher. “As a teacher, it is hard for me to know what happens in other classrooms with dress code violations and how the student body feels about it.”

Dress codes throughout schools are targeted towards their female student body, limiting feminine clothing while leaving the door open for masculine clothing. “She is the object and he is the subject,” said Chrissy Mahlmeister in an article for MTV.  When do you ever see a male student getting stopped for the length of their shorts or the shirts they wear? You rarely ever do. Girls are so tired of walking the halls in fear of being objectified because of the cloth on their bodies, and it’s time for things to change.

“I also feel that it would be helpful to have a more discrete system in place for sending females to the office if it is believed that their skirts violate the dress code,” said a teacher. “I would like for females to not be taken out of the learning environment due to the length of their skirt as it would be a disservice to their academics.”

We can’t do much as in changing what the dress code is or just about the dress code it’s self but teachers and staff have it in their hands to make the situations much better for the students by addressing it in another direction.

Women are tired of being objectified because of their clothing, not only in schools but outside of school as well. It is time to change the way we view it, address it, and apply it. All schools are going to have rules, policies, and dress code, but its been long enough of women being the target and the main focus when it comes to those guidelines.