Can we talk about high school sports uniforms for a second? Specifically the uniforms for teenage girls? A community in Florida is in a tizzy at the moment after the school banned cheerleaders from wearing their uniforms to class -- because they don't meet the dress code.
Turns out it's perfectly OK for the girls to shake their hind ends in the short skirts and sleeveless tops in front of fans at a Countryside High School football game, but the school has put the kibosh on actually letting them into class.
Are you thinking what I'm thinking?
If it ain't good enough for the classroom, why are you letting the kids wear it at a school function? More to the point, why is this the outfit you are providing?
For years I worked as a reporter on the sidelines of high school sporting events. The dichotomy between the uniforms for female athletes and male athletes was striking.
Girls' outfits were always form fitting, always revealing. Boys' outfits were sometimes form fitting (generally wrestling and cross country) but not always, and very rarely did they reveal much more than one would expect to see in a classroom.
Often as I set up my camera to take photos of teams, I would notice girls -- generally girls who weren't stick thin, although not necessarily obese by any means -- uncomfortably yanking down skimpy shorts to try to cover more thigh or trying to adjust impossibly short skirts.
It always bothered me, the photographer. Now it bothers me, the mom. My daughter is currently in youth soccer, where uniforms are unisex. Over-sized shorts and ballooning t-shirts are just the name of the game.
But my memory of my own awkwardness as a teenage girl, my discomfort with my body (and eventual plunge into the world of eating disorders), makes me fear the day she may decide to take on a high school sport and be forced to put her body on display because, well, she's a girl and that's how it works for female athletes in high school.
This is my own personal battle, I'll admit, but it dovetails with the case in Pinellas County, Florida quite well, doesn't it?
Here we have a school where the girls seem to be OK with their cheerleading uniforms, proud of them even. They want to wear them to class to show their school pride -- much as teen athletes do in many schools across the country. But the uniform isn't "appropriate," at least not according to this high school's dress code.
Parents are calling for the school to give these girls a break on the dress code, but the answer seems to be the very opposite.
It isn't the dress code that's the problem. It's the uniform.
Do we really need cheerleading uniforms that can't pass muster with a basic school dress code? Do we really need to put girls who are already dealing with the myriad issues of puberty in outfits like this?
I recognize that athletic uniforms can only be so loose -- for safety's sake -- but if a skirt is so short that it isn't allowed in the classroom, then it is probably a little too revealing. And if it's a little too revealing, why are you forcing girls to wear it? What message are you sending those girls? And what about the girls you're keeping out of sports -- girls who could probably use a safe and positive means of weight control like exercise -- because of uniforms that are made only for the stick thin?
What do you make of this situation? Should teenage girls be wearing athletic uniforms that don't meet the dress code? Would you let YOUR daughter wear a uniform that she couldn't wear to class?
Image via Dunlap23/Flickr