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An oversized cotton jacket from my father, a long white T-shirt, leggings and three scarves. My sister blithely dressed herself in the aforementioned articles and left for school at 6:50 a.m. An hour later, my mother received a phone call stating that my sister had been removed from class, her outfit ostensibly distasteful deemed scuzzy and “distracting for other students in their learning environment.”

Aware of what my sister had worn that day, my mother incredulously questioned the administration as to what exactly about her “attire” had been deemed inappropriate. “Her jacket rests a morsel of an inch above her fingertips.” As punishment, my sister was forced to put on her gym uniform over her clothes, because it’s presumed that a gym uniform overlaying an outfit is less distracting and offensive than fingertips that don’t quite reach.

Not only did they interfere with 20 minutes of her school day, but they subjected her to unsubstantiated pretenses that women are nothing more than their exterior. They objectified her and deemed her a sex object because of what she was wearing. Never mind that her style of dress is merely a form of self-expression, the school tenaciously declared it “gratuitous,” going so far as to suggest that her outfit will get the “male students thinking.”

If she were looking to entice the male population at her high school, she almost certainly would have worn something other than a big, puffy jacket. That aside, my main concern is the message that dress codes like these are sending to young women everywhere.

Just this past week, The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show attracted more young female viewers than it has in previous years. It’s no secret that young women are conscious about the way they look, and for a school to define them by nothing more than that is egregious and concerning.

The attempts to enforce a dress code are pernicious and archaic. I’m not trying to contend with the enforcement, or even reality, of a dress code, but if the focus were more shifted toward empowering these young girls than objectifying them, there might be fewer detractors and more girls strutting dauntlessly through the hallways, proud of who they are, regardless of the way they look.

Chad Collins, La Plata