Dress Coded?

The most “distracting” thing about my outfit that day was the interruption to tell me my outfit was distracting.

Sophie Terian, Copy Editor

“Uh uh, no,” she said, finger pointed sharply.

I quickly glanced around the hall, crowded in typical lunchtime hustle, to see if she was uh-uhing me. It took about two seconds to realize the answer was yes.

A sickening feeling started in my stomach as she waved me over.

“Where’s your sweater? Not okay,”

I looked down at the shirt I was wearing, which I had bought earlier that week and felt pretty while wearing. It was tight-fitting and black, with a mid chest neckline and long sleeves. The problem was that it had cutouts on the shoulders, and the part of the shirt connecting front to back was a one centimeter wide strap.

When I put it on that morning I didn’t think it would be a problem. Our school has a policy regarding the straps of sleeveless shirts, but this clearly had sleeves.

Alas, the fact that I was being yelled at in the middle of the hallway in front of students who were beginning to turn and watch the scene proved that— apparently— it was indeed an issue to her.

“Not okay. This,” she pointed at the straps, “isn’t two fingers wide. Where’s your sweater?”

“It’s in my classroom,” I answered, in a voice too embarrassed to sound defiant but too unapologetic to sound ashamed.


I’ve thought this over— thought over whether or not to post a column about what happened. I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m still unapologetic, and here’s why.


The only logical justification I can think of that doesn’t have anything to do with physical appearance for the two finger wide strap mandate on shirts is that the rule is in place so the shirt cannot be easily tugged off the wearer’s body. This makes sense to me. Complying with that isn’t too upsetting, though I feel like the rule should instead be “don’t pull off people’s shirts.”

However, due to the sleeves on my shirt, the outfit could not have been easily tugged off.

I conclude my reprimanding was derived from a reason dealing with physical appearance. It was almost certainly based in a mindset that criminalizes the body— a mindset pervading and degrading our society.


What difference does a one centimeter width versus two finger width make in the ability of one of my classmates to “focus”?

If it does make a difference, how incredibly fickle is the focus of my peers?

Can we work on fixing that instead of my shirt?


The most “distracting” thing about my outfit that day was the interruption to tell me my outfit was distracting.


When she told me to put a jacket on, I did— somewhat irritated, but mostly just saddened.

A female teacher dress coding a girl on a shirt that has no proper justification for being dress coded is an unfortunate perpetuation of the oversexualization of her own body.