||Main >> News Listing >> June 2004 >> Article ID 5251
| School fashion reveals more about kids than ever before||Type: Internet Article|
|School fashion reveals more about kids than ever before||Jun 22, 2004|
|by Maia Davis|
It begins at the mall. Or earlier, in racy Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera videos that give girls ideas of what to buy at the mall...
|It begins at the mall. Or earlier, in racy Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera videos that give girls ideas of what to buy at the mall.|
Skirts so short they barely touch the thighs. Pants so low on the hips they hardly reach the bikini line. And skin-tight shirts so small they leave inches of belly bare.
The trend toward showing the maximum amount of skin has led many middle and high schools to enforce old dress codes or to rewrite rules to address the current trend of micro-miniskirts, thong underwear showing above the top of low-riding pants, and provocatively torn shirts and jeans.
"Attire with holes in inappropriate locations are not permitted," reads the new districtwide dress policy in Fair Lawn, N.J.
The main difference between girls' fashions now and in the past could be a matter of degree, as Joseph LoCascio, high school principal in Wanaque, N.J., said. "Just less clothes."
Many New Jersey school officials note another change: As the clothes become skimpier, ever-younger girls are wearing them.
Constance Hill, a middle school guidance counselor in New Jersey, said she had seen a few girls coming to school in skimpy shorts and tank tops. "But now it's more," Hill said. "I'd say maybe a third of the girls at least."
The problem of girls coming to school dressed like Britney has a comic side. Principals stride through hallways and see them hurriedly tugging shirt bottoms down and pants waists up.
At some schools, students caught flouting dress codes must submit to the ultimate punishment: wearing a baggy school-owned sweatshirt the rest of the day. And girls admit that short-short skirts present a practical difficulty - when they bend over.
'Bombarded by images'
But many school officials and parents say there's a troubling side to this fashion trend: Girls are becoming sex objects at increasingly younger ages.
A toxic mixture of media and marketing is the cause, parents and school officials say. Media images of scantily clad music idols merge with the marketing of copycat clothing.
Christina Aguilera's official Web site has a link to a site for the clothing line Xposed. One item for sale: a pair of tiny, pink, hip-hugging shorts with "Stripped" - the title of a recent Aguilera album - emblazoned across the behind.
James Marcella, middle school principal in Fair Lawn, N.J., said the 11- to 14-year-old girls at his school are "bombarded by all these images that are way too mature. That's what they're selling kids, and that's what the kids are buying."
Marcella tries to use the topic of dress to teach about character. "I tell kids all the time it's about how they present themselves," he said.
But the pressure to follow fashion is intense, said Hill. She recalls how one girl was taunted in gym class recently at the middle school for pulling her athletic pants above her waist.
"She was made fun of for not letting her pants hang down so her belly button showed," she said. "It shows the pressure they're under to dress revealingly and to put that over comfort. It wasn't always cool to show your belly button."
Judging the by the looks ...
Many schools set measurable standards, such as requiring that skirts and shorts be at least as long as where a student's longest finger meets the thigh, or that shoulder straps be a certain number of inches across. But some principals say it's unrealistic to expect them to measure clothing.
"I'm not going to have people running around with tape measures," LoCascio said.
One school instead has a blanket rule against miniskirts, gym shorts, and any tops "that expose cleavage or bare midriff."
LoCascio said the purpose is to discourage flagrantly inappropriate dress. "It's a matter of dealing with extremes," he says.
Other New Jersey school officials agree that there's a necessary element of subjectivity in determining when a girl's outfit is too risque.
"It's like the Supreme Court said about pornography," one administrator said. " 'You know it when you see it.' "
If teachers and administrators rely too much on personal judgment, however, they risk making biased decisions.
Hill, said that last year a teacher, who has since left the school, sent a black student to Hill's office for dressing inappropriately. The girl asserted that her tank top and shorts met the school's code, which requires that shirt shoulders be at least 2 inches wide.
Suzanne Gumley's daughter, Melissa, a freshman, often wears midriff tops under sweatshirts at school. But she takes the sweatshirts off as soon as she leaves, her mother said.
Gumley said it's hard these days to find teenage girl's clothes that aren't revealing.
"There's very few shirts that even have a sleeve on them," she said. "Everything is a camisole. In my day, you'd never let a bra strap show. It just wouldn't happen."
Source: Lansing State Journal
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