I actually have my current job to thank for giving me the idea to write this. If you don't know, I am currently a long term substitute teacher so it's safe to say that I have formed a good report with some of the students. I'm probably the only teacher that is as close in age to them as I am, so they feel comfortable venting and telling me things (sometimes too much).
One particular day, a student who happens to be a black girl, asked to go get a snack from the vending machine and I let her go. When she came back, she seemed a little irritated. I didn't want to intrude so I didn't ask but eventually, I got the information.
Apparently, when she was at the vending machine, one of the school administrators pulled her to the side, looked her up and down, and told her that her dress was too short. Now, I am not about to sit here and describe this teenage girl's body because that's way more than inappropriate but I will simply say, the dress was not too short.
My point in telling this story is because even at 15 years old, she was able to articulate how uncomfortable and wrong this situation was. It wasn't until I was in college that I recognized how deep rooted this was.
She explained to me that girls who are shaped differently don't get "dress coded" nearly as much as she does. They get away with holes in their jeans and short skirts daily. It honestly took me back to when I was in high school. Although I had black administrators, they let the white girls get away with it all. They wore shorts, leggings, holes in their jeans, tank tops, and everything else. These are all things against the dress code. But don't let a black girl pull up to school like that... it's ISS (In-School Suspension) before the day even started.
There are educators who claim it's because black girls are just built differently. They are more likely to have hips, big booties, big breasts, and a host of other things. Which could very well be true... but why would a grown man (or woman) care about something like that? In order to ignore the fact that white girls are breaking dress code, this means you have examined the black girls body. It's degrading. It's embarrassing. It makes us feel ashamed of what we are born with.
I can only imagine how my student felt to have a grown man look her up and down the way he did. The whole idea of a dress code is built around the fact that men cannot control themselves so they know that boys can't. Let me put it like this, the administrator only spoke to her about it because it made him uncomfortable. Most likely because he wanted to be attracted to her. If you ask me, it's an awful cycle. Grown men teach young boys that girls should be the ones to restrain themselves so that men/boys won't be "distracted" while it should be men/boys restraining themselves. Women/girls are just human beings, not sexual playgrounds. It's as simple as self-control.
Not only is the dress code bias against women, it is bias against black women. It is my personal opinion that society, as a whole, makes it hard for black girls to just be girls. Little white girls are allowed to play in their hair, in makeup, in clothes, and whatever else and no one bats an eye. Black girls do the same thing and we're being "fast" or told to put some clothes on. What does that teach a black girl about herself? And to be frank, this is all because we're sexualized before we can even understand it all.
I know some people think it's to protect us, but everyone has gone about it in the wrong way. Protect us by teaching our male counterparts to do better. Instead of lecturing black girls about what to wear, how to act, and how to be... talk to these boys about being and doing better. Respecting women because it's the right thing to do and not because they'll be rewarded for it later.