Dress Code Code

No, that’s not a double-word mistake. I’m referring to the code that’s behind the dress code – at least for girls and probably minorities, too.

slut2This spring, administrators of a local middle school in Woodstock, Vermont – the kind of picture-perfect New England town featured on postcards – called a girls-only assembly to deliver a lecture about the importance of dressing appropriately so as, you guessed it, not to distract the boys. You can read about the assembly and the community outcry here.

If I’d been a mother of one of those girls, I would have thrown a holy fit. Maybe if I’d been the mother of one of the apparently so weak-and-vulnerable-they-cannot-help-themselves sons, I’d have been pissed, too. This is straight out of the 1950s and I thought we were past this silliness.

Oddly enough, I DO believe in dress codes. In fact, as far as school goes, I would love it if public schools took a cue from their private and religious counterparts and mandated uniforms. Puts everyone on an equal playing field, no CathUniformone would have to know whose uniform was purchased through a principal’s fund, and we could all concentrate on getting an education. But considering that public schools around here are having a hard enough time funding #2 pencils, I’m not holding my breath.

Adults would do well toadopt a uniform, too. As a newspaper reporter covering courts, it never ceased to amaze me how someone facing a pretty serious charge of sex assault or burglary would make his or her first appearance in … pajamas.

Ditto for someone coming in for a marriage license.  As a Town Clerk, I’ve become fairly expert at reading what marriage has a chance by the way brides and grooms act when they’re getting a license. The woman who came in PJwearing fleece PJs left her husband after 6 months. The guy who looked hungover in a stained shirt and could only talk about where to get fresh corn on the cob took off after a year. The couple who made an effort to look at least slightly put together, they’re doing okay.

You don’t have to be wealthy to dress nice. Sometimes a clean white T-shirt and pair of jeans (especially on a guy with fabulous pecs) is pretty darn appealing. But I wouldn’t get distracted to the point where I couldn’t do my work.

Which brings me back to the original point of the Woodstock story. Aren’t we past the days when bad boy behavior is blamed on bare shoulders and a flash of thighs? Bring out the burkha already.  This kind of story makes me wonder if we as a society make any progress, ever.

Maybe that’s why Bubbles is such a fun character to write. She can’t help it that she loves red-sequined mini dresses – as work attire. And so what that she is inclined toward tight-fitting Spandex? Can she help it that she’s allergic to cotton/wool and all other natural fibers? Don’t judge. Deep down, she’s smarter than your average bear, provided that your average bear knows how to work the standard transmission of a 1985 Camaro.


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