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Teen exposes 'sexist' school dress code with outfit experiment: 'Nobody ever said anything to me'

·3-min read

A high schooler in Illinois decided to challenge his school’s dress code. He proved the sexism by wearing almost identical outfits with his fellow girl classmates to see how long it took for them to get written up.

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Drew Jarding, one of the students involved in the social experiment, uploaded the footage to his TikTok as part of a series where he would wear clothes that would “get [him] dress coded if [he] were a girl.” 

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“I have a bunch of girlfriends, and they all tell me about how they get written up on dress code for things — they shouldn’t like expose [a] shoulder and whatnot,” Jarding explained to In The Know. “Even prior to this, I had worn clothes all throughout high school that have gone against [the dress code] — just me being ignorant. I didn’t know that it was against the dress code, and nobody ever said anything to me.”

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A comment on one of Jarding’s videos suggested he film side-by-side with a girl to really highlight the discrepancy between how they would be treated despite wearing similar outfits. Jarding and two girlfriends wore crop tops to school — which is not allowed — and both girls eventually got written up before the end of the day.

Jarding also pointed out that he had actually broken two dress code rules that day and was never looked at twice.

“You can’t have shorts above the knees, you can’t have spaghetti straps and you can’t like wear [a] crop top that exposes the stomach,” he said. In addition to his crop top, Jarding wore shorts that hit above his knees in the video.

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For years, people have battled the oppressiveness behind school dress codes. Professor Meredith Neville-Shepard said in a paper she published in 2019, that “dress code defenders paint female immodesty as responsible for several harmful potentialities, including negative social judgments, sexual harassment and the distraction of male students in the classroom.” 

The fact that Jarding, a current senior, had no idea there even was a dress code for him to violate shows how sexist these rules can be. Of course, it’s not just limited to his high school either.

Since starting the series, other students have started challenging their dress codes and uploading the footage to TikTok, which is actually exactly what Jarding hoped would happen.

“That’s the whole purpose of the video — to give a starting point to those who want to make [a] change, basically,” Jarding explained. 

As of now, Jarding has only received positive feedback from both the TikTok community and even from some of the teachers at his school.

“I definitely knew that I wasn’t the only one going to a school with these sexist dress codes,” he added. “I knew that if I sort of made [the TikTok] not centered [around] my school that more people would pick up on it.”

Jarding also took the opportunity to make a larger statement on clothing being genderless. In a video he uploaded at the end of August, he showed himself going to school in a white pleated skirt for the first time. 

“Wearing a skirt to school because clothes don’t have genders,” he captioned the clip. 

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“100% TikTok encouraged me [to wear a skirt] because there’s no way that I would — well, I mean, I don’t want to say ‘no way,’ but I wouldn’t normally decide to do that out of my own volition,” he said. “I think it’s definitely [thanks to] TikTok because I knew that the dress code [videos] had gotten so popular, so I thought [I] might as well touch on other subjects as well.”

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