September 27, 2006

A big WaPo story on the sexy T-shirts teenagers wear.

Come on, should this be a long news story? It's all padded out with phrases that are printed on T-shirts, and surely you get the point after, oh, the fourth one. Or are you telling me it's a serious issue because school officials have to wonder and fret about what, oh, what to do about it?
"We try not to make a huge deal out of it, but we also want to be protecting the school environment," said Rick Mondloch, an associate principal at Robinson Secondary School in Fairfax County, who recently ordered a "Pimps" shirt turned inside out. "These shirts are more risque than they were even five years ago and probably a little more blunt, so you have to be attuned to it."

Robynne Prince, an assistant principal at Eleanor Roosevelt, said: "If there are shirts with obvious sexual connotations, then we know exactly what we're going to do, but there are some students who push the envelope."
Oh, spare me. Why is anyone paid to spend time on this problem? Ban all shirts with any message and move on to trying to do something to educate students. Prince's comment is especially laughable, because it highlights the challenge for those who manufacture those T-shirts teenagers buy: Figure out phrases with sexual connotations that won't be obvious to people who aren't teenagers.

94 comments:

HD_Wanderer said...

"Ban all shirts with any message and move on"

Exactly!

Derve said...

"Ban all shirts with any message"

Have you been shopping, or in the halls of a non-elite public school lately? Enforcing this isn't a credible option. Non-offensive printed words are on almost every t-shirt. They should have to buy new shirts for such a ban?

No working parent is going to support a rule that makes a kid take off a perfectly fine shirt because someone else gets off pushing the envelope. Need something more narrowly tailored than this. It might be the best solution on paper, not in real American schools.

Ann Althouse said...

Derve: False. There are plenty of plain T-shirts. And the simple solution is to wear them inside out. Alternatively: uniforms!

Palladian said...

"Real American schools" should have mandatory uniforms. Period. It would solve a lot of extra-educational problems besides the naughty word one.

Ann Althouse said...

And don't you realize that the "narrow tailoring" here is what has the potential to violate freedom of speech? You're judging the message to draw the lines. A broad, content-neutral rule is much more legally sound than judging the message.

Too Many Jims said...

Our school district this year adopted a rather "strict" dress code which forbids any messages/images on clothing. Small logos (e.g. would fit on a pocket) are allowed but that is it.

Derve said...

Uniforms? Inside out shirts... when there is nothing at all wrong with what is written on them?

If I were a parent and those were the options, let it all in, I'd say. Penalizing kids for not wearing plain shirts is just... unAmerican. Nothing in those slogans printed in the article is so bad to call for that kind of drastic measure.

It's nice that you want to protect the "children" from themselves, but I'm surprised you support such draconian measures. After shirts, they gonna start evaluating how tight the blouses and jeans are? Or how you're sitting in class showing off your assets? (Button up, missy!)

I think most public schools have bigger concerns than dress code, but then I don't worry that most schools would react similarly.

Palladian said...

"It's nice that you want to protect the "children" from themselves, but I'm surprised you support such draconian measures. After shirts, they gonna start evaluating how tight the blouses and jeans are? Or how you're sitting in class showing off your assets? (Button up, missy!)"

Children do need protected from themselves. That's why they're called "children". Since society no longer has a reliable standard of acceptable public dress, a mandatory uniform is the only way to solve this and similar problems.

I dress uniformly, and it solves many, many problems in life. Not that I was given to wear "Juicy" sweatpants or anything. Different problems.

Everyone should accessorize with perfume!

Paco Wové said...

Speaking as an actual parent, I'd be fine with uniforms. Our kid doesn't have any printed t-shirts anyway, so I'd be fine with that too.

Derve said...

"Children do need protected from themselves. That's why they're called "children".

lol. You elitists slay me. Your offspring are now "children" until what ... 25? 30?

Thank heavens for rural schools, homeschooling, and the common sense that pervades in economically mixed suburban high schools.

If you want to grow responsible adults, you let them make decisions and face consequences. Setting them up to "battle authority" because you're treating them like babies who can't dress themselves is no answer.

Simon said...

They do it because they're being subversive. The obvious solution is for all the teachers to start wearing similar t-shirts; even if one sight of Mr. Smith, the septugenerian math teacher, wearing a tight t-shirt that says "two boys for every girl" doesn't make them retch convulsively, there is nothing that can make a trend seem uncool faster than that trend's co-option by those people who are by definition the epitome of uncool, viz., the faculty.

Simon said...

On the other hand, I fully agree with the uniform suggestion. Even if the uniform is little more than dress pants and tie, that'd be an improvement.

