I like to show my shoulders
Weird enough, it’s true
And once or twice a week
It’s something many girls will do

Sometimes I show a slit of stomach
Or most of my thighs
I rarely see a need to hide
My skin from prying eyes

You’ll sometimes see my cellulite
Or a bit of fat
Although I know people can be quite
Judgemental of that

When I’m told to cover my body,
When my clothes are picked apart
It’s never for my sake,
But for my boy counterparts

When a girl is wearing shorts too short
A teacher will not hesitate
To dress code her – boys will be boys
And girls will accommodate

My body is not something
Taboo I need to hide
I don’t take care of and love my person
Just to be objectified

Is it really that hard
For teachers to say
To boys:
‘Don’t look at girls that way”?

Is it really up to teenage girls
To stick out their necks
To ask that teachers teach their students
That girls deserve respect?

We’re taught self defense
We’re taught modesty
We’re taught to check our cups
For drugs we can’t taste or see

We’re taught to cross our legs
And pray to the sky
That we don’t catch the attention
Of the wrong guy

Girls are taught how to not get raped
I learned all the tricks myself,
But all we learn is how to make sure
He rapes someone else


Edit I am so amazed by how many comments I have recieved on this post! So many people are supportive of this cause, and it gives me hope that some day soon we will see schools around the country taking steps to a better dress code. I am doing my best to reply to all comments. Thank you so much!!!!
-Celia

Disclaimer: I know that rape can happen to anyone, regardless of gender or age. This poem is meant to address the hypersexualization of young girls, and how it can lead to rape as well as other unsafe environments. I wrote about a small part of a big problem, because I could never hope to write a poem that debunks all of rape culture. I personally wanted to focus on the problems in middle and high schools. Here are some articles for you to check out if you’d like to learn more:

Dress Codes
http://www.cosmopolitan.com/lifestyle/news/a63695/sexist-dress-codes/
http://www.teenvogue.com/story/sexist-dress-codes-hurt-all-genders
http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2015/10/school-dress-codes-are-problematic/410962/

Rape

25 Everyday Examples of Rape Culture


http://www.wavaw.ca/what-is-rape-culture/
https://www.thenation.com/article/ten-things-end-rape-culture/

Thank you for reading

-Celia

CC BY-SA 4.0 There’s a Problem With Dress Codes – Poem by Celia is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

30 Comments
  1. Profile photo of Brianna
    Brianna 3 months ago

    Dear Celia,

    I really love the poem you have written, you backed it up well with your evidence and I also agree with you on this cause of dress code. It sucks that girls are being discriminated by the way they dress, I feel like girls should be able to wear what they want and not be sent to the principals house for showing her body shape or some skin. There is also a problem where girls who have a nice figure who cannot wear certain things to school because of their nice figure and it will cause a distraction. I feel like this is wrong because you can’t stop guys from looking at a girls body no matter where you go, guys will look. Girls should be able to wear what they want and feel comfortable in their own skin, if you have a nice body, you have a nice body and there is nothing you can do to stop that. As long as you are not being touched in an inappropriate way then there should not be a problem. Hopefully one day there will be a change.

  2. Profile photo of Carmen
    Carmen 8 months ago

    Cecilia,
    I love this poem so much. Dress codes are something that really bother me because I often see stories of girls being dress coded even when they were fully covered. It’s so annoying that young girls are told to cover every part of themselves instead of boys being told to not sexual young girls. I like how you tied this problem to rape because while they are not the same I think that they are closely related. If we constantly teach women to be ashamed and teach boys that girl’s and their bodies are the problem we are adding to a society that blames girls for sexual assault. Your poem in very powerful and good job!

  3. Profile photo of Savannah
    Savannah 8 months ago

    Celia,
    I was blown away by how you wrote this. It’s so powerful. I agree with how you showed that girls are taught to not tempt a boy instead of boys being taught to simply respect a girl. This is such a huge issue in our world today and not enough people stand up for it to make a real difference. It’s important to face the harsh realities of society so that we can make a change and not have to teach the generations to come what we have wrongfully been taught.

    • Profile photo of Celia Author
      Celia 8 months ago

      Savannah,
      Thank you so much! I agree that this issue is underrepresented, and I hope to see more people in the future take a stand.
      Thank you for commenting!
      Celia

  4. Profile photo of Danielle
    Danielle 8 months ago

    Dear Celia,
    This poem is one of the most powerful things I have ever read. I think everything you talk about is so true ams often times girls are limited by fear of rape ams sexual assault. I think you addressed this in a sensitive ams powerful way. I hope to hear more from you. You are a very talented writer.

