It’s All About The Dress …Code That Is

Sprinkled Notes by Julie Seedorf


Published in the Albert Lea Tribune and the Courier Sentinel the week of September  27, 2018, ©Julie Seedorf 2018


Typical high school dress of the 60’s

Watching my cousins get ready for school while I was a visitor to their home in California many years ago, I was thankful. Yes, kids can be thankful. I was in my early grade school years. I was thankful because they had to wear uniforms in their Catholic school, and back in Minnesota I didn’t.

We had a dress code, but it didn’t involve uniforms. Girls had to wear skirts or dresses, and boys had to wear dress pants and dress shirts. In the winter in Minnesota, it gets cold so we would put on pants underneath our skirts and dresses to get to school and then take them off from under our dresses and hang them up until the end of the day. You didn’t see jeans and T-shirts, but you also didn’t see uniforms.

Parents whose kids wore uniforms to school were in favor of it. It made school shopping much easier. There were no fights or arguments about who was wearing what and if someone was better than someone else because they all looked the same.

I did a little survey on different schools in Minnesota, Iowa, and California by reading their student handbooks and occasionally asking one of the students about their dress codes.

I checked out the parents and students handbook from Loyola High School in Los Angeles. I have relatives that attend this school. It is a private, all-boys Catholic school. Their dress codes still are much stricter than public schools. No over-size apparel, military-style fatigues, sweatpants, torn or ragged clothing pr tank tops. Mode of dress is collared shirts, pants or shorts. Hair must be its natural color, and certain hairstyles are restricted, such as mohawks, lettering or lines, braids, dreadlocks, spiking or excessive hairstyles. No flip-flops or sandals. Also, boys must be clean-shaven.

At their sister high school for girls, the rules say no excessively low-cut tops, shirts, pants or shorts. No bare midriffs. No backless shirts. No ripped or torn jeans or excessively tight or baggy clothing. There are more restrictions as to jewelry, shoes, and hair.

I also checked the dress code for Ankeny High School in Ankeny, Iowa, as I have a relative there who attends the high school. It states no clothing advertising items that are illegal for use by minors or no clothing with displays of vulgarity, profanity or sexual remarks. No clothing that exposes the midriff, cleavage, buttocks or underwear, or pants that expose skin. Shoes with cleats and bedroom slippers cannot be worn or shoes with wheels. That’s right, wheels, not heels. Also, according to the student no chains or spikes.

At Shakopee High School in Shakopee, what I found in their student body handbook was much shorter than the other schools. It was a short paragraph — again no lewd or discriminatory words or safety hazards such as illegal activities. Students must cover their midriff, have no bra straps showing and all students must wear shoes.

I also looked up the dress code of United South Central School in my hometown, and I was impressed by their dress code list. It was more extensive than the big city schools, all except for the private Loyola High School. Though it contained much of the same, it was more detailed such as, “Any holes in jeans must be below fingertip length when fingertips are fully extended.” And “No short shorts/skirts(must be longer than your fingertips when fully extended) spaghetti straps, bare, exposed cleavage, bare midriffs, halter tops, backless tops, underwear showing, hood or gloves etc., etc.” The entire list is very detailed.

If you are wondering why I am obsessing about the dress code in schools, it was because of an article I read by the Associated Press in a Sunday paper, which highlighted a school in Alameda, California. The title of the article was on how school dress codes are seen increasingly as targeting girls. The gist of the column was that they are relaxing their dress codes and adopting a more permissive policy that is less sexist. Students now have the freedom to wear anything, as long as it includes a top, bottom, and shoes, and it covers their private parts. According to the statements, if they have rules such as no midriff tops or low-cut blouses, they are targeting one group and are singling out girls. Students can now come to school in hoodies, ripped jeans and even pajamas if they want.

My parents and I suspect the parents of all my friends, would have been aghast at these new dress codes. According to the article, teachers are relieved they now can focus on teaching rather than on how their students are dressed. I wonder how long it will be before other public schools adopt this dress code. I wonder if the difference in dress codes will be split between rural communities and private schools with a more stringent dress code and the city schools with the more relaxed mode of dress.

I never thought of the dress code specifically targeting women. However, in talking to female students in these schools, I was told the article was correct. They felt they were unfairly targeted. For example, in a couple of the schools, girls cannot wear a shirt that shows off their shoulders, such as the style now with cut-out shoulders, but they tell me if a guy wears a shirt, they can cut the sleeves off and shorten the shirt and show their shoulders, chest, and stomach. Another complaint is that male student-athletes for cross country and track run with their shirts off as well in practice. Not that the girls want to take their shirts off, but they just feel there is a double standard.

I must admit that it makes sense, especially when a male teen in the article in the Sunday paper stated, “If someone is wearing a short shirt and you can see her stomach, it’s not her fault that she’s distracting other people.” Of course, this is from a young gentleman who is for the relaxed dress code. I guess it isn’t the male student athlete’s fault if he is distracting the teenage girl with his shirtless body.

I am split in my feelings about this. I actually really like the dress codes and rules of Loyola High School. I feel they are teaching respect in dress and in manner. I noticed one of their rules apart from the dress code was no profanity or it would be punished. That doesn’t happen anymore in our public schools.