Dave said...

"Figure out phrases with sexual connotations that won't be obvious to people who aren't teenagers."

French Connection U.K.

(For those who don't know: it's a British clothing brand.)

MadisonMan said...

I've never understood parents who foot the bill for such clothing purchases.

Put me down for plain Tshirts. Or even plain button-down shirts.

Ann Althouse said...

I like the idea of white shirts and plain black pants as a uniform. It's not oppressive, like plaid pleated skirts or ties. Just slightly serious and simple. It would save parents a lot of money too.

Derve said...

I hate to be the voice of reality facing off against all you Boomers looking to fix problems that don't really exist, but...

Can anyone explain the rise in "alternative" high schools? That is, publicly funded schools for students we don't want to drop out, but who just aren't into all your unnecessary rules and restrictions.

If a kid can't wear a perfectly fine concert t-shirt, or shirt with a printed brand or slogan...
If you think that all "children" today are going to go along with dressing everday in "white shirts and plain black pants" like catering staff, you should look into what these "alternative" schools cost the taxpayer.

Leave them alone to dress as they like. You're making a mountain out of a molehill... just like the "Jessica is posing" nonsense.

Honestly, when did all the Boomers grow up to be control freaks, worrying about what other people's kids are wearing? It's not the big problem that needs to be solved that you think.

Again I ask, will you then start it on monitoring just how those simple white shirts and black pants are worn? Kids are always going to go in for a more unique look -- remember those pushing the envelope with short-short mini's, Ann? Now everyone must dress like a caterer because we fear such provocation from the kids of today?

More sad than funny really

Kent said...

My first reaction is to ask "What kind of parent lets her kid wear a shirt like this?"

Apparently Derve has answered the question.

Derve said...

What kind of parent lets her kid wear a shirt like this? Apparently Derve has answered the question.

No. If you really have a good argument for dress codes, you don't have to misconstrue what I'm saying.

My concern is for the teens who choose and buy their own clothes -- not button downs, or plain black pants and white shirts -- but perfectly fine student clothing nonetheless.

Listen, do you really want high schools to ban the "Wisconsin" shirts and sweatshirts you see all over college campuses? Or the Packers/Vikings warm clothing often displayed on Mondays? Or the shirts with holiday-themed sayings that some like to put together for special days?

No ban is needed. Ignore the provocative dressers, or make use of constructive peer pressure if those wearing such things are going to bring down a schoolwide ban on regular clothes.

There's an in-between, and the message you're sending all kids with a mandatory dress code when there really haven't been any unsurmountable problems, is sad. It's way bigger than just objecting to the small percentage of "envelope pushers".

Why not get involved in your local school boards if you think gang insignia, or provacative clothing is a major issue in your district?

MadisonMan said...

Packers clothing is fine. Vikings clothing is not -- unless it has a really tight collar, befitting a team of chokers. :)

Xanthippas said...

Derve,

I'm a liberal Gen X'r who only had his first kid a year ago, and I can promise you that my kid won't wear anything that be remotely construed as "suggestive" to school.

I have a really good argument for dress codes. Teenagers wear stuff to be deliberately subversive and provocative, teenage girls and boys wear sexually suggestive t-shirts, kids experience tremendous peer pressure over what kinds of clothes they wear, parents have to pay for the brand names that kids want to wear to school, and it would be a hell of a lot simpler just to require kids to wear uniforms.

Look, I'm all about teenagers having the freedom to express themselves in a variety of ways. But part of being a parent is teaching your kids how to express themselves and their individuality, and I don't think wearing a sexually suggestive t-shirt is an appropriate way to express yourself when you're at school.

Simon said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Simon said...

"I hate to be the voice of reality facing off against all you Boomers looking to fix problems."

LOL. I know Ann is a boomer, but I have no idea how old Madison Man and Palladian are, and I'm on the XY Cusp. My parents would be baby boomers, had they been born in America, I suppose. I mainly agree with Xanthippas' comment, although my son's a little older than his.

Jason said...

Several points;

I often drop my boys off at High School and Junior High on a varied basis. I find it rather interesting that the basic dress is the same as when I was in both in the 70s (the hair is the biggest obvious difference.)

My oldest daughter used to wear "provocative" T-Shirts just to tick off the authorities (especially the vice-principal.) "Playboy" would always do the trick. Obscure beer brands, especially if they had only logos, got mixed reaction since she wasn't always caught. One teacher did and gave her a thumbs up for her choice.

