By Jennah M.
Recently, Westmount launched a new dress code for the students. While teachers may believe that this dress code is reasonable and necessary, many students beg to differ. The conditions of the dress code are as follows:
- Clothing should not expose any undergarments/underwear.
- Shorts/Skirts/Dresses can be no shorter than mid-thigh or are at a ‘fingertip’ length (the hem of the short/skirt/dress touches the fingertips when arms are held straight down at the side of the body).
- Tops are at a length that meets the waist of the shorts/skirts/pants (no exposed navels).
- No low-cut fronts of tops of low-cut underarm openings.
- Shirts/Tops/Dresses must have shoulder straps.
- Busts/Bellies/Bottoms should not be exposed.
- Clothing that is revealing is inappropriate.
- Messages on clothing that display or promote the following are unacceptable:
- Discrimination, hatred, violence
- Profanity or obscene gestures
- The use of alcohol or drugs
Furthermore, this dress code states, “a student who comes to school inappropriately attired, will be asked to cover up with a gym shirt or will be sent home.”
While some conditions in this dress code are reasonable, there are several that have students confused and angry. “People shouldn’t be shamed for what they’re wearing. I just want to be able to express myself,” says Victoria L. “I feel like girls should be treated as more than a distraction and be proud of who they are and kind of express that through their clothing.”
The dress code includes the following argument as to why this dress code is necessary: “It is important students are dressed in a manner that is appropriate for a school setting, recognizing at this campus we have children from age 10 and up. While we encourage individuality and appreciate the creativity expressed in the way our Westmount students dress, we would like to ensure they are aware of the impact their choices may have on their teachers and fellow students. Good taste and judgment should be exercised in the selection of clothing worn to school by students who should come to school appropriately dressed to promote a positive and safe environment that is conductive to learning.”
This statement has students questioning their freedom of expression. “I feel as though people should be able to express themselves through what they’re wearing, and if they feel comfortable they should be able to wear what they want. If people find it distracting, that’s their problem. They need to fix their ideology,” said grade nine student Bridget W. Bridget also feels that there is a degree of sexism in this dress code. “I think that the new dress code is directed mainly at girls and I think to make it equal it needs to be directed at both boys and girls,” she explains. This dress code does not claim to be gender specific, however, it can be assumed that it targets the female population, as it is very unusual to see guys walking around with shorts that only cover the upper thigh, and shirts that show off the chest area.
Teachers have a very different stance when it comes to this new dress code, explaining that at our school, we try and maintain a very respectful reputation. This respect includes the way our students present themselves. They also say that they are attempting to prepare the students to be adults, and therefore the students must dress like adults. Students agree with this to a certain degree, however they feel as though they should dress how teenagers typically do for the summer months while it is still appropriate, and the dress code doesn’t permit that. Robyn E. understands this, and says “I think that its accurate because its supposed to be a professional environment because its school, but I think that they’re teaching the girls that the way that they’re dressing is what’s wrong instead of actually teaching the boys anything. They’re just focusing on the girls and saying their bodies should be shamed for show anyone it. They’re not doing anything wrong. It’s just clothing. They’re just dressing for the weather.
The male population of the school shares similar views to the girls previously mentioned. “I think that it’s super unfair that they’re treating girls like this because the girls should be free to wear whatever they want,” says Jackson G. Hansi V. agrees. “I think that it’s pretty stupid. (The girls should have the) freedom to wear whatever they want, but I can see where they’re coming from.” Damon O. seems to take a more indecisive stance. “I think it’s somewhat reasonable because I’ve seen some of the things that girls are wearing. I can see why they could be putting up the dress code, but they should be able to wear what they’re comfortable in.”
It seems as though the new dress code is very controversial, and the Westmount community does not have a clear opinion on this dress code. Although students, the females in particular, don’t seem too happy about it, dress codes are put in place to create a respectable environment. Luckily, summer vacation is not too far away, and soon you will be free to wear whatever you want.