Women around the world have constantly dealt with the sexist values that are perpetuated by dress codes. In 2017, people should properly understand that many female dress codes come with sexist undertones.
Today, women are more empowered and ready to advocate for their rights than ever before, especially since the 2016 election in which 38 women of color were voted into Congress despite Hillary Clinton losing the presidential race.
However, even as women make great political strides, sexism continues to run deep within society. Fixing it starts with recognizing the everyday struggles that women of all ages face in the form of dress codes.
Last Sunday, United Airlines refused to board an employee’s two teenage, female family members for wearing leggings on one of their flights, according to the New York Times.
The airline defended their actions, saying that “The passengers this morning were United pass riders who were not in compliance with our dress code policy for company benefit travel,” according to The New York Times.
United officials reportedly responded that while passengers are welcome to wear what they like on flights, employees and their families are subject to more restrictions since they are representing the airline.
But the representation isn’t the issue here. It’s that society condones enforcing dress codes for girls. The “formality” that United wants to bring onto those representing them is, to a degree, subjective. Also, nobody wants to sit on a plane for hours on end in dress pants or denim.
Yet even when women dress modestly, they are subjected to some form of discrimination in the workplace.
The European Court of Justice ruled that employers banning any religious symbol is not considered discriminatory if the rule applies to all religious symbols. This ruling upholds dress codes that ban Muslim women from wearing hijabs in the workplace.
These laws directly discriminate against Muslim women because they infringe on a woman’s right to choose how they express themselves.
Dress codes, whether in the workplace or schools, are meant to remove distractions and ensure that everyone can get things done. However, dress codes also contribute to rigid gender stereotypes and the hypersexualization of young girls.
While it is legal for schools to create and implement a dress code, schools cannot use their dress codes to single out students in a specific group, according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
It is important to ensure that dress codes are updated to reflect current style choices and break gender stereotypes to be inclusive for everyone.
This type of discrimination can be found at school dances, where schools have reportedly turned female students away because they chose to wear a tux over a dress.
In late March, students of Stanton College Prep (SCP) in Jacksonville, Fla. protested dress code posters that depicted those who complied with the code were “good girls,” according to CNN. Students used the hashtag #spcgoodgirl and wore purple and white to school in protest to the posters, leading to the school apologizing and removing the posters.
Immediate outrage spread not only because of the last-minute dress code implementation, but for the sexist implications.
From a young age, girls are taught they are responsible for a boy’s actions. This mindset has justified the enforcement of women’s modesty, and the “slut-shaming” of those who don’t conform to these standards.
In May 2015, 27-year-old British woman Nicola Thorp was sent home without pay by her employers for refusing to wear heels in her workplace, according to the BBC. Thorp started a petition to ensure British law could not allow employers to force women to wear heels at work, which led to committees concluding that the company had broken the law.
Now, members of the British Parliament are calling on the government to create regulations that will not allow employers to force women to wear heels in the workplace.
America needs to follow the open-eyed bureaucracy of Britain and not push away the glaringly sexist implications that dress codes bring.
In order to strive for gender equality in the workplace and society, it is imperative to address the sexist undertones that exist in different aspects of various cultures and lifestyles, such as the dress codes we follow.