Ruth Spivak: Kiducation


Is Controlling What Your Kids Wear To School a Faux Pas?

My little rant. Sorry.

Here's the news story that instigated my little rant. Sorry.

In June 2012, nearly 100 students from New York's top public high school took part in a so-called "Slutty Wednesday" protest. Dressed in body-baring outfits, boys and girls denounced their school's "conservative" dress-code.  Guidelines of this controversial dress-code include:

Shoulders, undergarments, midriffs and lower backs should not be exposed.

The length of shorts, dresses and skirts should extend below the fingertips with the arms straight at your side.

Clothing with images or words deemed inappropriate is prohibited.


I get the protesters: No teenager ever wants to be told what to wear.  (Maybe the "below-the-fingertips" rule is a little too strict?) I get the administration: It's hard to establish a sense of decorum when students come to school with their undergarments showing.  

What I DON'T get is why some parents are fine with their kids going to go to school dressed like they're going to a bar. Let me qualify that: Thongs and boxers in full view, skin-tight mini skirts, midriffs exposed. Since it's no longer a given that kids shouldn't go to school dressed this way, teachers have to waste time enforcing dress codes. This annoys me.  

It used to be that transmitting society's unwritten rules about "what not to wear" was the domain of parents. Rules were common sense like, "What's appropriate wear for lounging around the house is not appropriate wear for dinner at a nice restaurant. "I'm pretty sure my Mom wouldn't have let me go to school wearing a T-shirt that says, "Future Trophy Wife."

What kids put on in the morning should not be a "school problem." This is not about whether clothing affects learning. This is about what to wear, what not to wear, and when to wear what! 

This is not about parents taking the fun out of fashion, or inhibiting self-expression. (Go crazy with colours, patterns, and textures!) It's about parents teaching kids the lines between personal style, trends, and appropriate wear.

Most adults inherently understand that undergarments peeking out in the workplace is a faux-pas. Why, then, should this be acceptable wear for school? Unless some parents think that school doesn't deserve the same respect as the workplace. And THAT'S a problem.

What do you think? Is trying to control what your kids wear to school even worth the parent-kid battle? Does it even matter any more?