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To what extent do dress codes in schools contribute to a better learning environment?

As a student, you probably have encountered dress codes in schools you've been through, from the banning of crop tops and tight shorts, to restricting hair sizes, colors, piercings, etc. Despite these expectations being more than common, certain prohibitions may support outdated mindsets and imply sexist stereotypes, preventing students from expressing their identities or even feeling comfortable with themselves in an educational setting. Also, without much notice, these harsh policies might impede many of us from learning our spot in society and limit our self-expression.

Dress codes, which are supposedly reinforced in order to propose a safer learning environment, may sometimes disturb students’ education when serving detentions, suspensions, if codes are infringed, making them miss out from important content for dressing ‘incorrectly’. In addition, they are mostly sexist, and view girls’ bodies as a distraction for boys, for being inappropriate and vulgar. These rules are mostly implied in order to avoid any type of concern, rather than teaching and encouraging them to smartly make proper decisions. Condemning the root of this issue will never stop it from happening. Other than that, students should be able to freely express their individuality in schools, as it is an environment where we are all engaged learners. The way we dress shows much more than just our taste in clothes; they manifest our preferences, convey our culture or religion, reveal our personality, beliefs, etc. More than communicating our identity, being able to show our originality in school is also a form of education. Along with making a creative environment, by absorbing other's differences, we are able to better understand the world around us, together with understanding ourselves as well. Adolescence are years when we are getting to know what lives inside us, getting to know our essence, and part of this discovery we exhibit through what we chose to wear.

Once we leave school, we burst into the ‘real world’, being exposed to people of all types, from diverse backgrounds. Being ready to deal with this cultural shock would be much smoother if dressing rules in schools weren't so strict. Protocols are said to prevent us from risks, when we are actually missing out from a big lesson. Schools shouldn't try to create a parallel reality where everyone dresses the same, and behaves the same way, because when confronting societies’ reality, it is far from being this methodological.

It is understandable to our school to seek our safety, as the responsibility falls onto them if anything occurs. However, dress codes should be more flexible to modern society, and adopt contemporary visions in order to allow students to appreciate their identity. It is important to be conscious of social contrasts, and ensure regulations are inclusive for all, especially regarding current social frames. Allowing all to wear clothing reflective of their identities is fundamental for a healthy and inclusive learning conditions, where everyone is able to feel accepted. Dress codes might be imposed to equalize all, yet they might subject people to feel they “don't fit into the box”, and imprison thought of expression. Moreover, although they suggest improving academic achievements, research shows that both factors have no correlation, and reinforcing esthetical rules does not lead students to perform better or worse academically.

Taking everything into account, the limitations imposed by dress codes in schools might not necessarily be effective as a whole, apart from arising ethical and social issues due to their guidelines. Another part of learning is about maturing and understanding how to deal with distractions in all environments, not only in school. Once schools generate a distant reality where everyone dresses the same, teenagers might be even more distracted when it comes to dealing with external scenarios. As part of contributing to our future as citizens, we should all essentially comprehend this disparity since young. Dress codes clearly suit their purpose and are definitely reasonable, however schools should look after what they restrict among students, and consider the benefit of empowering them to express their identities in an educational environment.

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