Elizabeth BerryThe end of the school year is fast approaching, and with it the weather is steadily getting warmer. We have gone from 45 degrees and rainy to sunshine and blue skies. With the increase in temperature comes a decrease in clothing. No one wants to wear jeans and a sweater when the sun is beating down but along with the short shorts and T-shirts there comes the dreaded dress code.

I am sure it is a problem at every school, a battle between students and teachers trying to decide what is acceptable and what isn’t.

Recently, my school had a meeting about the dress code with students and teachers. We talked about in our advisories, not just what it should be but also about why it is in place. Some of my fellow students had some very interesting ideas. I heard people talking about how clothing is not just functional but a vehicle for self-expression. Girls wear the short shorts and belly bearing shirts as a way to show who they are and their sense of style. The purpose is not to be a distraction. Unfortunately, teachers do see those items of clothing as distracting. That is where the issue falls. There is a fine line between wearing clothing in order to express who you are as a person, and wearing appropriate clothing for school.

I’ve also found that there is a lack of cohesiveness in the dress code policy at my school. Some teachers will dress code and others won’t. Girls who wear shorter athletic shorts won’t be dress coded but girls with short jean shorts will. No one is really sure what the rules exactly are.

Our student handbook says, “Students will dress in a manner that does not distract from the learning environment,” which isn’t very specific. It goes on to list several body parts that are not to be shown, but even that is not very specific.

I think the issue in clothing has to do with the short skirts, dresses and shorts but there is no rule for what is too short. I have been told skirts have to be at least down to where your fingertips can touch but that isn’t really fair. Some girls have longer arms than others and girls with different leg lengths can get away with different lengths of clothing. The whole dress code system itself is extremely confusing.

Personally, I am all for everyone having to wear uniforms just because it would give me an extra half hour of sleeping time but I know for a lot of students the freedom of dressing is an important one.

Clothing is the way a lot of people identify themselves and who they are and I do think that is an important right; however I do think there is appropriate and inappropriate clothing for school.

I think this is a debate that can’t be solved immediately and it will be changing constantly just like the fashion industry. What I found interesting and I think to be a good rule of thumb is what one of my teachers said in response to the dress code.

She told our class that we should judge what we wear to school based on if we would feel comfortable seeing our teachers wearing the same outfit. So if you would like to see your teachers wearing crop tops and booty shorts then by all means go for it but I think I’ll stick with jeans and a T-shirt just to be on the safe side.

Elizabeth Berry is a junior at Riverdale High School and a guest columnist for the Review. She can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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