New dress code targets students, but why?


Avery Kightlinger and her “distracting” shoulders. Deemed inappropriate in new dress code. Photo By: Avery Cameron

Avery Cameron

“Let’s keep it classy” – Principal Cervantes

“I was walking to my third period and it was a hot day… I was wearing some shorts that I myself deemed appropriate, and one of the people on the bikes took me aside and told me that my shorts were inappropriate and then sent me to the office,” said senior Avery Kightlinger. She shared her experience being dress coded, “they told me that it was fine just dont wear them again… I didn’t get any consequences but it was embarrassing.” 

After a new dress code has been proposed by Marissa Cervantes shown in VHS classes,  students have strong opinions. 

Junior London Fletcher in her outfit of the day, displaying her stomach, according to the new dress code this outfit isn’t “classy” Photo By: Avery Cameron

The new dress code reads “No baggy pants, no short-shorts, bare midriffs or undergarments exposed” also mentioned are no gang related clothing or clothing with inappropriate writing. The dress code slide ends with “lets keep it classy” which implies that dressing modestly is seen as classy or more serious. Why would students have to dress modestly to be seen as classy or serious?

Kightlinger continued her interview by describing the dress code as “shameful in a way because I don’t think that anyone dresses with the intent to be harmful or draw negative attention to themselves,” she said.

When asked to speak on this new dress code Cervantes said, “due to this being an area I am still navigating as a new administrator, I am not ready to comment.”

In a poll taken from The Cougar Press Instagram account, 9 percent of pollers agreed with this dress code, 21 of the 210 that voted. And when asked if junior London Fletcher’s black tube top and jeans should be dress coded, 60 voted yes and 207 voted no. But why do they think this? Misogyny? Rape culture? Or just a product of their sexist environment?

Tank tops and shoulders are a big topic of debate within schools dress codes, but why? In writer @lylyanyeson’s opinion article “Why there shouldn’t be school dress codes”, from the LA Times she proposes her opinion about the shoulders debate. “I highly doubt that any boys are going to find collarbones or shoulders distracting. If they do, girls shouldn’t be responsible for that, it’s not on them to control the boys. They should be able to control themselves.” 

Interviewee Rene Marks in her outfit of the day that does not follow new dress code because of midriff. ” Photo By: Avery Cameron

Freshman Alyssa Garo agrees with this and also brought up the shoulder debate in her interview. Garo said, “I can’t show my bra strap but he can wear a muscle shirt. I think that it definitely is not a good idea.” She brought up the controversial topic of sexism and misogyny within dress codes.

“Sexism and misogyny are a big problem within dress codes,” said junior Rene Marks. “I think that dress codes definitely perpetuate rape culture and definitely add a lot to the problem.” Marks continued, “As much as schools want to pretend that dress codes are targeted at all the students it’s especially targeted to the younger girls and it teachers younger girls that we need to cater to men and we need to dress in a certain way so that other people can have an education when in reality how we dress shouldn’t matter.”

This same topic is covered in Laura Bates from her article from the New York Times “How dress codes shame girls and perpetuate rape culture.” She said, “It [dress codes] prepares them for college life, where as many as one in five women is sexually assaulted but society will blame and question and silence them, while perpetrators are rarely disciplined.”

Aja Madrigal in the outfit that got her dress coded, displaying shoulders and stomach that teacher, Lorilee Johnson saw as inappropriate. Photo by: Aja Madrigal

“I got dress-coded in my science class by Ms. Johnson last Friday. She had dress-coded my friend Eisley Martinez and then she saw my shirt and took me outside. When we were outside she told me to go to the office because my shirt was appropriate,” junior Aja Madrigal said. “I am 16 years old and my stomach and shoulders should not be considered distracting and inappropriate.”

Fletcher enjoys getting dressed up for school, when asked how she describes her style she said “I kind of just wear what I want… you know just whatever clashes together.” With the new dress code, Fletcher does not plan to change the way she dresses. She stated, “Absolutely not. I will continue to dress in what makes me comfortable.”