Addressing The Impact Of Rules Of Dress

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We're sure that some Payson High School students think that the school's administrators are prudish old fogies for tightening up the school's dress code.

Among other changes, the school's code banishes revealing shirts and blouses. It retains a ban on gang-related attire and clothing that promotes alcohol, drugs and obscene language.

But all in all, the new dress code really is not that restrictive and is a step in the right direction.

The school administration is absolutely correct in declaring that "students' appearance has a great impact on his/her behavior." The way people look has a direct effect on both the way others perceive them and act towards them -- and the way they perceive themselves.

Proof of this is right in front of us, whether we are looking in the mirror or watching how others react to our appearance. Why else do we choose specific clothes depending on where we are going and who we are going to spend time with? Why else do people put so much money, time and effort into the way they look?

There are strong arguments to be made for having students wear so-called "uniforms" to school. For one, such uniforms help to break down social barriers created by clothes of varying styles. For another, a uniform policy would save parents a bundle of money on school clothes.

Critics of school uniforms and tightened dress codes argue that these measures restrict freedom of expression. If freedom is the issue, we would do well to reflect upon the way that clothes-consciousness imprisons us. A member of a monastic sect once defended the shaved heads and standardized robes by saying that this sameness in appearance allowed the monks' true personalities to shine through all the more clearly, rather than being lost in the prejudices that "expressive" clothes inevitably generate in others.

Payson High School's rules for dress leave plenty of room for individual expression. And the tighter restrictions are a prudent step -- not a prudish one.

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