Opinion: Dress code: Uncomfortable learning attire

Joy Gentil, Staff Writer

On a daily basis here at Seabury Hall, it is fairly common to spot Coach B (or Mr. Batchelder) talking to students, girls in particular, about how their leggings do not have belt loops, or how their dresses are far too short.

As Seabury Hall students, we are all aware that we have a strict dress code that is enforced with strict consequences. Breaking dress code regulations results in detention, lots and lots of detention. So why do we keep breaking those rules? Why do we keep wearing leggings or t-shirts without collars? It is about time to come face-to-face with this recurring phenomenon here at Seabury Hall.

The answer is simple: we love feeling comfortable. That’s all it is. In my experience speaking to other girls about our dress code, they all talk about the same thing: comfort. Let’s admit it, we all want to feel comfortable in every aspects of our lives, especially at school, a place where we come to learn and grow.

I have noticed that people do things to their best ability when they are comfortable with themselves, and clothing is one way to make ourselves feel confident and at ease. This is exactly why Seabury Hall girls love wearing their oversized sweaters or their cozy sweatpants when they are very much aware that they are not allowed to.

Our dress code here at Seabury Hall is quite simple: a collared shirt and a pair of jeans, because, let’s be honest, there are not any dresses or skirts are made to be only two inches above the knee.

This is where another problem arises revolving comfort. Why should we be expected to wear jeans if we cannot find any that are both affordable, comfortable, and won’t give us girls a “hot flash”? Teenage girls use this term to describe that midday heat during school when they start to sweat profusely. In our case at Seabury Hall, this “hot flash” is due to the mandatory dress code of jeans and stuffy cotton polo shirts.

I’d say learning becomes impossible in the midst of this unstoppable heat wave that girls so often experience. This is the underlying reason as to why girls wear those prohibited lightweight leggings.
We are not trying to accentuate our bodies; we are trying to come to school in the most comfortable attire that we can in order to be able to focus without worrying about how much we are sweating in our jeans. After all, we live in Hawaii! If Seabury Hall was a school in the mountains of Colorado, or in the outskirts of Oregon, jeans would probably be a much more reasonable clothing option.

Our Olinda mornings are chilly from about 7:30 to 9:00. After that, our long sleeved cotton collared shirts and dark jeans become our worst nightmare. Walking from class to class can be enough to set off the inescapable humidity that all of us islanders experience.

It is understandable that our school officials do not want any distraction from our education due to our attire, but it is also important to consider the fact that comfort also enhances our learning abilities. While fashion may be important to some students, the main concern for most students is that we are given the freedom to feel comfortable in the clothes we wear to school.

It is safe to say that boys have a much easier time with feeling comfortable, since their attire can be shorts and a polo shirt found at almost any retail store. This leaves us girls as the rule breakers, the ones that end the week with three hours of detention. Many of my female classmates have admitted that they still wear their collared shirts from middle school because where in the world do you find collared shirts for girls? It is a scavenger hunt that many of us are tired of trying to win.

By now, you’re probably wondering what I’m suggesting we do about our conflicting dress code. Well, my main concern has always been comfort, and feeling confident, cozy, and focused solely on school and not running away from authorities who could give me detention.

While I do agree that our community here at Seabury Hall should continue to present ourselves professionally, we should make a conscious effort to come up with a new and improved comfortable way of dressing.

I suggest to keep things simple, yet modest. Perhaps short-sleeved shirts without inappropriate graphics, and any type of pants regardless of whether it has belt loops or not. That way, we will all be comfortable, happy teenagers no longer hunting down affordable collared shirts that seem to be a rarity here on Maui.

Instead, we will be coming to school feeling unafraid of our authorities. Not only will our students have much less detention if we can agree on our attire, teachers won’t have to stay back at school proctoring anyone who violated the dress code rules. Students will be happy, comfortable, confident, and, most importantly, eager to learn.