Dress codes: days of future past

When I was in high school — in the days when tablets were not computers but the stone on which the Ten Commandments were etched, and before the discovery of trans, either fat or gender — we had a dress code.

Boys were required to wear shirts buttoned to the collars, ties tied tight. No jeans, no facial hair.

Girls — before we called them women — had to wear skirts or dresses of a certain length, the certainty vigorously enforced by the female vice-principal police. Jeans were forbidden; shorts verboten. Girls’ only occasional dispensation on the warmest of sunny spring days — before climate change robbed us of spring too — were skorts, which looked as hideous as they sound, but had to pass vice-principal measurement muster too.

The year after I left high school — for reasons known only to those who had previously enforced it— my school dropped its dress code. They may simply have been overwhelmed by Beatle haircuts, drugs, let’s-spend-the-night-together, the sixties, Trudeaumania, reality…

I now date the beginning of the end of civilization to that day in September 1967 when teenagers could suddenly wear what they wanted, let their hair grow and beard sprout, dress in jeans, short skirts, shorts, whatever.

Which is why it was heartening to learn that someone somewhere — to wit, the vice principal of Truro Junior High School — is still prepared to stick her finger in the dyke (of the architectural persuasion) of inappropriateness, even as the Niagara Falls of Internet porn, underwear-less celebrities, 50-shades-of-gray-and-gay continue to wash over, under and around us.

One might wonder why anyone would choose to draw their sand line around a Grade 8 girl wearing modest — neither tight-tight nor short-short — jean shorts, last considered racy back in 1966.

One might wonder too at the school’s rationale: that males who (we are told in the same bated breath) have already seen everything there is to see and do on the Internet by the time they are 10, would be “distracted” by the sight of two discreetly bared legs…

No matter. Dress codes are not about what is actually appropriate. They are about rules and the need some people have for more of them. The future is the past. Say 1966…

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