If you make the kids wear uniforms, they will sexualize them so fast your head will spin. I recently saw a picture of some teenagers in uniforms waiting at a bus stop. There was that group of girls who knew exactly how tight and how short to make everything.

Ultimately, this is one of those stories portending horror that teenagers have minds of their own and are heavily sexualized. I roll my eyes.

Simon said...

Question: Derve, are your children of an age (I guess 8-16) for the concerns entailed in this issue to be of concern to you, in anything other than the abstract? Just curious.

Jason said...

I'm a liberal Gen X'r who only had his first kid a year ago, and I can promise you that my kid won't wear anything that be remotely construed as "suggestive" to school.

This made me laugh. I love it when new parents declare how they will handle their kids once they become teenagers.

You do remember the trick of wearing one set of clothes to school then changing in the bathroom or locker room? (Works especially well if the first class is gym.)

It's possible you may have a child like my youngest, who is obedient and calm and never causes trouble. Or you may have an extreme hellion like my oldest daughter.

Derve said...

"I don't think wearing a sexually suggestive t-shirt is an appropriate way to express yourself when you're at school."

No do I.

Teenagers wear stuff to be deliberately subversive and provocative, teenage girls and boys wear sexually suggestive t-shirts, kids experience tremendous peer pressure over what kinds of clothes they wear, parents have to pay for the brand names that kids want to wear to school, and it would be a hell of a lot simpler just to require kids to wear uniforms.

Maybe more than dress codes, your school districts need to be offering evening classes on how to parent assertively in today's society?

Because under your erroneous assumptions, what's next? Nobody gets to drive until 18 or 21 because Johnny speeds in the expensive Corvette he made us buy him when he was 16?

But part of being a parent is teaching your kids how to express themselves and their individuality

Exactly! And enacting a white shirt/black pants dress code allows parents to shirk that very responsibility, while reigning in the individual freedoms of those students who have already learned this simple lesson.

It's no big deal to adults maybe, but the clothes you choose to wear to express yourself are one of the few freedoms afforded kids today.

Derve said...

Simon:

My twins are 15; we have a foster son who is 12, but behind a year in school, and our youngest girl is 8.

Fwiw.

Joan said...

enacting a white shirt/black pants dress code allows parents to shirk that very responsibility, while reigning in the individual freedoms of those students who have already learned this simple lesson.

This is crap. School is not a place where children or teens need the "freedom" to express their "individuality" through their clothing choices. Free dress makes clothing a perpetual worry and a distraction to the purpose of school, which is learning, not socializing.

My kids' school has a simple dress code: red, white, or blue shirts with a collar (polos, button-downs, or turtlenecks), blue or tan pants, shorts, or for the girls, jumpers or skirts. There are rules about how short the shorts and skirts can be, and rules about how long the pants can be, and rules about how low-riding the shorts and pants can be.

It is the easiest thing in the world for my kids to get dressed for school in the morning, and it is easy and inexpensive to keep them in school clothes. Target, Wal-Mart and Old Navy all sell fine, durable school clothes that fit the dress code.

I went from a uniform school to a free dress school in junior high, and it was a nightmare. I never had the right clothes, and even when I did, I still wanted others. On the odd days our school here does allow free dress, the difference in the atmosphere is palpable, and it's not a positive change.

Balfegor said...

Figure out phrases with sexual connotations that won't be obvious to people who aren't teenagers.

You might be surprised how innocent many teenagers (even teenagers who make a great show of being "worldly") can be. In high school, one of my sisters got a car, and the license plate included "PEN15" -- you'd think they'd scan for that kind of thing, but evidently now. At any rate, she did not realise how that looked until it was pointed out to her by her younger sister (then in elementary school).

Re: uniforms -- splendid suggestion! I simply do not understand why people object to school uniforms. Sure people can play with it (e.g. wearing accessories like scarves or purses, or having things tailored so the skirts are short or everything is oversize, etc.), but the range of potential offensiveness is severely constricted. And buying school clothes is greatly simplified too.

Ann Althouse said...

I wonder how many kids take jobs just so they can buy the clothes they feel they need. They should be doing homework!

Joe Baby said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Joe Baby said...

Interesting comments re: "How I will dress my child when they visit Babylon"

MadisonMan said...

Xanthippas -- speaking as the Dad of a teenager and a tween, I have to say that your statement I can promise you that my kid won't wear anything that be [can] remotely construed as "suggestive" to school makes me simultaneously laugh and roll my eyes. You have so much to learn.

Palladian said...

