By Natascha Jones, Guest BloggerJuly 3, 2015
I just read an article about a 17-year-old Southern California girl who used her senior yearbook quote to express the frustrations of her high school’s dress code policies.
It made me think about getting dressed as a female and what that really means to me. When I attended high school, the only restrictions I can recall were that we were not allowed to wear shirts with curse words on them. This was in the 90's, before Chloe Cross (the yearbook quoter) was even born. No one had cell phones, the internet was brand new, Google didn’t even exist, No facebook, no Instagram; not a lot of platform for a teenager.
Looking back, that innocence is so beautiful and so oppressive at the same time.
It seemed like a time when we talked to each other with our mouths and we looked at each other’s faces in person. The only fashion advice I took was when the new “Delia’s” catalog came in the mail- and what my friends liked. I mean…Clueless came out when I was 15!
But even with those over-the-knee socks and crop tops, we had parameters. Maybe it's because I grew up in a rural town, but we didn’t know what “sexy” was like the teenagers do now. There was no Kendal Jenner to provide us with an indication of how pretty we could be if only we were millionaires. If we wore short shorts or short shirts it wasn’t to be provocative, it was simply because that was the style we liked. I couldn’t imagine being in high school today with all the pressure of social media, appearances, and shaming.
Now let me play the devil’s advocate here. I run outdoors in Venice Beach, CA, and I often do so in a sports bra and leggings. Sure, I’m covered in all the appropriate places, but there’s still a lot of skin. This is just the most comfortable way for me to run. Period. But the amount of unwanted attention I get from this is ridiculous. I don’t deserve it, and just because I don’t have a shirt on while exercising, does not give someone free reign to stop their car and talk to me, yell at me, or simply stare at me. I deserve to be treated like a human, just like Cross. So while one side of me says “dress your age,” the other side says, “I get you, you want to wear what feels good to you, without worrying about someone else’s opinion.”
I’m torn; while I love that teenagers in 2015 are so much more strong, independent, and self-esteemed than we were 20 years ago, I feel like that also comes at the price of losing your childhood.
When I was in high school, we had pool parties and water-balloon fights. We ran through fields and stole the farm truck. I wish we could have both.
When Cross’s teachers and administrators penalized her for what she was wearing, they allegedly did it because her outfit was “distracting” to other students. But I wish they had done it for her, not against her. I wish their message was “stay young, enjoy your youth, there is time to grow up and look like an adult for the rest of your life.” Be young and awkward and frizzy and brace-faced and knock-kneed. You have the rest of your life to be an adult and make a statement, but just for a little while be a kid.
How do you feel about dress codes? Do you think, to some extent, that they are necessary? How have dress codes and styles evolved?
While she would have to inform you that her “day” job is in esthetics and makeup artistry, Natascha truly spends her days in sunny Venice Beach laughing with her friends, riding her bike, and telling grandiose stories encouraging others to laugh, cry or think. She is passionate about her efforts to live life fully and push her comfort zone, which is why she spills her guts to you and she hopes you’ll still love her.
Every girl is a work in progress. If you need more help, click here.