Dress code changed for better


     Students at North Harford High School, especially girls, have been frustrated by the dress code for years, but luckily a change has finally been made. For the first time ever, tank tops are acceptable for Hawks to wear.

      The dress code in the 2019-2020 school planner states “students are prohibited from wearing […] clothing that […] unduly expose or reveal skin such as tank tops, tube tops, halter tops, mesh tops, bare midriff tops, spaghetti straps” etc. However, this year the dress code in the planner states that “clothing must cover the chest, midriff, pelvic/groin area and buttocks” and “all tops must have shoulder straps.”

      The key difference between these sets of guidelines is that the new dress code doesn’t prohibit spaghetti straps, which opens up so many more fashion options for students. School shopping as a teenage girl can feel impossible because a large fraction of the clothing options in the stores break the school dress code, but by expanding what’s allowed to be worn, the school just made this much easier for students to navigate.

      The change also offers hope that North Harford administrators are willing to listen to the student body and progress when necessary. It’s no secret that the school has a reputation for being very conservative, but it’s comforting to know that change is possible and student voices can in fact be heard. Shoulders should not be considered distracting, and the new dress code reflects this.

      Though the updated dress code allowed many female students to sigh a sigh of relief, not everyone is completely satisfied yet. In the same way that the shoulders of minors should not be considered “distracting,” neither should midriffs or really any normal body parts. The fact that students will get dress-coded for wearing a crop top before they’ll get told to pull their masks up shows the school’s priorities.

      When it comes down to it, girls do not dress for guys–for the most part they dress for their own comfort. Which means if someone is wearing a crop top, there’s a good chance it’s because it’s hot outside or it makes them feel good about themselves. If a guy can’t focus on class because of what a female student is wearing, that says much more about the guy than the girl. Making female students miss instruction time to deal with a dress code situation, so there aren’t any “distractions,” makes a statement that the education of female students isn’t as valuable as the education of everyone else.

      Despite the fact that technically both female and male students can get dress-coded for the same things, many Hawks feel like girls are especially targeted for wearing things that guys would get away with. And the reasoning that they’re often told has to do with how their bodies are inappropriate or distracting.

      So yes, the new dress code change is a great first step that the school can be very proud of and makes many female students feel more comfortable, but the work is far from over. In many aspects, this school could still afford to be more progressive—from further dress code updates, to taking more steps to make LGBT+ students more comfortable, to coming down harder on racism, etc.—but for now, lessening the restrictions on what students can wear feels like a win.