This post was originally published in December 2011 (wow!) on Vie de Cirque
I wanted to add a few thoughts — such as my sleep-deprived brain can conceive — on the yoga pants. My last post was about dropping the parenting ball more than yoga pants. But what do I think about clothing bans?
First, let’s clarify a few things. The ban on yoga pants is not across the board. You may want to read this piece from Kelly Egan in the Ottawa Citizen. He writes:
According to the board’s website, every school is required to have a dress code, which may involve uniforms. It is to be consistent with the teachings of the Catholic church and is accordance with parental views. The code does not appear to contain the word “yoga.”
The policy does state: “This (code) may be as general as addressing the wearing of ball caps and the length of skirts and shorts.” There is no Lulu sub-clause, or any hint about dealing with a student wearing yoga pants, a ball cap and a short skirt.
One school in Barrhaven reportedly banned yoga pants as part of their dress code. The problem with banning a piece of clothing is that it doesn’t prevent inappropriate dress more than banning a breed of dog prevents dog bites. Ban yoga pants and the girls will wear skinny jeans. The problem with modesty and the quest for attention through revealing clothing runs much deeper than the particular make and model of the pants. Children learn trough example and repetition. It is somewhat naive to think that you can ram some modesty in a teenage girl who dresses for attention just by banning a piece of clothing. Pants are pants. The problem is how you wear them.
My oldest daughter wears yoga pants and skinny jeans at school. Yet, you would never see her as dressing inappropriately. She is naturally modest. My two middle daughters are competitive gymnasts and spend a fair amount of time training in what amounts to a bathing suit. They need more formation on modesty than their older sister. Banning yoga pants for girls such as my oldest daughter serves no purpose other than send parents scrambling to the nearest Old Navy. As for the other girls, just type “girls in school uniform” in the google search box… wait… uh, don’t…
Am I saying that I oppose clothing bans? Well, yes and no. Teenagers need to learn that there is such a thing as inappropriate attire. The school can and should determine what is appropriate dress for a learning environment. We’ll let the bar scene determine the appropriate attire for picking-up a one-night-stand. And the world-wide-web for getting the attention of pedophiles and other deviants. But schools can’t hide from the subjective nature of sending a kid home to change behind the curtain of banning a piece of clothing and calling it a day. Yes, good taste is in the eye of the beholder. However, the beholders who are sending your children home to change — because you wouldn’t or couldn’t or just didn’t notice — are the same beholders of the jobs your children will be refused, the raises your children will be denied and the opportunities your children will seek out. Some lessons are better learned before you have a family to support, I’m just saying.
Another problem with clothing bans is that they tend, by nature, to overwhelmingly target girls. Yes, there is the odd ban of graphic tees and bottom-grazing jeans that apply to boys. But short-length provisions, belly-shirts bans and yoga pants clauses apply to girls… Ok, they won’t spell it out, boys are also prohibited from wearing yoga pants. But believe me, if a boy shows-up in high school wearing a tight-fitting belly shirt (and it’s not Halloween or cross-dressing fundraiser day), he will be sent home by his peers faster than the Principal can grab his parents’ phone number. Clothing bans that target female attire reinforce the message that girls are responsible for boys’ sinful impulses and must be reigned-in. Same idea as the burka, just different degrees. Bras are more distracting to boys than they are to girls, that’s how they are wired (the boys, not the bras). But boys have to learn to live with distractions of a sexual nature without acting on their impulses. That’s also a lesson better learned sooner than later.
One of my children took issue with my previous post on raising teenagers (it may have been one of my teenagers…) and told me with a surprising (to me) mix of scorn and sarcasm (paraphrasing): “You write that you are raising adults, not teenagers. That’s so ridiculous. You’re treating us like children!” Now I feel like I should specify, in case this was not clear to other readers, that by “raising adults” I didn’t mean treating teens like adults. I meant raising your children with a vision of the adults you want them to become. Clear?