The Subtle Art of Not Showing Your Shoulders

The Subtle Art of Not Showing Your Shoulders

Cover up. Put something over that. You’re being distracting. Go home. Want to avoid the comments, being dress coded? Want to keep someone else’s eyes on your eyes? Want to avoid the whistles, the claps and the catcalls? I will now share with you the subtle art of not showing your shoulders. 

Number one, no tank tops. You don’t want to be distracting. Number two, nothing too low cut. Too much showing. Number three, absolutely do NOT show your bra strap. You don’t want anyone to get ideas. Number four, always carry a sweatshirt. Just in case. Number five, dress for success. You can’t possibly learn if you’re wearing a crop top and short shorts. Number six, remember, it’s not actually what is revealing, but how it looks on your body specifically. 

To the girls with their shoulders showing, to the girls, with their bellies out, to the girls, who have been dress coded. This one’s for you. 

While I understand that there are things that are appropriate and not appropriate to wear to school, there has to be a hard line drawn. Students wearing crop tops or having shoulders showing succumb to punishment not befitting of the crime, oftentimes being removed from classrooms. In Georgia, an eighth grader was dress coded for a rip in her jeans higher than her finger tips. She had to miss her first period. In Nevada, a sixteen year old was escorted out of the classroom by police officers to the office for an in-school suspension because she was showing her shoulders. Another instance of a missed class. But what exactly is the crime? 

It is rare to hear a case when a boy is dress-coded for skin showing.  What’s even more infuriating is that reasons cited for dress codes being enforced are oftentimes because something is deemed distracting, to a certain audience. This results in class time being taken away from young girls, so that they can change into more “appropriate” clothing. What message does this send to young girls? That what they wear is more important than their education? Because that’s what it feels like when you are sent out of a class to change; That it’s your fault that you are sexualized.Thats what it feels like when you are penalized for a little bit of cleavage. 

Some argue that dress codes are meant to protect young girls.That they should dress modestly to not “invite sexual harrassment.” But again, what does this teach young girls? That it’s their fault they were the recipient of unwanted attention? That they were asking for it? 

As the recipient of catcalls, honks and whistles. As the recipient of being dress coded, I can assure you my shoulders are not the problem. 

So, let’s change the narrative. Number one, why am I responsible when someone else gets distracted. Number two, why am I penalized for a natural part of my body? Number three, keep your eyes to yourself. Number four, it’s hot. I don’t want to wear a sweatshirt. Number five, I am successful, even in my crop top. Number six, two friends were wearing the same exact outfit. One got dress coded and one didn’t. It just so happens that their body types differ. Coincidence? 

Number seven, number eight, number nine, all the way to infinity. Stop sexualizing us. Stop targeting us. Stop devaluing our education based on what we’re wearing.