Continuing the Fight Against Dress Codes

I decided to repurpose a research paper that I wrote my freshman year. The prompt was pretty wide open and my peers and I were free to write about anything we cared about. At the same time as the assignment, I was following a story about a girl in Florida who was fighting her school administration for unfair dress code regulations. The issue of dress codes and its underlying messages always interested me because it was an issue at my own high school, too. So for my research paper, I wrote about Marion Mayer and her fight against everyday sexism and defended the position that the enforcement of dress codes are damaging to the education of girls and boys. I chose to write about this topic again because I still care strongly about the topic and think I could better express my argument with different media. I began to research some of my original sources to see if any follow-up articles had been written and looked for new forums for the discussion of this issue. I found some interesting sources that I will use when repurposing my argument into an article for The Atlantic.


The first source I found is an article from The Atlantic by Jessica Lahey that discusses the impacts of dress codes on young girls. This article models the type of argument I am making and it is what I will use as a base when formatting my repurposing project. As a middle school teacher, Lahey talks about her concerns for her female students and describes the extra care she takes in teaching them to respect their bodies. Also, as a former high school teacher, she expresses her shock that body image issues caused by dress codes begin at such a young age. In one of my favorite parts of this article, Lahey quotes on of my favorite books, Little Women. Marmee is talking with Meg when she says,

Susan-Sarandon-Little-Women1“I only care what you think of yourself. If you feel your value lies in being merely decorative, I fear that someday you might find yourself believing that’s all you really are. Time erodes all such beauty, but what it can not diminish is the wonderful workings of your mind. Your humor, your kindness, and your moral courage. These are the things I cherish so in you.”

Lahey’s article will support my argument because unlike students or parents who are affected by dress codes, Lahey offers a staff position. Rather than following the lead of other school administrations, she speaks out about an issue that affects her students. Her perspective is unique in this way, she does not have a sense of personal defense like students or their parents do. She simply sees what is happening to her students as a result of dress codes and warns other of the effects.


The second source I found is a Time article by Laura Bates, who co-founded The Everyday Sexism Project. The project documents gender inequality that people experience everyday. The posts on theScreen Shot 2015-09-28 at 11.19.00 AM project’s website, which I will also be using as a source for my project, sometimes seem unbelievable while others seem common because it has become so engrained in society. Many of the posts includes the unequal enforcement of dress codes on female students as everyday sexism. Lahey quotes various posts that describe run ins with dress codes. She also links a twitter account that also posts stories of everyday sexism that women experience. Both the website and twitter account show how common gender inequality is and how many women it affects. I plan on using all three of these sources in my repurposing project because they are an article written on the subject by a credible author and first hand accounts of something that I claim to be normalized in society. I can use some of the posted stories and the trends that I find to support my argument.


Shannon Vail

I am a senior Art History major who thoroughly enjoys cooking, traveling, beagles and Buffalo sports.

2 thoughts to “Continuing the Fight Against Dress Codes”

  1. I love your topic. It’s ridiculous that this double standard is still an issue. In my high school, I actually lost a lot of respect for the assistant principle when, while going over the dress code, explained how the restrictions on girls are in place because “it’s distracting”. Ugh. I’m looking forward to seeing where you take this.

  2. Hi Shannon! In class, we discussed all of the different ways you could go about completing this assignment. I think that it would be really interesting if you either created a story, or worked off of a real one to be published in The Atlantic or the opinion section of a major newspaper. Like Emily, I love your topic because it’s something that affected me growing up. It’s an important issue that I would like to learn more about.

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