    • Profile photo of Celia Author
      Celia 8 months ago

      Danielle,
      Thank you! I plan on continuing posting, and I also hope to see more people talking about this issue.
      Thank you for your comment!
      Celia

  5. Profile photo of Erin
    Erin 8 months ago

    This is an amazing and relevant poem in our society today. I go to a high school where we wear uniforms, so that, in theory, takes away girls ability to wear “revealing” clothing. We all have to wear shorts, and the girls must be to the knee. It is a common occurrence that girls are sent home for their shorts being too short, while there are boys next to us with shorter shorts than us. It is a very prevalent issue that needs to be addressed.

    • Profile photo of Celia Author
      Celia 8 months ago

      Erin,
      Something that my friends and I have talked about is how hard it is to find girls’ shorts that are knee length. In gym class in middle school, many of the girls had to buy boys’ basketball shorts because we simply couldn’t find shorts long enough in the girls’ section. In middle school (as my high school has a more lenient dress code) I wore skirts just about every day of the spring, because I didn’t feel confident and pretty in any dress code appropriate shorts. “Short-shorts” are just an article of clothing, and schools shouldn’t ban them.
      Thanks for commenting!
      Celia

  6. Profile photo of Elliot
    Elliot 8 months ago

    Even though I am a male your message hit very close to come. Many of my close friends struggle with these issues on a daily basis. One line that really spoke to me was when you said “We’re taught to check our cups
    For drugs we can’t taste or see”. This line spoke to me because one of my dear friends was date raped. This poem raises awareness and truly shows the hardships women face on a daily basis.

    • Profile photo of Celia Author
      Celia 8 months ago

      Elliot,
      I’m really glad that guys are seeing my post and agreeing. It is important for people to understand that this is not an issue of girls vs. boys. This is an issue that impacts all genders. I’m really sorry about your friend. Rape is such a terrible, unforgivable thing and I hope the problem has been addressed by the time I’m old enough to have children.

  7. Profile photo of Bella
    Bella 8 months ago

    Celia,
    I think that this poem is very good, addressing rape culture and dress code/sexism is very important for our society, and something that needs to be talked about more often. Using this topic and turning it into a poem, helps convey mood and why there is something wrong with rape culture. I have experienced this a lot in the past, and still do almost daily.

    • Profile photo of Celia Author
      Celia 8 months ago

      Bella,
      Every day women of all ages and backgrounds feel unsafe. I know that, the older I get, the more I will be surrounded by people who will sexualize me for merely existing. I hope that someday you will be able to exist without feeling objectified.
      Thanks for Commenting!
      Celia

  8. Profile photo of Johanna
    Johanna 8 months ago

    “But all we learn is how to make sure
    He rapes someone else” – this part is so sad yet is so true it truly makes you think about society and what we are teaching the teen age girls of this generation.

    • Profile photo of Celia Author
      Celia 8 months ago

      Johanna,
      Sadly, if a man wants to rape someone, he will rape someone. There is always going to be a girl who isn’t taking every precaution to keep from getting raped. The problem is not the girls not being modest, the problem is the man wanting to rape someone. Anyone who say otherwise is wrong.
      Thanks for the comment!
      Celia

  9. Profile photo of Mack
    Mack 8 months ago

    “Boys will be boys and girls have to accommodate.” -Very true

    • Profile photo of Celia Author
      Celia 8 months ago

      Mack,
      I wish it wasn’t true, but it is.
      Thanks for the comment!
      Celia

  10. Profile photo of Cami
    Cami 8 months ago

    Hi Celia, this poem was fantastic. Not only was it well written, but I agree with the points you made entirely. I have been dress coded in the past and because of that, I was forced to miss my math class that day. It’s ridiculous that girls showing some skin is more important than their education. It’s incredibly frustrating. Thank you for your insightful poem.

    • Profile photo of Celia Author
      Celia 8 months ago

      Cami,
      I remember you telling me about getting dress coded. I can’t believe that teachers will pull girls out of their classes and make parents leave their jobs to bring them new clothes just because the clothes are too ‘sexy’
      Thanks for the comment!
      Celia

  11. Profile photo of Grace
    Grace 8 months ago

    I think this is a very creative way of addressing such an important issue in today’s society. I especially like the point you make about how we are not fixing the problem by dressing more conservatively and checking our drinks, but rather pushing it onto someone else. I appreciate the fact that you bring up that clothing is not the issue, but rather the stigma behind it is the problem.

