Cover up or suck it up

Riley Carroll, Staff Writer

Trigger warning: Mention of sexual predators & sexual assault.

Cover your shoulders. Don’t show your chest. Leave something for the imagination. For as long as I can remember, there have been two choices: dress the way society deems appropriate or risk the unthinkable. The toxicity and fearfulness that restricts young children’s clothing choices reign supreme. Blame is placed on the youth for their outfit choices rather than on the disgusting individuals who instigate predatory acts. Why do education systems instill mandatory dress codes that refuse to normalize ordinary clothing?

No tank-tops. No midsection showing. Shorts must be longer than “fingertip length.” What makes these so sexual? They are nothing more than comfortable styles of clothing to wear on a scorching summer day. School dress codes that reflect ideals like these do not expose school children to what actual people dress like. Even then, modern fashion arguably is not fueled by sex appeal — it is the over-sexualization of outfits, especially those of young girls, that creates the problem. It is not the clothes that we wear, it is the harmful mindsets and over-sexualized perception of predators who blame their unforgivable wrongdoings on the garments. 

Exhibited in the “What Were You Wearing?” display, presented in the UTSA Student Union last week, were t-shirts, bathing suits, a child’s nightgown, an army uniform and every variety of clothing in between. The survivors who were brave enough to display the clothing they were assaulted in indicated that fabric does nothing to stop despicable people from committing disgraceful acts. 

With current restrictive dress codes, students are limited in practicing creativity and self-expression. There is little stylistic choice behind monotonous school uniforms or “school-appropriate” attire.

The liberation of sporting clothes that allow for self-expression is far more valuable than bounding dress options to prevent the crooked mentalities of sexual predators. We should not be restricting dress codes to cater to pedophiles — we should teach people to respect others regardless of what materials they choose to style themselves in. Revealing clothing is never an invitation for assault.