Dress Code and Body Image

By Leonela Serrano

At HB, we are privileged to have a relatively lax dress code. We can wear what we want (for the most part). We don’t have the same worries as some girls at co-ed public schools. We’ve all read one of the infinite number of stories of a girl being told to cover up even more because of her being a “distraction” to boys. Yet, as a school, our dress code brings up body image issues.

We have the fingertip length rule. Some girls can wear basically booty shorts because of how short their arms are and others, with exceptionally long arms, cannot find anything in dress code. As it is, we are asked to find shorts and skirts in dress code and whenever I walk into a Target or American Eagle or Zara I can find nothing that is long enough to fit the standard for school. It takes time to find shorts and skirts that match the dress code and make my body look good. Some shorts are long enough but don’t look good on me. Why I would spend money on buying clothes that I don’t feel confident in? How can I feel confident in my body when I sometimes have to pull on clothes that I don’t feel flatter me in the way that I want to present my body?

Our subjective dress code only highlights body issues. A pair of shorts that I find that are in dress-code become booty shorts on a girl only three inches taller than me. Our bodies are as unique as we are humans. They can come in infinite combinations and are not all proportional. Stores don’t sell good looking clothes for all bodies. Clothes are expensive, and the more restrictions put on them makes it hard for a young girl to truly become comfortable and try a variety of clothes, in order to figure out what they like. I understand the need to present ourselves well and we can, with ease. We just have to figure out a way to make a dress code that takes into consideration how impossible it can sometimes be for girls who aren’t 5’4” and perfectly shaped to find clothes that both flatter them, make them feel comfortable all the time, and are in dress code.