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The Sin of Skin

Emma Bennett, Broadcast Editor

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Senior Megan McLeod (12) sits in her first hour, conversing with her teacher over their summer adventures. It is the first day of school, and as a tutor in the writing center, she has nothing to do with a lack of students already in the grasps of writing troubles. Struggling with the new school wifi, she searches for someone to aide her in understanding, whether it be another friend or teacher with better insight.
She is not a hallway away from her classroom when she is pulled into the office after an administrator claims that her shirt is inappropriate for exposing a small stretch of her stomach. Her reward? A “free” t-shirt to fix the problem and a revisiting of the school’s dress code and merits.
“I felt my school life wasn’t important and that the most important thing at that time was that you could see an inch of my stomach,” McLeod said.
Unfortunately, similar episodes occured to many others during the first few days of school this year. In some instances, grade level offices provided ‘alternative clothing,’ in others, parents were notified and delivered jeans and more suitable tops personally.
So, when it comes to dress code, what guidelines and ideals are truly being enforced? The school handbook claims that students are not permitted to wear any clothing that shows their stomach, and tube tops are prohibited; shoulder straps should be at least one inch wide. There is also mention of necklines, and how students are not allowed to wear anything with “low necklines.” Shorts must cover the hips and upper thighs.
However, the presentation viewed at class meetings on eclipse day defines a set of rules not as clear; no mention is made of shorts; tube tops and hats are the only items of clothing referenced.
Upper and underclassmen alike have been confronted for anything from an exposed midriff, to shoulders, and even shorts that do not fall low enough. Even though students come to LHS each day for the education, it seems that the decision made about their appearance has garnered more attention and concern.
“Maybe we should be focusing on helping students with their education rather than making them feel less comfortable and objectified at school,” McLeod said.
What makes the mere sight of exposed bellies and legs distracting? Many believe that the plethora of visible epidermis is risky and inappropriate for school. I’m just not convinced that a person’s skin should not be seen sexually.
We all have skin. People wearing shoulder-revealing clothing or showing their stomachs are not to be shamed in public. Why should it be any different at school? It’s humiliating to be called out in front of your peers and forced to change.
The harmful stigmas against how young women dress already exist enough– girls and women alike are teased and ridiculed for dressing ‘provocatively’ every day– why do administrators continue to reinforce this outdated belief? Students understand that they shouldn’t come to school naked, and not many plan on showing up with only a bathing suit on. It makes no sense to make the reinforcment of old and already understood guidelines a start-of-year priority.
Not only does the dress code belittle and embarrass the growing young adults in this school, but it limits our self expression. While some may believe that school is solely a place for learning, it’s a little unfair to restrict us. LHS students, for the vast majority, are present and attentive seven hours every day.
This is high school. We’re not children anymore. By now we have spent the last 9-12 years of our lives learning how to act appropriately towards each other and treat each other with respect. The problem here is not our clothes and skin, it’s the people who take it upon themselves to make comments that make others feel looked down upon and demeaned.

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