When last we met, I discussed a few questions I had about a New Jersey school’s dress code banning strapless dresses for an 8th grade formal dance. I invite you to refresh your memory on the first two points I brought up about this controversial situation. And here’s the original news article as well.
And now, the rest of the story.
Is this dress code really a violation of constitutional rights?
One particularly vocal parent spoke about this dress code being sexist and going against her daughter’s 14th amendment rights for equal protection.
Whoa. Really? I’m not a lawyer, but saying a school dress code for 8th graders translates to a violation of constitutional rights seems like a real stretch. Adults are supposed to create guidelines for minor children. I don’t know what the dress code for that school says about boys, but there’s probably something about wearing appropriate pants or shirts in there.
The principal’s point is that strapless dresses are “distracting” to boys. A few parents say this is sexist because this makes it the girl’s fault for a boy behaving out of control.
I do agree with the parent about that general stance. Men and boys are 100% responsible for their own behaviors toward women and girls. I also agree that a half inch of fabric isn’t going to be a practical barrier for any determined boy or girl. Ahem.
However, I also think it’s fine to have a more conservative guideline for minors at a school-sponsored event. Straps do keep dresses from falling down, and pulling a dress up all night long is certainly distracting and not very comfortable.
These girls have the rest of their teenage and adult lives to struggle with their body image, fashion trends, and the idea of growing up. Why push this on them at an even younger age?
There’s a clear business opportunity for some enterprising person with sewing skills and some fashion sense.
What if the ban were seen as an opportunity instead of a problem? Seize the moment, put a positive spin on it, and provide creative solutions to the problem. A budding fashion designer or a creative mom with good sewing skills could become the go-to person for working with the dress code. I still think 8th grade is a little young for a formal dance, but I like the idea of creative solutions.
Buy a flattering dress, work out a custom strap design or shoulder cover-up that works with the overall look, and the dress becomes completely unique. It’s a great way for a girl to put her own personality into a dress while still being in line with the code.
What Do You Think?
As before, I’m really interested in your thoughts. This is a multi-faceted topic with many points of discussion. These are your kids, future adults of the world.
What do you think about dress codes and parent opinion? How do you think the school and parents should resolve this?
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Last reviewed: 24 Apr 2013