I'm not a "Boomer", I'm 31. And, to throw the proverbial wrench in the rusty gears of Derve's brain machine, I'm gay and don't plan on having children. Armed with this information, I'm sure i'll be accused of being out of touch. But I was a teenager once, at a school that didn't require uniforms, and I don't remember any girls or boys wearing shirts with nasty messages printed on them, save for the stray "Poison" or "Whitesnake" tee-shirt. The culture has obviously changed in the last 15 years and so the administration of public schools should adapt to those changes. As Ann suggests, instead of trying to decipher the patois of teenagers and those who sell things to them on a flimsy case-by-case basis, just institute a simple uniform (not necessarily plaid skirts and ties, though I have nothing against them). Lots of problems solved with minimal effort.

Derve said...

I never had the right clothes, and even when I did, I still wanted others.

It is the easiest thing in the world for my kids to get dressed for school in the morning.

And buying school clothes is greatly simplified too.

Anything to keep the laziest parents happy then. Garanimal dorks rule the school. Your kid can be cool too!

Alternative schools financed by the taxpayers for all others. Open your wallets because Joan won't popular as a kid.

Derve said...

They should be doing homework!

I'm sure calls for "home visits from the homework police!!" will be next for some of these parents who need extra help raising their kids in these scary times.

Noumenon said...

Have you been shopping, or in the halls of a non-elite public school lately? Enforcing this isn't a credible option. Non-offensive printed words are on almost every t-shirt.

When I went to Spain in 2000, I wanted to get a printed T-shirt to prove I was there, you know, "Yo fui a Espana, and all I got was..."

I couldn't find a single t-shirt with writing on it the whole three months I was there.

Derve said...

Lucky thing most non-elite high schoolers responsible for buying their own clothes don't shop in Spain, eh?

Balfegor said...

I'm not a "Boomer", I'm 31.

And I'm 24! And I think we should force them all into Eton collars! Hahahaha.

I'm sure calls for "home visits from the homework police!!" will be next for some of these parents who need extra help raising their kids in these scary times.

I don't care about the parents -- if we think homework is important (I am actually agnostic about this, until high school, at which point I think it can be meaningful), we should arrange our grading systems so that if you fail to do homework, you fail! And stop giving out so many A's.

Balfegor said...

Can anyone explain the rise in "alternative" high schools? That is, publicly funded schools for students we don't want to drop out, but who just aren't into all your unnecessary rules and restrictions.

Derve makes a big deal about how much these cost:

Alternative schools financed by the taxpayers for all others. Open your wallets because Joan won't popular as a kid.

Excellent point! Stop funding them.

Noumenon said...

Whatever, I just thought it was interesting that clothes with writing on them are such an American thing. It could be all about color and pattern, the way other fashion things are. Like why don't couches or cars come with writing on them, but shirts do?

sonicfrog said...

When I saw the shirts my first thought was: "Gee, wasn't that a lyric to a Beach Boys / Led Zepplin / ACDC song I listened to when I was in high school in the 80's?". And then I think of my parents dismay that their children would listen to so much smutty music. And now I when I hear some kid blasting 50 Cent or Kane West from the car seven cars behind my I think: "My God! Those kids are gonna be deaf by the time they're 35! I need to invest in companies that manufacture and sell hearing aids and wait for the inevitable 'Boom' market". OK - THEN I wonder how these kids listen to such smutty music.

It seems the shirts are more of a distraction to the adults than they are to student's classmates. And if you think the shirts are bad, try listening to some of the music they listen to every day. But isn't all this the result of living in an open society, where self expression is in itself a recognized societal value? We idolize the rebel - the maveric who breaks the rules, thinks "outside the box" and accomplishes great things. I don't think kids should have free reign, but I do think we as adults need to be careful where, i.e. with what issues, we choose to draw the line. I have no kids, same situation as Palladian, so maybe I have less of a bone to pick.

Did I just describe being gay as a "situation"?

PS. I will be subbing in the local school district soon so I will have to be aware of dress codes.

sonicfrog said...

Simon says:-)

...there is nothing that can make a trend seem uncool faster than that trend's co-option by those people who are by definition the epitome of uncool, viz., the faculty.

HA! A most obvious solution. I think I'll get a mohawk! That'll show em!!!

Derve said...

Excellent point! Stop funding them.

Right on!
But I keep looking and looking, and I just don't see where I can check that box on my tax return.

George said...

My kids have gone to schools that require uniforms and those that don't.

Uniforms work. They're cheaper than costly brand name clothes. A big plus. Kids don't mind them. (True!)

On the other hand, children are Karma Testers (TM). They're here to shake the place up, whether we like it or not.

