Today we got a letter detailing the new dress code for my kids’ school next year. I love my kids’ school for a million reasons and am the first to champion it if you ask. But what started out as a minor irritation with the letter has ballooned as the day has gone on and I just can’t get my frustration out of my head.
First of all, let me just praise the language of our dress code for being gender neutral. The rules don’t specify that they are for girls which I appreciate on some level. But on another level it frustrates me because 80% of what is in it clearly applies only to girls. I would love to see a boy get sent to the office to change for “tight fitting clothing that draws attention to their body”.
And herein lies my issue.
I am raising two beautiful girls in a world with impossible beauty standards. Everywhere they turn they are seeing girls showing off every possible part of themselves in an attempt to sell magazines, increase ratings or #breaktheinternet. Clothing stores are filled with clothes that turn girls into miniature strippers and don’t even get me started on Halloween costumes. Combating this culture is so important, especially for followers of Christ.
But I also know full well how weird body transitions are and how difficult it is to feel comfortable in your own skin when you are a teen and tween. It sucks when we do find clothes that make them feel good and confident but are deemed inappropriate because of random standards. And when those standards are cloaked in terminology like “God honoring” when the Bible says simply we should be modest with no definition of what that is (except to not wear braids or gold jewelry which I have yet to see covered in a dress code).
To be clear, I TOTALLY get the need for standards within reason. I think dress codes definitely have a place. But taken too far, then the message is one of shaming. And we all know exactly why girls are repeatedly told this in Christian circles. It is because our bodies could be tempting to men.
What I wish we all understood is that reducing girls’ bodies to be just a thing that tempts the boys around them does the exact same thing that all the skanky magazine covers does. Girls bodies are simply objects. Either objects to be used to get men’s attention or objects to be covered up so that we can avoid being a temptation. All we become is sexual beings. Not glorious bodies strong and fit and created by God to be exactly what they are with beautiful souls underneath.
When I was in school the style was baggy clothes and we wore like 10 layers at once. Even our socks had 3 layers. Either I went to a school where teen boys were extra horny or CLOTHES WEREN’T THE ISSUE. They still snapped our bras, made lewd comments and chased us around the playground. Because it isn’t the clothes. It is the heart. And it is high time our men started taking responsibility for their own hearts.
It is a slippery slope from telling a girl her shoulders must be covered to asking a girl what she was wearing when she was raped to telling a woman whose husband was unfaithful that perhaps she shouldn’t have let herself go. All things I have heard thrown about in Christian circles.
Let’s be clear, a boy getting “distracted” by a girl in a tank top is no less of a problem than a girl being called out of class and shamed by being asked to change. This year my middle school daughter was forced to wear her coat all day because she had on a shirt without sleeves (which wasn’t even part of the current dress code). She was humiliated and kept asking me what she did wrong. I had no answer. Because the truth of the matter is, SHE DID NOTHING WRONG.
I would love to see as much time and focus spent on teaching young boys how to treat and respect young girls as there is spent teaching girls that they must cover up so as not to tempt them. We simply MUST stop placing sole responsibility on girls for how men behave. Let’s have a little bit more faith in boys to control themselves and a little more faith in our young Christian women that they aren’t all mini seductresses in training trying to lead men astray. I would love to have far more time praising girls for the way they were formed and teaching them that they should dress in a way that honors God because they are valuable, precious daughters of the King.
And let’s just switch to uniforms so this mama doesn’t have to take up sewing in order to meet dress code in the summer.
I would love to know your thoughts. How do you teach your girls about modesty?
This article originally appeared at JustJilly.com.