strapless dressA New Jersey middle school made the news recently for banning strapless dresses at its upcoming 8th grade dance, which apparently put some parents into an uproar. I agree that it might be hard to find dresses these days that aren't strapless, but too bad! I had to sew straps on to my own 8th grade dance dress (and walk uphill while doing it!); so can today's girls.

I do, however, take real issue with the outright dangerous explanation of the ban:

A parent says when she complained, the Readington school principal told her strapless dresses are "too distracting" to the boys. Um, what?!

The dress code is completely reasonable. Girls of 12 and 13 don't need to be wearing strapless dresses; that style is too grown-up, and there's plenty of time for that. You might disagree with me, but dress codes have to draw their lines somewhere, and it's up to parents to support those lines. But the reasoning behind ANY dress code should be ONLY about be just that -- what is and isn't age-appropriate for a school setting. Strapless dresses aren't appropriate for young girls, just like wearing a bathing suit to school is inappropriate for boy and girls alike, and it's not appropriate for a boy to show up to a school dance in shorts and a muscle shirt.

It's NOT, however, OK to say girls can't wear strapless dresses because that style is "too distracting" to the boys. There is a direct line from that kind of idiotic thinking to people blaming a rape victim for dressing provocatively. Boys are perfectly capable of controlling themselves when they see a -- gasp! -- bare shoulder. Give them some credit! Banning strapless dresses so boys don't get too sex-crazed is insulting -- and damaging -- to both the girls AND the boys. The emphasis of lessons on social interactions (which after all is what a dance is all about, really) needs to be on the importance of controlling your OWN behavior and having respect for each other, no matter what someone might be wearing.

Do you agree with the school on this one?


Image via dno1967b/Flickr