Off the Hill | University of Colorado | College dress code does not warrant judgment
Published: Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, September 11, 2013 08:09
Exploring life outside the dress code norms with your dignity intact can be a cocktail of double standards, but CU’s general lack of regulations on clothing doesn’t give anyone the right to judge based on appearances.
Picture this: a shy and sheltered girl is looking for Hellems amidst a sea of sweaty young bodies. She is witness to several bandeaus, a few see-through dresses and at least a dozen gratuitous booty shorts. Unsure of how to deal with the scenery, she stares at her campus map in the hope that it will lead her away from this village of sin (or at least to her next class).
That’s me, circa my first week of college.
The transition from high school to college is jarring — both intellectually and socially — but a changing element that ought to receive more attention is the Magical Disappearing Dress Code.
Whether you went to public or private school, in Colorado or far away from it, you were probably oppressed by a list of rules determining how you could dress. If you’re a guy, the dress code was relatively short and might have kept you from wearing your favorite Bob Marley shirt. If you’re a girl, however, that list was longer than any skirt you’d be able to walk in: straps must be this width, shorts must be this length, navels are a no-no, shoulders are shrouded, etc. If you identify outside the gender binary, high school was probably not your jam in the first place. Welcome to college: it gets better.
More so than to stave promiscuity, dress codes are borne of the age-old tradition of vilifying and suppressing female sexuality. Many codes perpetuate the mentality that racer-back tops are the cause of impure thoughts.
Institutionalized, sexist policies are on their way to becoming ubiquitous. If you went to a public school, the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics says there is a 57 percent chance you’ve been subject to dress code regulations — and that number has increased 10 percent in the last 10 years.
Fortunately, you’re now a student on a campus so populous that it can seem like an entire city. No one gets to tell you what to wear on Boulder’s freethinking campus.
Academic institutions have never been brought down by skimpy clothing. When have we seen a dramatic increase in male test performance as soon as sweater weather came around?
Spring finals and the return of the sundress don’t usually cancel each other out in a paradoxical explosion.
That being said, it’s also true that people, women included, get dressed based on what fulfills them, not on what appeals to others’ sexual appetites.
We shouldn’t assume that the girl whose bum is peeking out of her skirt is a floozy. She probably just really likes that skirt, or maybe it’s just hot as hell outside. (Friendly reminder: temperatures in Boulder are expected to reach up to 90 degrees Fahrenheit through the end of the week.)
If we’re judgmental of our fellow students and their garments, we’re only giving new life to archaic concepts of propriety.
So, fellow Buffs, take these last days of summer to evaluate your ideals, discard your prejudices and maybe even expand your minds. I’ve heard that sometimes happens in college.