Wednesday, October 29, 2008

(un)Dressing for Hallowe'en

There is some controversy regarding the costumes available in stores. Unfortunately, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Young people need guidance regarding their clothing. Parents and educators need to be vigilant. Degrading costumes give messages you do not want your child sending. Unfortunately, parents are not always able to say "NO". Outfits on the rack might be suitable for a 20-something attending a private party, and a parent must be able to discern the difference. That said, a 20-something may be giving the wrong message to her friends.

Many, many schools are responsible for developing, creating and maintaining a dress code for young people unable to make decisions about what to wear! This is approprate. Many school councils help establish a dress code. Lakehead District, TorontoDSB, PDF files: OCDSB, Simcoe Catholic schools

In some cases, parents leave the house before their children, in others the children undress, or peel off layers to reveal unseen fashion statements.

In my teaching career I have taken seriously our code of dress. As pop stars began to wear midriff-baring tops, and low cut pants, it revealed a whole new look with the young people.
There are several issues that concern me:
Do you want your child's male teacher ogling her as she languorously stretches, in the full knowledge of what she is doing?
Do you want your sons watching the same move?
Does your child understand that the way s/he presents his/herself in public tells a lot about them.

I worry about the dance schools who imitate much older women, and the clothing styles of dance videos. What is their purpose? The dance moves, intended to be suggestive, are further degrading as they invite ogling and imitate the sexual act. Some said, "Dancing: a vertical endeavour of a horizontal pursuit." In school talent contests, teachers must be vigilant in maintaining the dress code at that time, as well. Just because it is acceptable in a dance competition it does not mean that a bikini-like costume, and apparently acceptable undulating hips, can be worn on a school stage.

Dress codes are not limited to students. You cannot enter a place of work, attend a business or casual function without being aware that there are (or should be) dress codes. The sleazy, flesh-revealing, haute couture styles seen on anorexic models simply do not work for the majority of women in the majority of public places. Age-appropriate dress codes apply, as well. With body piercings, that truly gross me out when faced with this in servers or wait staff, I think we must reflect. I have found that staff members with body piercings influence the students to try this out for themselves, too!

Out of respect, staff members need some internal monitoring system. In the new casual dress policies of the workplace, young educators need some guidance. I often ask students if they want me coming to school inappropriately dressed? How gross would that be? To be in school, as in the workplace, there is a purpose that is hijacked if one is busy working on a persona, not on who they really are. We had punks in middle school who insisted on wearing their gang colours, and that issue had to be dealt with. Some young men like to wear outfits with slang, inappropriate language, and off-colour jokes. The young people are told to turn their t-shirts insdie out, or they are sent home.

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