Back in the ’50s and ’60s, we celebrated when we could have a jean day in high school. Usually it was during Homecoming week or a special Friday, otherwise, it was business as usual with dresses, skirts and dress pants for boys and casual dress shirts.

All in all, no matter the dress code in the school, it is up to parents to control what their kids wear to school and to approve apparel that won’t offend or entice. Then maybe there wouldn’t be a need for a dress code, although after thinking about it in this designer world, I might vote on the side of school uniforms for everyone. It would solve the clothes wars — and maybe class wars — because everyone would be dressed the same.

Sweet Sarah, Kitty Cat Needs A Home

I would like you all to meet Sarah. She is the sweetest girl and because of a move and allergies Sarah has to have a new home. I am helping because I love Sarah and I cannot take her because I have two shysters of my own and the person I share my life with does not think I need three. Sarah belongs to someone that is very special to me. Read the details under Sarah’s picture and you will see what she is like. Feel free to share.Sarah

On The Road To Iowa!

Something About Nothing – Column for Albert Lea Tribune, March 17, 2014

On the road again. Just can’t wait to get on the road again. iowa photo: Iowa Iowa.png

Those words from the Willie Nelson song rumbled through my head as we prepared for a trip to Iowa for a weekend of fun with our son and his children. We had not been across the border, down south, well, a little down south, since the beginning of October. Every time we prepared to get on the road again, we had a snowstorm.

I want to share a few thoughts with you about our visit traveling across the Minnesota border to outside of Des Moines. I always find experiences when I travel that direction or at least something that makes me laugh and wonder.

I gave thanks when I stepped out of my car and I could remove my winter jacket and walk around a house on the dormant grass.

I learned that I need to brush up on my Xbox skills so my grandson doesn’t keep beating me in “Madden NFL” and some other crafty game. Of course, it would have helped had he actually explained what I was supposed to be doing and what the buttons meant on the controller.

The first game we played, which I can’t remember the name, his character blasted me right at the beginning, time and time again, and, yes, I quit in protest of not knowing how to play. My goal, I will learn and conquer and surprise him in the future.

I reinforced my opinion of some drivers on the interstate. Some drivers really are idiots.

I know I must remember the correct name of Orange Leaf frozen yogurt. My grandkids think it’s funny because I always call it Orange Peel. The yogurt tastes the same no matter whether you call the place Orange Leaf or Orange Peel. It is yummy.

It is possible when you wake up in the morning and are in a new community, and you realize you can’t stand your hair one more day, that you can walk into a salon and find a stylist that cuts and styles your hair exactly as you wanted it. When panic mode hits and your normal stylist is hundreds of miles away, there is someone who can save you.

Attending the “Mr. Peabody & Sherman” movie I noticed the adult men were laughing louder at some of the nuances in the movie than the children. I wondered how many of those subtle comments my young grandchildren would remember and ask later on what they meant. Why do movies for kids now have to have suggestive comments in them for adults?

It is possible to meet new friends in strange places. Another grandmother and I bonded at our grandchildren’s gymnastic practice over exercise. We decided the frog hop and the “pull the pad by your toes as you crawl across the floor” — we didn’t know the real name for the exercise — would be perfect for us to try at home. We agreed we wouldn’t let anyone else watch us. We decided to skip the upside-down-against-the-wall exercise as we felt we are a little balance challenged and our heads are dizzy enough without turning upside down. The strange thing about talking to this new friend was that it felt as if we had known each other a long time. I hope we meet up again.

I came away from a conversation about Sunday school with my grandchildren wondering why we don’t take kids’ advice when they have suggestions for making learning in Sunday school more interesting. They have some good ideas.

I concluded that unless we can figure out a way to turn off the electronics it is going to be a hard sell to turn children into readers in this gadget world of ours. Thank goodness for teachers who assigns their class reading assignments where the kids have to read at least 20 minutes every evening. Maybe in that short space of time something will spark a love for reading so they want to put aside their gadgets and get lost in the words and pages of books.

I learned on this trip that my 11-year-old granddaughter is a good cook. Not only can she cook, she makes it look like the enticing food on the cooking shows. My mouth still is watering from her scrumptious French toast and strawberries and cream.  She, unlike me, has the patience to stand and nurture what is cooking instead of walking away and ignoring it until she thinks it is done. She taught me that if she can be patient while cooking, I can too.

As we traveled the road back to Minnesota in the nighttime hours, I became aware of the number of people who have died on the freeway this year in the state of Iowa. Signs over the freeway in the darkness at various points in the road flashed those numbers and warned us to drive safely.

As we came back to Minnesota that night I looked at the beautiful stars in the sky and the brightness of the landscape at night because of the snow and marveled at the differences a few hours can make in our lives.

I thought back to my experiences during the weekend and was filled with wonder at how many experiences small and large that we travel through in our lifetime. The tiny pieces of moments and experiences weave together to change something about us, however small. We may not notice, but we are changed by the moments not just the hours and days.

“Miracles come in moments. Be ready and willing.” — Wayne Dyer