Reader Writes

Hello, my name is Kayleigh Jennings. I am a senior at Oneonta High School. I have been attending OHS since kindergarten. There is a lot to like about my school and there is even more to hate. One thing, dress code.

For one, I personally believe the dress code stems from rape culture. And, for those who aren’t familiar with that term, it means that you blame women for what happens to them solely based on what they are wearing. I am actually sitting in ISS today because I got dress code violations. ISS is when you go into a room isolated from everyone with whoever happens to get ISS. There is a teacher in the room also. So essentially you just miss a day in the classroom because you sit in a room and stare at the wall.

My vice principal gave me ISS today because my shirt did not cover my butt in my leggings. I just simply don’t understand. Why is it that what I decide to wear makes the administrators upset? I am 17 years old and why do they feel like they have the right to tell me what I can and can’t wear?

When I got my first warning for the dress code my vice principal made me stand up to see if my shirt covered my butt. She said and I quote, “Ms. Jennings let me see those leggings.” I was in a pink Champion jacket, size large, and leggings. No one else seems to have a problem with it except the administration. I felt very embarrassed that she made me stand up in class for everyone to look at me.

She told me to call my mom so she can bring me more clothes that were “appropriate.” My mom is a nurse and they are very short staffed. She has been working 12- to 15-hour shifts at least twice a week and she still works every day and is a single mother. She did not have the time to go home to get me more “appropriate” attire. So instead, I went to a friend who was kind enough to lend me her jacket so I could tie it around my waist.

There were several other females who got dress coded and several who weren’t dress coded. Boys are never dress coded. They wear shorts that aren’t fingertip length and shirts that have the arms cut off and the sides completely open but no one says a word to them.

But today (2/3/21) I decided to wear maroon leggings, a size XL grey sweatshirt, and a black shirt over it with some sneakers. My vice principal got me out of my second period class in the middle of a lecture to bring me to ISS simply because my shirt didn’t cover my butt.

I just don’t understand why. If I am here to simply learn for seven hours a day, why does it matter what I decide to wear. They didn’t pay for what I decided to wear and I am not their child.

Dress code is a door open to sexualizing a teenage body. It objectifies women and makes us feel bad. I am 6 feet tall. It is VERY hard for me to find shirts that are fingertip length. I also can’t wear jeans with holes that are above fingertips and my tank top has to be at least three fingers wide. Dress code and SEVERAL other rules are absolutely ridiculous. It is 2021 and I should be allowed to wear leggings to school if I choose to. And my high school has more to worry about than a pair of leggings.

Thank you,
Kayleigh Jennings, Oneonta