Trend to Watch: Hemlines in the Headlines

October 3, 2018
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Trend To Watch:

Hemlines In The Headlines

Dress codes become MORE lenient at school (& at work) in the name of “gender equality.”

Helpful or hurtful?

Dressed To Suppress?

  • In the last 20 years public schoolsA requiring uniforms jumped from 12% to 21%;A about half of publicA schools enforce a strict dress code.
  • More recently, schools in CA, OR, and ILA adopted more “femaleA friendly” dress codes, inspired by theA National Organization for Women (NOW).


  • School districts following NOW’s guidance say they want to avoid inequitable & unnecessary disciplinary measures affecting girls disproportionately; more girls got in trouble than boys.
  • CA’s Alameda school district is the latest to adopt a dress code that allows items once deemed “too distracting” (ex: short shorts, & midriffs).
“because more of the policy was focused on girls’ clothing than boys, girls were being sent out of the classroom for infractions more often than boys, which meant they were losing more class time than their male peers.”

Alameda, California Unified School District on why it changed its dress code policy. Some argued the policy was too vague and enforced differently depending on a student's particular body type (body shaming).
“It’s good not to punish girls for being distractions. I fully, fully get that. …. But I think it’s extraordinarily misled.”

Marie Hsu, Alameda, CA math teacher and mother of two young children. She expressed concern about not enforcing a stricter dress code and whether or not that sends the signal to girls that it's okay to "sex it up" or dress inappropriately with no accountability.

Businesses nationwide are also revamping their dress codes to embrace a more "gender neutral" approach to avoid gender-based dress codes, especially in the wake of the #MeToo movement. Is this a step forward or back?

Co-authored by Jean-Marie R. Bralley, a freelance writer based in Charlottesville, VA.A

by Jenna Lee,