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Is the dress code in school an outdated concept?

Social media controversy sparks strong questions and reactions

Is the dress code in school an outdated concept? Social media controversy sparks strong questions and reactions

At school, did you dress preppy and carefree like Britney Spears, or sporty and casual like off-duty models, riding the athleisure wave? Realistically, especially for commuters and sleepyheads, the only important thing was to arrive in class on time, without getting scolded by the teacher for being late and without having to go to the office for a pass. This is when worn-out t-shirts and oversized sweatshirts from older siblings made their appearance in everyday school attire, for maximum comfort.

What do you wear to school today?

Nowadays, things seem to have changed. An apparently innocent selfie taken in a high school restroom has sparked a real debate, with heated tones and nostalgic reminiscences of "in my days". But what's the problem? The girl we see in the mirror with her smartphone in front of her face is wearing a sleeveless top that exposes her midriff and a pair of very ripped jeans. Some users deemed it unacceptable, and the term dress code came up more than once.

@nssgclub Cosa indossano gli adolescenti milanesi i primi giorni di scuola? Siamo stati all’uscita dei licei per scoprirlo. #fashion #y2k #y2kaesthetic #nssgclub #backtoschool #milan #viral #viraltiktok #jorts #stansmith #vintage #mercato #secondhand #liceo #liceomanzoni #fashionphotography #streetstyle #teens suono originale - nssgclub

Yes or No to Dress Code at school?

The main factions are two: there are those who support the sanctity of the school and the school building, arguing that to receive an education, one must adhere to a formal dress code, much like when going to work in an office, hospital, or attending a ceremony in a church (or other religious buildings). Then, there are those who couldn't care less and argue that such impositions are restrictive and deny the freedom of expression of students, especially female students, in the name of a concept, that of decorum, which belongs to an old and outdated world. If wielded by the wrong people, it concerns not so much respect as the control of bodies and behaviors.

@iconicakes comment an outfit idea for tomorrow :) inspo: @nai #dresscode #school #outfit #makeup #friends original sound - sara & avni

The Debate Branches Out

In the middle, as always, there's a wide variety of positions. Some say that adults on social media should not at all concern themselves with youth issues, spreading with their responses and snarky comments what is ultimately a photo of an underage girl. Some completely ignore the issue of appearance and focus on long nails or vaping in the restrooms, which would be seen as signs of rudeness or obligatory rites of passage in youth. In short, this student has been scrutinized, used as a symbol of the supposed unpoliteness of Generation Z. And to think she just wanted to post a mirror selfie.

Examples in Pop Culture

Returning to the original point, it's not hard to understand where the young people’s belief (that they can and should express themselves even at school, without differentiating too much between the classroom, the bar, and the club) comes from. After all, in movies and TV series set in high schools, we see the protagonists in outfits that if worn by a regular student would require hours and hours of makeup, hairstyling, and choosing the shortest miniskirt and trendiest latex or lace top of the moment. This is the case with shows like Euphoria or Élite. In the latter, not even the private school uniform can stop the protagonists from shortening their skirts, tying their shirts, and wearing lace lingerie and fishnet stockings. 

Extreme Cases and Control

In the United States, some educational institutions impose very conservative dress codes, which primarily affect girls and are enforced to "not tempt teachers and classmates", in other words, to protect the boys. In these cases not only deep necklines but also vaguely fitting garments that emphasize the body's contours are considered problematic. This too is an unacceptable issue, one that has been discussed at length overseas without finding reconciliation, and one that hides behind the ideas of respect and decorum.

@theyouths3xpertprogram Replying to @ Ask us more Q’s! #feminism #feminist #dresscode #dresscoded #seggseducation original sound - The Youth Sexpert Program

A Nuanced Issue

In short, even though the debate has polarized into two extreme opinions, there are many nuances that should be considered. There must be a sensible and constructive interaction primarily between generations, who should meet and understand each other beyond social media, and also between the concepts of decorum and absolute freedom of expression. The final question, in reality, is: is there a way to control women's clothing without unconsciously being influenced by patriarchal and misogynistic ideals?