Yesterday my son (who never tucks in his shirt-tail), 14, mocked my daughter, 12, because she was headed out the door wearing pants that had un-tie-able bow-ties on each buttock. I looked at this odd fashion statement. I asked her if boys had bothered her. She said no. She's a tough sweet kid. I believe her. As someone noted above, there's lots of stuff kids never take note of....that drives parents NUTS.

Derve said...

They're cheaper than costly brand name clothes. A big plus. Kids don't mind them.

Reading these comments, I see the real problem isn't addressing scandalous fashion, or concerns for learning environment.

It's conforming other people's children to your bland standards because middle-class parents can't think of any other way to get out of buying designer clothes for their own.

And it makes the morning "what should I wear?" dilemma in the home go away.

So why not just be honest?
It's not really the "juicy" pants (that gal might just have a 32 ACT) or the witty anti-PC slogans that bother you.

It's that your kids can't handle simple societal pressures without parents intervening -- not just telling your own kid what they can wear, but telling everyone's kid. Helicoptor parents hovering over one and all.

Good luck with that one. I really thought we had more libertarians in here. (Ann-- your parents must be aghast, thinking they raised you better than "white shirt and pants" for all. :)

Derve said...

Now about that hair, son ...

Joan said...

Derve: Anything to keep the laziest parents happy then. Garanimal dorks rule the school. Your kid can be cool too!

So, tell me, Derve, were you sent to a military school and forced to wear a real uniform 24/7 except during holidays when you could've gone home to Mum and Dad, but didn't, because they were off doing something without you? Why must the simple, flexible dress code I described, which eliminates the problems of inappropriate dress, cliques, and any number of distractions in the school, be reduced to "garanimals", worn of course only by dorks? And who said anything about wanting my kids to be "cool"?

You've got a serious anti-dress code attitude, and I'd love to explore where that's coming from. If the best refutation you can come up with is to blame lazy parents, you're going to have to work harder than that to convince anyone. Teachers and administrators love dress codes, the vast majority of parents support them, and the kids, quite frankly, don't care.

They can wear whatever they want outside of school, after all. How is it any different from the majority of adults who have to dress in a particular way for their workplace versus how they dress at home? It isn't.

You think this has something to do with protecting our kids against societal pressures -- you're right. What's wrong with freeing my kids from having to care about what they're wearing to school? How is that a bad thing? They still have to deal with every other aspect of peer pressure. You seem to think that putting all the kids in polo shirts is going to turn them into mind-controlled zombies. Ha! It seems that you have even less confidence in your children's abilities than you're accusing the pro-dress code side of having in theirs: you think that if your kids have to follow a dress code, they'll somehow lose the ability to differentiate themselves from the herd.

I hate this superior-parenting crap when my girlfriends do it over coffee. I didn't expect to see it in comments on Althouse.

Jim said...

How I'd love to be a kid again to tweak the school administration. This ban will lead to a lot of creativity, like mixing sex with a political message or a sentiment about the Bush or TWAT that he is waging.

I have the same fun here in Austin, TX, where they are trying to censor our books, magazines and internet at the local Senior Activities Center.

First they censored a Playboy I put in the informal magazine library. So I put Laura Schlessinger's wide-open beaver shots on the two terminals for default browser pages. Then they installed filters. I then fought back with Peacefire.org circumventors, which worked well. Then they removed the filters and put up an adhesion contract that anyone using the terminals agreed not to download "sexually explicit material" or he would lose his privileges. I am preparing a lawsuit contesting censorship of legal adult material in an adult facility. We'll see. What distinguishes me from a "terrorist" is that I do feel you should exploit all peaceful means of resolving the problem before blowing the place up.

Derve said...

What's wrong with freeing my kids from having to care about what they're wearing to school? How is that a bad thing?

I don't care what your kids wear to school.

If my kid doesn't want to wear "a red, white, or blue" shirt to school on a particular day, and wants to wear a long-sleeved t-shirt from the college he just visited that weekend, why is it your business?

If my kids' clothing isn't offensive, keep your nose out of it. You start with the clothes, you never stop there.

(Libertarianism is a political philosophy advocating that individuals should be free to do whatever they wish with their person or property, as long as they do not infringe on the same liberty of others. )

I'd bet anything you're going to have trouble with those kids down the line, Joan. Early pregnancy, alcohol abuse, or some other way of establishing themselves separate from you. Let them grow up for God's sake. And leave my kids out of your new "doesn't this look nice?" fashion plans...

Like it or not, this is why kids choose alternative schools, and their attendance is soaring. And we're all paying for it -- just because you can't be a real parent and set down household rules that only affect your own.

Dave said...

