SHARE Last week, two 5th-grade girls addressed the Atlanta school board , asking that the board change the dress code so that girls might be allowed to wear skintight leggings, which are currently prohibited unless girls are wearing a skirt or shorts over the leggings.
The board will announce its decision in January. I learned that the public schools in Evanston, Illinois have adopted a new dress code which allows students to wear almost anything they want, as long as the genitalia and the nipple of the breast are covered in opaque fabric. As a result, I was told, it is now common for girls to come to school wearing skintight leggings and a tight camisole that begins just above the breasts and ends above the belly button.
That confirms my observations at more than schools over the past 16 years. In , it would have been unusual for a teenage girl to come to school wearing a very short skirt and a sheer mesh top, with the bra visible beneath the mesh. Barbara Fredrickson and her colleagues at the University of Michigan conducted a study which bears on this question.
They randomly assigned college women and men to wear either a bulky sweater or a swimsuit. The men wore swim trunks, the women wore one-piece bathing suits. Each volunteer was seated in a small room: Each volunteer was then asked to take a math quiz. Fredrickson and her team then compared how women wearing swimsuits performed on the quiz compared with women who were wearing bulky sweaters, and likewise for the men.
The men who were wearing swim trunks did slightly better than the men who were wearing bulky sweaters. The women who were wearing swimsuits did much worse than the women who were wearing bulky sweaters: And remember, the women in this study were in a closed room with no windows and no observers. Subsequent research has replicated and extended this finding. We actually have quite a bit of research now on what happens when a girl or woman wears skintight leggings or a swimsuit.
And the more public the setting, the more likely self-objectification is to occur. Girls who self-objectify are also more likely to become depressed.
They are less likely to be satisfied with their body. They are more likely to engage in self-harm. My evil parents made me do it!
They feel that the prohibitions on wearing leggings, hot pants, brassiere tops etc. I share the relevant research with those girls. The most important issue here is not whether girls who wear leggings and brassiere tops are distracting the boys. And the evidence suggests that they may be.