Looking back on my tween and teen years, one of the most infuriating parts was having school dress codes. Because as if going through major body changes isn’t uncomfortable enough, let’s add rules and regulations to clothes too. I still vividly remember the day in middle school when I was sent to the principal’s office because of my top. I was wearing a “tank top” with ruffled cap sleeves (similar to this one at Target). Apparently it was a violation of two dress code rules. The first seems to be a pretty universal one for girls: No shoulder-showing. Because heaven forbid the boys “can’t concentrate!” And so it becomes the girl’s job to cover up rather than the boy’s job to keep their eyes on the board. Number two: Tank top straps must be at least as wide as three fingers.
The top violated neither, but apparently my principal was on a power trip that day. I remember the terror when I was told to go to his office with no explanation, the anger when he told me why I was there, and then the utter humiliation when I was given one of the school’s shirts to put over my own and then told to do the dress code walk of shame back to my classroom.
I then remember my mom furiously calling the school because how dare they shame me like that. Knowing that humiliation and seeing how my mom reacted, I was instantly defensive when I saw one mom on Reddit post in the “Am I The A—hole” subreddit and ask if she was an AH for not standing up for her daughter when she got “dress coded” at camp. But Reddit and I both ended up on her side.
Summer Camp Attire
The original poster (OP) explained in her post that her kids are away at an outdoor summer camp. It’s been great for everyone, including her daughter Rebecca. The 15-year-old is “pretty rebellious with clothes,” OP said. “She hears a rule and will go out of her way to break it or try to get around it. It has caused so many problems before.”
Over the summer, campers do a lot of outdoorsy activities (surprise, surprise) like rock climbing or canoeing. As you can imagine, there’s a pretty strict dress code.
What To Wear
When rock climbing, canoeing, and the likes, the camp requires everyone to basically wear workout clothes. Appropriate footwear and undergarments and, as OP said, nothing with strings or loose fabric that can get caught. “My daughter was wearing leggings and a runner’s shirt before I dropped her off,” OP said. Sounds like everything is off to a great start!
What Not To Wear
Spoke too soon! Rebecca snuck a dress into her suitcase and changed into it.
“Well, that was a no-go and they made her change back to her workout clothes or she couldn’t do the activities,” this mom wrote. “They also sent me a note saying we have other things to do and if it happens again she will be asked not to return.”
OP said she “100% agreed” with the camp. Rebecca, of course, did not. “She has been going on about how they can’t police her clothes and my husband and daughter think I am a jerk for not fighting the camp on the dress code.”
By The Way
After seeing comments like, “Are you sure your daughter likes the camp? It’s possible she was intentionally dressing in a way that wouldn’t let her do the activity,” OP edited her post to say Rebecca was the one to pick this camp.
“I get a catalog about the summer camps and the kids pick what they want to do.” So it’s not like she wanted to go to an artsy camp and instead ended up in an athletic environment. She knew what she was getting into and even asked for it.
So Who’s Right?
Reddit said the answer is pretty obvious: The camp staff and mom for being on their side.
“‘They can’t police her clothes?’ Actually, they can and they have to. If she gets hurts because she’s dressed inappropriately for an activity, it’s their a** getting sued for allowing her to participate while dressed in a way that increases her risk of injury,” the top comment with 3 thousand upvotes said. “She’s 15. She’s old enough to understand that there’s a time & place to be as cute as possible, and it isn’t at an athletic day camp.”
“She can follow the rules that apply to everyone or suffer the consequences,” another person said. “This isn’t a body shaming or freedom of speech issue. It’s a safety issue. Rock climbing in a dress would be ridiculously unsafe and just obviously impractical. They have a camp full of other campers to watch and adding this distraction is entitled behavior. A dress is also not appropriate for horseback riding, flip flops are not appropriate for track and field, and a bathing suit isn’t appropriate to wear to play ice hockey.”
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