The boarding school I went to had a dress code.

Shirts and slacks for the guys, same for the women, except they could wear skirts, though most didn't because it was in Maine and Maine is cold.

I'm sure every student who was graduated from the school, upon going to college, dressed as slovenly as every other kid on campus. Say what you want about high school dress codes--I think they are largely harmless--but the idea that they instill in students an affinity for "proper" dress is woefully naive.

Derve said...

How is it any different from the majority of adults who have to dress in a particular way for their workplace versus how they dress at home? It isn't.

Attendance at your particular workplace isn't mandatory. Public schooling is, hence the rise of "alternative" schools that we're all paying for, folks.

Next thing, you'll be telling me how I shoud feed my kids, what they can read and listen to, who they can associate with, etc etc. Just so your little ones can be sure that the decisions you've made for them is right for everyone.

I blame the huge "warehouse" schools for getting everyone into that herd mentality in the first place. Thank God we can choose to opt out, and live in an area where people have better things to do then stick their noses into other people's business, when there's no problem to be addressed at all.

Dave said...

It occurs to me that there's some interesting commentary on this issue to be found in the new season of The Wire, on HBO.

In brief: an inner city middle school's students are required to wear tan slacks and a colored shirt, with each grade getting a certain color shirt. There is, of course, attempts at subterfuge by the students. One of the implicit messages in this dramatic device is that, in a culture in which wearing the wrong clothes on the wrong street corner can literally get you killed (gang colors, etc.), conformity of dress has its benefits.

Derve said...

Damn... a root canal, TMJ, and a lump? No wonder you've got control issues, lady.

Derve said...

"conformity of dress has its benefits."

Yeah Dave, but nobody's brought up gang colors yet in defending their dress codes. It's all middle class convenience so far.

Joan said...

You start with the clothes, you never stop there.

Criminy, Derve -- have we touched a nerve or what? Can you give one single example of a public school with a dress code that then went on to implement even more draconian strictures on the students?

You missed the point that I'm not the one imposing the dress code, it's the school. In some cases, it's the school district. I'm just a parent who happens to think that school dress codes are a good policy.

Public school attendance isn't mandatory, anyway: you can always home school if you're so worried about your children being swept away by the herd. Or by the parents of the children of the herd. Or whatever it is that you're paranoid about.

There are schools around here with dress codes, and ones without dress codes. I'm lucky in that I was able to choose a school that offers an excellent curriculum; it just happens to have a dress code. It doesn't bother me.

It's beyond weird that you're predicting I'm going to have problems with my kids because I like their school's dress code. It's not as if I make them wear those clothes when they're not in school, you know? I want to know how you can infer so much about my family dynamic from my support of school dress codes. I've yet to see any research blaming dress codes for the kind of behavior problems you're expecting to descend on me. I have seen research that says families that eat dinner together, and pray together, things we do every day, are much less likely to experience these problems.

I get that you don't like dress codes. I don't understand your hysterical reaction to them, though. And I don't appreciate your continued insistence that I'm lazy parent who is going to end up with f'ed-up, rebellious teens. And this?

Damn... a root canal, TMJ, and a lump?

You forgot the thyroid cancer. But thanks for playing!

Seven Machos said...

These kids today. What's the matter with them? Why can't they be like we were?

Joan of Arc said...

Derve, my daughter wants to express herself at school by wearing a bathing suit. Should I allow her to do that?

There is a line, I just want to know where it is.

Harry Eagar said...

Well, I once got paid to write a story on exactly this topic. Of course, I was not a high-profile WaPo reporter but a beat pounder at a small provincial sheet.

And the racy language was a shirt that read BITCH BITCH BITCH.

No reason to mention this except that it happened in 1974.

Derve said...

No joan. You should not let your daughter go to school in a bathing suit. Though we have no dress code at our school and no one has thought to pass a rule against it, there are common sense reasons parents don't allow kids out like that.

Btw, you might want to consider attending some of the evening parenting classes we've organized for folks with questions like yours who need practical advice.

We'd be glad to have you, and think this is a much better way of addressing such issues than legally trying to write such a code that would avoid such problems.

Let me introduce your daughter to my kids if she needs a role model or guidance on what's appropriate for school -- mine like to wear purples and greens, and other non-offensive colors, but they stay plenty warm, and they're good kids getting decent grades at school. They don't feel the need to "rebel" like some poor kids these days who can't seem to step a bit out of line in expressing themselves without getting hollered at by a control-freak parent. You know the type.

