I Can’t Read It All

As I started researching my topic more, I have realized that it is more of a popular culture issue than a well-researched, academic issue.  My revisited original sources are news articles or personal opinion blogs. While they quote credible, notable people and the stories are undoubtedly true, there are not a lot of researched, proven studies on the effects of dress codes. I can see correlations, as many of the articles I found also have, but nothing concrete. I was hoping that since my original paper, something like this had been published, but I haven’t been able to find it.

 

B5328693_origut because my new media and new audience allows for it, I began looking at google image results from searching “dress codes in schools.”  Diagrams and powerpoint screenshots came up and I have found the results very compelling. One of the most interesting things about this generic search is the subcategories that came up with the results. One of the two subcategories was “girls.” There was no “boys” category and female figures were used on the diagrams about 70% of the time. In both subcategories, but in the “girls” category especially, were the most shocking pictures that show the stigmas and effects of dress codes. This visual information alone makes me feel like I will be able to find new yet equally substantive sources as my original paper.

 

Most of the new sources I found are similar to my original sources, which makes me feel comfortable and familiar with the material. I was excited to find an article from The Guardian that was published September 7th of this year. And another source from only 5 days ago from The Today Show. They are going to be great sources for my project, but I can’t help but feel sad every time I find a new source to add to my list. The more I find on this topic means the more prevalent it is in this country. Although it would make my project harder, having less sources to choose from would make me feel better for the status of education for girls across the United States. It is also saddening that every source I find links to a dozen similar stories of the same misconduct in the name of dress codes.

 

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If anything, I am overwhelmed with sources and I am having trouble narrowing down which ones to use. I don’t have the time to read everything that I find. Maybe one of the reasons for this is because I also often get sucked in and caught up following infinite links to other articles. Multiple times, I have found myself forgetting about the articles in a research context and reading them out of personal interest. While this is an issue that is probably good for my project because I am genuinely interested in the topic, it has wasted a good amount of time so far. During this beginning stage, there are worse problems to have. For now, I’m okay with busying myself finding too many sources.

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.