Don't Tell My Teen How Short Her Skirt Can Be

cheerleadersHere's the thing: I have to admit that, occasionally, I see a teenage girl with a skirt so short or pants so tight or a top so low-cut that I cringe. (Particularly, in all honesty, if said piece of clothing is unflattering.) As my daughter enters tween-dom, I'm increasingly conscious of the fact that, simply put, I don't ever want her to dress like a $5 hooker (or worse, somebody on Jersey Shore).

But do I want my daughter's school going after her for the length of her skirt? No. For one very simple reason. Which I will get to in a minute.

But first ...

Earlier this week there was a big to-do about how a high school in San Jose included the cheerleaders' uniforms in a new ban on short skirts.

Did I mention the uniforms were brand-new and cost $300? No wonder the cheerleading squad was upset (I bet their parents were, too!).


The girls could still wear their uniforms at games, the principal said, but during classes, they'd have to wear sweatpants over the uniforms. Naturally the girls were NOT cool with that idea (what a slimming look, sweatpants over a skirt!). The squad members reportedly felt "like outcasts."

Like outcasts, eh? Interesting! File that bit of info away for later.

Not until the cheerleading skirt ban hit the news did the principal and the squad actually sit down together to discuss the issue. But when they did, the conversation took an unexpected turn. Apparently once the principal explained to the cheerleaders that she was just trying to be fair to other students who'd been targeted during recent "dress code sweeps" (when students wearing inappropriate clothing were being pulled out of class until their parents could bring something else for them to wear), the squad understood. The principal wasn't trying to make them feel like outcasts, she was trying to keep everybody else from feeling like outcasts.

So it's all good now and the girls are going to wear their cheerleading tops with jeans during classes.

Well, I'm glad that story has a happy ending, I guess, but I still think schools need to stop picking on girls for what they're wearing. This is my reason: Because rules about hem length, etc. are almost never consistently enforced. Which is why somebody always ends up feeling like an outcast. Even in schools where kids wear uniforms this happens. Some British schools with uniform policies are trying to switch girls from skirts to pants. Girls roll up their skirts at the waist to make them shorter, of course ... but some get reprimanded and others don't. That's how it was at my Catholic high school, too (way back before iPods were invented). What's the deal? Really?

Does the consequence for wearing a short skirt depend on how sexy a student looks? (As in, the sexier you are, the more trouble you're in, because secretly our society still regards the female form as an "occasion to sin"?) Does it depend on whether or not you get good grades, or if your parents paid for the new auditorium, or if a teacher thinks you have an "attitude"?

Here's the long and short of it (ha!): Until you can prove that your standards for "appropriate" dress are absolutely fair, don't make my kid feel like an outcast because of the length of her skirt.

Do you think dress codes are enforced fairly and consistently?


Image via Ed Uthman/Flickr

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