Anyway, we meet every Wednesday at 7pm in the library, and again, we'd be glad to have you. Dress is casual; we're here to discuss parenting issues and learn, and nobody is going to be judging you on what you wear. So please do come -- that "line-drawing" part of parenting really isn't as tough as some might have you think. Oh, and your kids are welcome too. It's good for them to see that there are still plenty of common-sense parents out here who don't think that personal freedoms are something for adults only. (And not to brag but, kids tend to like me. I'd be glad to talk with yours if you like about any school-related issue that might be troubling her. Parents working together for the best of all our kids -- that's what our Wed. night learning group is all about.)

Derve said...

But thanks for playing!

You first wondered about my motivations -- hypothesizing military school background with no contact w/Mum and Dad.

I read your blog and merely wondered back...

buck turgidson said...

Ban all shirts with any message

AH! The mark of a true constitutional scholar!

Abraham said...

Why can't they be like we were?

Perfect in every way?

AH! The mark of a true constitutional scholar!

If you think there is a constitutional argument, then why don't you make it, instead of arguing by sarcasm.

Ann Althouse said...

I should admit that when I was in junior high school, I was the main student who made a point of violating the dress code and got in trouble for it. (Skirt length was the big issue.)

Ann Althouse said...

Buck: It's called content neutral regulation. Look it up.

Joan said...

So much willful point-missing, such a (relatively) brief comment thread.

Derve: I made the crack about military school after you made the crack about my lack of popularity. Mine was open speculation and stated as such. Yours was an insulting assumption, and you continue to make personal comments without justification. The fact that you read my blog and saw fit to bring my health issues into this discussion shows how low you'll go to try and make a point.

Gotta go work at my kids mind-controlled school for a few hours. I'll catch up with you later.

Balfegor said...

These kids today. What's the matter with them? Why can't they be like we were?

We weren't beaten enough when we were small:

Speak roughly to your little boy
And beat him when he sneezes
He only does it to annoy
Because he knows it teases!


. . . this is true more of teenagers than of little boys, though.

And now my confession of teenage rebellion -- I went about with my shirt untucked when I was a high schooler. And I wore open-toed shoes. With socks!! And I wore my hair shaggy -- Beethoven style. What a rebel I was. I even wore short pants.

The real rebel, of course, was the Nigerian chap who went to school in a suit. That's genuine independence for you.

Palladian said...

Oh yeah, well I wore Birkenstocks with socks in the winter. And I wore a poncho. A real poncho, not a Sears poncho.

Balfegor said...

And I wore a poncho. A real poncho, not a Sears poncho.

I had an ironic response all ready to escalate here, but actually, I'll set that aside, and say how much I love ponchos.

I have/had a poncho myself (it is in storage now) -- well-loved over many, many years of use. When you are a college student and a fire alarm goes off in the middle of a winter's night, a good, big, wool poncho is a thing to be glad off. Works as a coverlet too.

JDM said...

I went to a high school where the lowest grade's uniform (Grade 8) was shorts and long socks, while Grades 9-12 got to wear long pants.

Shirt and tie in summer, coat and tie in winter (except in Grade 8, where you got to wear a jumper in winter).

I had a dislike for shorts that lasted 5-6 years after I finished high school.

Having said all that, I dont have a problem with uniforms.

downtownlad said...

Everyone on this thread are a bunch of dweebs.

Anyone with a limited fashion sense should have at least one T-shirt with some sexual innuendo on it. I didn't even realize they were offensive to some people. They are supposed to be FUNNY.

Graphic T-shirts are one of the key fashion icons of this decade for those who are clueless about style.

downtownlad said...

Here's one:

http://www.fossil.com/jump.jsp?itemType=PRODUCT&itemID=36278

Palladian said...

Ah, yes, what would this thread be without the patented, late-in-the-game beating with the downtownlad charm stick. I'm surprised you didn't figure out a way to insult parents as "breeders". We expect better (worse) from you.

"Graphic T-shirts are one of the key fashion icons of this decade for those who are clueless about style."

That's true, to those that are clueless about style, graphic t-shirts would be considered one of the key fashion icons of this decade. Or of 1978. Or something.

It's not that they're offensive, it's that they're juvenile (which is why such things are attractive to 13 year olds, hence the need for this discussion). I know it's hard for a perpetual Peter Pan such as yourself to comprehend, but some of us like being grown-ups sometimes.

altoids1306 said...

downtownlad:http://www.fossil.com/jump.jsp?itemType=PRODUCT&itemID=36278

T-shirt for 20 USD? You must be kidding me. That's an economic argument for dress codes right there.

I had uniforms in middle and high school. No big deal. If you need to buy 20 dollar cotton T's to express yourself, you need to find a better way to express yourself.

