I’m a Dad, and I Don’t Want Schools Policing My Daughter’s Clothing

If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably noticed this disturbing trend. Every few weeks, I notice an article in my feed, and it always seems to follow the same general theme.

“School sends a girl home from school for an inappropriate outfit,” or “Teenage girl denied entry to prom due to inappropriate dress.”

The details vary, but the basic message stays the same.

We have three daughters, and I’ve made it a point to not use the word “modest” with them when referring to the way they dress. This may seem odd. Why wouldn’t I want my daughters to dress modestly? The reason is actually very simple.

In 2019, I believe that the notion of “modesty” is further sexualizing our children, in a world that is already hypersexualized.

Let me explain.

Most of these cases of girls being sent home from school, or denied entry to prom, have one thing in common. The reason they’re given is that what they’re wearing is “making it hard for the boys to concentrate” or it’s “a distraction for the boys in the class.”

I’m not okay with this.

What we’re saying, in essence, is that your son’s hormones and lack of self-control are more important and more valid than my daughter’s ability to dress in a way that is comfortable. If it’s 95 degrees outside, my kids will wear tank tops and shorts. If it’s 20 degrees, they’ll likely be covered head to toe. They dress appropriately for the weather and the social situation they’re in, but I’m not overly concerned about how my daughter’s shoulders are affecting little Johnny.

We are doing our daughters a terrible disservice in the way we deal with their bodies in public settings. By asserting this kind of control over our daughters, we are sending them the message that their bodies are things to be covered up, kept secret, and be ashamed of. I think most women would agree with me that our girls have enough problems these days with body image, they don’t need to have their wardrobes policed too.

And it’s not just the girls that get the short end of the stick in these scenarios. What are we teaching our sons? Are we teaching them that girls are to be respected, treated as valuable equals and that decency and chivalry are good and noble virtues?

Or are we instead teaching them that the purpose of a girl’s body is to arouse them and that girls at their school exist for them to look at and admire and we should make the girls cover up, because Lord forbid our sons have to deal with their own impulses and feelings in an appropriate way?

Look, I’m not saying that all our daughters should put on Daisy Dukes and tube tops tomorrow and head to school just to stick it to the boys. But I don’t buy the argument that we need to make our girls cover themselves up so that we don’t make it any harder for the boys.

What if we did away with the “boys will be boys” mentality? What if instead, we taught our sons that boys will be kind and compassionate and respectful and accountable for their actions? What if we taught our girls that their bodies don’t exist for the pleasure and approval of the opposite sex, or the magazine covers, or the commercials?

So no, I’m not concerned about teaching my daughters to be “modest.” I’d rather teach them to be comfortable and confident in who they are, and I’d encourage parents of boys to teach their sons to be respectful. If we all do that, hopefully, we can put this whole issue to rest once and for all.