    • Profile photo of Celia Author
      Celia 8 months ago

      Grace,
      As I said on Johanna’s post, if a man wants to rape someone, he will. Rape is never the victim’s fault, no matter what they were wearing. Dress codes are not a solution to rape.
      Thanks for the comment!
      Celia

  12. Profile photo of Ellie
    Ellie 8 months ago

    Hi Celia,
    I think this poem is really great, and I really respect what you are trying to achieve with your writing. I think you have hit the nail on the head with the real issue with violence against young women. Great job with using examples of how girl’s are dress coded for being “immodest” when it is not the responsibility of girls to dress so as not to distract boys etc. Overall, this is amazing, great job.

    • Profile photo of Celia Author
      Celia 8 months ago

      Ellie,
      Thank you so much! You basically summarized everything that I was trying to say through my poem, so I know that I was clear in explaining my point.
      Thank you for your comment!
      Celia

  13. Profile photo of Alea
    Alea 8 months ago

    Hey Celia!
    First of all, i would like to tell you that this was a really nice piece of writing and i am SO glad you chose to speak out about such an important topic. Talking about the “taboo” that surrounds the female body is something that I think we really need to address these days. It’s stupid that girls are taught to cover up or to act a certain way just for fear of guys “not being able to control themselves”, (something i have heard from more conservative family members). I couldn’t agree more with your last statement; this is a small part of a huge problem, that encompasses all genders and societies, and hopefully writing like yours can make this problem known and addressed!

    • Profile photo of Celia Author
      Celia 8 months ago

      Alea,
      It sucks that you have family members who have sexist views. I’m surprised that guys are not offended that everyone thinks that they don’t have a bit of self control around women. I, too, hope that more people will write things like this, as well as take action in other ways.
      Thank you for commenting!
      Celia

  14. Profile photo of Chloe
    Chloe 8 months ago

    Hi Celia,
    This is a very relevant and prevalent problem you are addressing in this poem. I enjoyed the format of a poem, it was artistic, non accusatory, but well informative. This is a very real issue, in all middle and high schools, girls adhere and change, so as to not disrupt boys education. This poem is terrific because it addresses the examples in schools, but also goes down to the root of the issue in rape culture. As a female, I too have felt these pressures from a young age.

    In an article by npr, this was stated: ‘ “Don’t humiliate her because she is wearing shorts. It’s hot outside. Instead of shaming girls for their bodies, teach boys that girls are not sexual objects.” ‘
    http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2014/06/12/321268424/the-anatomy-of-a-dress-code
    Good job!

    • Profile photo of Celia Author
      Celia 8 months ago

      Chloe,

      I am always so shocked when I see articles and the like listing off reasons that girls have been dress coded. I believe that not everyone understands how policing what women wear is sexist, and that it is important to explain to people, especially teachers, how to correct their actions.

      Thanks for the comment!
      Celia

  15. Profile photo of Joey
    Joey 8 months ago

    You are addressing a serious problem that we are facing today in our country, and I really like the way that you are bringing it to light. It is not right that a girl should feel uncomfortable in clothes designed to make her feel uncomfortable. The Constitution gives us all the right of freedom of speech- that includes the clothes we wear. Therefore, no one should be ridiculed for how the dress, and girls should definitely not have to “cover up.” If you feel comfortable in your own skin, you have the right to show it. No one should tell you otherwise.

    • Profile photo of Celia Author
      Celia 8 months ago

      Joey,
      You are so right about the free speech. In my school, it is more acceptable for a boy to wear an offensive shirt (see: a half-naked woman covering her breasts with her arms, her face not visible- something that I saw on an 8th grader) than the target shorts I wore as a 6th grader (an age years to young to have any sort of sexual drive). Today is Halloween, and I expect to see a lot of slut shaming tonight, unfortunately.
      Thank you for the comment!
      Celia

  16. Profile photo of Robin
    Robin 8 months ago

    Hello Celia,
    This poem is really going to stick with me for a long time–sometimes people forget how demeaning it is to women that we have to check ourselves 100% of the time. I am truly terrified. I am terrified to go on dates. I am terrified to get on an elevator, or go into a public restroom when I am by myself. As a petite female who likes to wear sundresses and show off my legs, I find myself in a constant state of stress that I might be ridiculed, harassed or even assaulted. These acts are acts of violence–not “locker room talk” or anything like it. Being touched when you don’t want to be, being ridiculed for wearing clothing you want to wear, or anything of the like needs to be taught to other people now.

    • Profile photo of Celia Author
      Celia 8 months ago

      Robin,
      As a young girl myself, I completely the fear that you face every day. Even though I am not conventionally ‘sexy’, I am still subject to looks from older men. In light of recent events, the “locker room talk” that you mentioned, it is more important than ever to teach boys that girls are not their property.
      thank you for your comment!
      Celia

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