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.

Is Honesty the Normal Policy?

Something About Nothing

by Julie Seedorf

© August 2018

published in the Albert Lea Tribune Sunday, August 12, 2018


The Dog Days of Summer was going to be the topic of my column this week until I saw “Reality Check” by Pat Kessler on WCCO television. The topic was an ad by Governor Candidate Tim Pawlenty where he claims he will stop undocumented immigrants from stealing millions from Minnesota. The ad claims Minnesota is wasting hundreds of millions giving free health care to people who are not eligible.

Now before you begin attacking me for being biased for one party over another I have said before, I vote for the candidate, not the party. Long, long ago I did vote for Tim Pawlenty, one time.

In “Reality Check” Kessler stated the 2016 non-partisan study by the office of the Minnesota Legislative Auditor which the ad is based on, is true and it is true that the office reviewed a sampling of thousands of Minnesota Medicaid and Minnesota Care files and found 30 percent of the participants may have been ineligible. Many did not qualify for the program for which they were enrolled and others were not eligible at all. The study is real but it is an exaggeration that undocumented immigrants are responsible. The audit does not say that. It cites immigration as a small fraction of the problem. The audit blames lack of oversight, poor training and lack of updated software for the problem. Undocumented workers are not the problem.

I suspect the ad is misleading because immigration is a hot button topic right now and we are quick to place blame on illegal immigrants because it riles people up and gets our attention when in reality the truth is somewhere in between. Don’t get me wrong I suspect both sides do this. It is up to us to sift through the information and find the truth and it can be hard to do with so many fake news sites and real news sites that do not give us both sides of the issue. Being informed is not easy. It is time-consuming and hard work.

I will admit to not making informed decisions on occasion in my voting in the past. I will admit to passing on news of Social Media sites that I take at face value not looking into the validity or the truth of what is being said. I will admit to not being the smartest bulb on the planet in many areas and politics may be one of them because I have not done my homework. But it is no longer acceptable for me to vote for someone because I think they are a nice person or they are a friend. I have done that in the past and voted blindly because I liked someone’s personality and what they are showing to the world.

Let’s face it we do not personally know the people we are voting for. We make assumptions based on what they look like and what they project in the public eye. It is easy to change our public persona and if we are a good pitchman or a persuasive person. It is even easier to sway opinion no matter what field we work in. We might actually be a vile person. Think of serial killers and how surprised people are to find out about their dark side when they have only known them as being a friendly neighbor or good guy or gal.

After listening to Pat Kessler I decided to do my own reality check on some social media posts that are being passed around on both the Republican and Democratic side of the coin. It was amazing what the facts were once they were found some actually on the Government website such as Social Security and the benefits for Welfare pages proving the posts to be false or half-truths. Again the truth was skewed and facts were somewhere in the middle. Both the conservative and the liberal websites skewed the truth. Only the websites which presented both sides of the issue were anywhere near the truth.

Because we are so quick to believe that which sides with our viewpoint, we may be passing along untruths to further an agenda which is not based on facts or truth. We point fingers at the other side and place blame which in many instances is unfair in its basis.

Primaries are coming up. I would urge each and every one on both sides of the spectrum to take the time to do your research and flush out the truth whether it agrees with your opinion or not. The truth is important. It is time we quit making decisions based on what is fed to us through the proliferation of advertising for each candidate which may only have half of the truth woven in the statements being made.

I believe we owe it to our country, to our children and to ourselves to quit the rhetoric, make informed decisions based on rational thinking and vote for candidates who represent honestly what they are spouting and hold them accountable to the truth.  That is if we can find one who doesn’t skew the truth to make themselves look good. That in itself may be a frustrating journey. It seems candidates today think they can’t be honest to win an election.

Oh and by the way, here is another truth. Just because I am an author it doesn’t mean I am the smartest bulb in the planet when it comes to literary works either. Trivia friends this means you. There too I tend to only pay attention to books which fit my reading personality, light and fluffy. It is good I don’t have to vote on anything there

Believe What You Believe?

san logoSomething About Nothing

My column from the Albert Lea Tribune July 30, 2018

This message has been trending on social media: “Crazy … it worked! After reposting this to all my friends, my newsfeed showed a whole new batch of friends’ posts I haven’t been seeing.

“Here’s how to avoid hearing from the same 25 Facebook friends, due to Facebook’s new algorithm. If you are reading this message, do me a favor and leave me a quick comment… a “hello,” a sticker, whatever you want, so you will appear in my newsfeed! Then, copy and paste onto your wall so you can have more interaction with all your contacts.”

I know this is false and does not work, but I have seen it so many times the part of my brain which feeds sensible thought changed and I began to believe that possibly this was true, even though I had checked it out with factual sources. After all, could so many intelligent people be misled? My truth was starting to change. Maybe I needed to try it because there is the chance it could work in spite of what factual sources state.

This happens in our lives too. If someone tells us we are stupid or ugly or are a failure and it is repeated often enough, one begins to change what we believe about ourselves. There are studies that support this theory.

How many products do we buy because the commercials appearing during our television viewing time repeat over and over again? We buy products too good to be true because we watch the hype merry-go-rounded until we believe using a certain vitamin will take away our bunions. In fact, ask yourself how many times during the commercial break on a television show you have seen the same commercial twice or even three times in a few minutes. Think about it — would fake products be selling if somehow we weren’t enticed into believing they can cure the incurable or make us want that which we always stated we didn’t need?

It also makes a difference who is speaking. Back in the ’50s, Verne Gagne was selling a certain type of vitamin. My parents bought it because Verne was popular, and in those days people tended to believe those who were in the limelight, whether they used the product or not. It was all about who was giving them the pitch. Were they trustworthy? And how did they know they could trust them?

In 2018 our brains are hit every single second while we are on social media with messages to buy, believe or fix something. They burn into our brain over and over again so much we began to believe that which is not true, such as the Facebook message above. And then we tend to not believe the sites, news people or others that actually report the truth. We do not take the time to investigate.

Is it a form of brainwashing? I feel it is.

An article on by psychologist Tom Stafford posted on Oct. 26, 2016, is titled: “How liars create the illusion of truth.” He states, “Repetition makes a fact seem truer, regardless of whether it is or not. Understanding this effect can help you avoid falling for propaganda.”

These days, we seem to be arguing about Facebook posts, statements in the newspapers, what politicians and celebrities say as to the validity of the truth. We accept what is printed and posted and shouted as the truth without actually investigating where the statement is coming from or whether the person making the pitch is actually who they say they are. We accept it as valid, depending on what we believe, and we may believe the statement because of what we have been fed either by someone in our lives personally such as “you are stupid” or by what we do and see out in the world. We believe without question if the point of view that is fed to us aligns with what we concur. But I think we have to ask ourselves if we believe what we believe because we investigated and came to a sensible decision, or if we believe what we believe because we have seen it over and over again in front of us so that it is burned into our brain and has changed the way we perceive things — or if we believe what is being said because of it being passed down by someone who had the same values as us. And we don’t question who or what the source is or if it is valid because we think the same way.

I am as guilty of this as anyone else. I have to ask myself if I believe what I believe to be true because I have based my decision on facts, or if I have followed along blindly because it feeds that which I already believe whether the source is fact or fake. I also have to ask myself why I trust the speaker. Are they known to be truthful, or do they tell me what I want to hear for their own gain? After all, as John Steinbeck stated,” It has always been my private conviction that any man who puts his intelligence up against a fish and loses had it coming.” I guess I will believe that.

Oh, and I won’t be offended if you don’t believe me. After all, this could be all fake news.

This is the link to the article I quoted if you are interested: BBC Article