Annie Bruso, Staff Writer

Clothing shouldn’t have to defy dress codes for you to be confident and secure, people shouldn’t feel the need to wear what they see on magazine covers to feel comfortable with their bodies. Stacy London, professional stylist and host from TLC’s What Not To Wear, stated: “Your self-esteem won’t come from body parts. You need to step away from the mirror every once in awhile, and look for another reflection, like the one in the eyes of the people who love you and admire you.”

Dress affects one’s ideas about the self (attitudes, values, beliefs) as well as self-directed behaviors. For example, according to researchers Nancy Rudd and Sharron Lennon, believing that one’s body is in any way unacceptable to others can motivate individuals to engage in risky body modification behaviors in an attempt to achieve an acceptable body shape or size. This psychologically explained idea is especially prominent in women; so while some may wonder why women seem to have a more detailed dress code, they should also wonder why the woman is dressing the way she is. This isn’t to send all women under an umbrella, and this isn’t implying that all women who wear shorter skirts or lower tops are attempting to sway others’ feelings. According to Medical Daily in 2014, 54 percent of women ages 18-40 were unhappy with their bodies, which can lead us to believe that they may “engage in body modifications” which can include clothing that reveals more or gives the illusion that more is revealed.

A dress code for women is not to keep from “distracting men,” contrary to popular belief, but rather to encourage women to not feel the need to change their image, or show more skin, just to feel better about their bodies. Women should dress for their bodies and not for society. In my opinion, when women develop a style that is both fashionable, and most ideal for their unique body type, they feel more comfortable and confident in everyday life.

Concerning the idea that a dress code for women is solely to “protect” men, is preposterous. It’s just as distracting for any other woman. According to CBS News, in 2013 a study was conducted that found that “the women were just as guilty of the ‘objectifying gaze’ as their male peers.” Using eye-tracking technology, psychologists Sarah Gervais stated, “We do have a slightly different pattern for men than women, but when we looked at their overall dwell times-how long they focused on each body part-we find the exact same effects for both groups. Women, we think, do it often for social comparison purposes.”

A dress code is set into place for all people, and in the school environment, this is necessary. The purpose of school, whether you like it or not, is not to “express yourself” or even to find friends (while important and healthy, that’s not the reason why a student attends school). The end purpose of school is to learn and prepare for the future and/or college, and everything else is an added bonus. If someone’s dress is distracting anyone from their learning, then yes, that person’s dress should be addressed and dealt with appropriately.

Because one of high school’s main purposes is to prepare for both college and the workforce, a dress code is necessary. This simple psychology can be explained through a 1990 study, where researcher Mary Lynn Damhorst, conducted an analysis of 109 impression formation studies to determine the kind of information that was communicated by dress. She found that in the majority of the studies 81 percent of the content information communicated by dress was competence, power, or intelligence; and in nearly 67 percent, the messages were about character, sociability, and mood. Dress affects opinion, a fact that we’re never going to break away from. Even though people shouldn’t “judge a book by its cover,” doesn’t really change the fact that they do. School is attempting to train us for these facts in life, and teach us how to dress with confidence and style, while still being professional.

It can be argued that some high schools actually take dress code too far. In some public high schools across the United States, males are not allowed to have sideburns that come below their earlobes, facial hair of any kind, as well as hair past the base of their neck. In other instances, women had to wear long pants in 100 degree heat with no air conditioning. Even though a dress code is necessary and important, doesn’t mean it is never taken out of context, over exaggerated, or biased.