Personally, I say let the kids do what they want. The public schools are shot to hell anyways.

Revenant said...

Anyone with a limited fashion sense should have at least one T-shirt with some sexual innuendo on it.

Does that mean people whose fashion sense is NOT limited don't have to own one? :)

Seriously, though, I'm in my thirties. A guy in his thirties with a "Dr. Zog's Sex Wax" t-shirt is never, ever going to get laid.

downtownlad said...

I see that Palladian is still infatuated with me.

And no - T-shirts were not fashionable in the 1970's.

$20 is cheap for a T-shirt. The good ones cost at least $70. And no - children can't afford the good ones. It's the wealthy adults who are wearing them.

http://revolveclothing.com/productpages/EDHA-MS105.jsp

downtownlad said...

Of course you have to be in shape to wear a proper fitted T-shirt, so it would be unusual for those who aren't fit to know anything about them.

downtownlad said...

Of course you can't wear your $100 T-shirt unless you have $300 jeans to pair them with.

http://revolveclothing.com/productpages/ANTI-MJ18.jsp

downtownlad said...

Of course New York was way ahead of the curve on this whole fashion movement, as anyone who has been to Williamsburg could have told you.

Here's a story from 2003 about T-shirts that had the word "fuck" in them and sole for $80 back then.

http://dir.salon.com/story/mwt/feature/2003/07/01/courtney/index.html

downtownlad said...

But getting back to the subject at hand, the answer is not to ban t-shirts.

The answer is to ban public schools.

Palladian said...

"I see that Palladian is still infatuated with me."

Don't flatter yourself, Mary. You love to appear in comments threads, show your butt, and see who bites. I can't resist, because I like being mean to you, though I do regret stroking your flacid little ego.

T-shirts are for home wear or for under actual clothes. Adults should really avoid them, since they generally make adults look slovenly and underdressed. I know they are popular with the perpetual adolescents of the urban gym-going gay male "community". If you want to go through life looking like you just stumbled out of "Splash", I suppose that's a matter of personal choice.

downtownlad said...

You really are clueless Palladian. I'm not being insulting, but when it comes to fashion - you are just making a mockery of yourself.

Just go to any trendy restaurant in the city and you will see guys (mostly straight) wearing expensive jeans and expensive T-shirts.

Don't be bitter just because you can't pull this fashion thing off.

downtownlad said...

And here's a guy rocking an awesome T-shirt in the latest issue of Vogue.

http://men.style.com/fashion/style_notes/021706

And no - this won't be fashionable forever. But it's foolish to say that it's not in fashion now.

downtownlad said...

And I got very annoyed when people say that only adolescents can be trendy.

Give me a break.

Teenagers can't afford trendy clothes. Most of them are absolutely clueless when it comes to fashion and style.

It's adults, who have actual jobs and earn real money, who can actually afford to be fashionable.

Unless the style happens to be something like grunge - when anyone who shops at Wal-mart can then be trendy. But I'm sure Palladian was screaming in 1991 that flannel wasn't trendy and that only lumberjacks should have worn it.

downtownlad said...

Time for bed - the one time I REFUSE to wear an undershirt.

Palladian said...

You're the clueless one, dear. Why should one follow fashion? For a self-professed libertarian, you seem awfully enamoured of a collectivist thing like being "fashionable". Go on, lad, be a rebel! Wear something nice for a change! As for some guy "rocking" an "awesome" t-shirt (nice, adolescent language from an adolescent mind), those guys all look like street-level drug dealers, or more correctly, parasitic borgeoise in street pusher drag. It speaks of laziness, nihilism, childishness, bad habits and shallowness. You want some guys "rocking" some "awesome" clothes? I just came across these gents while doing some research today. Give me impractical top hats and a walking stick over an ironic t-shirt and a knit cap any day. This is fashion, t-shirts are underwear.

Johnny Nucleo said...

"But I keep looking and looking, and I just don't see where I can check that box on my tax return."

Derve, I can't believe you pay taxes. I thought you were a kid! I thought you were some kind of smart overachiever kid fighting for kid's rights. I was going to say, "Right on, kid! Fight the power!"

But you pay taxes so that means you are an adult, so I have to say, your theories of educating and managing kids - basically short, dumb humans who tend to behave like maniacs - are so hippy-dippy that I think you must be pulling our leg.

Jason said...

Teenagers can't afford trendy clothes. Most of them are absolutely clueless when it comes to fashion and style.

Like adults are? Good God, what passes for "fashion" is usually too stupid for teenagers.

The astonishing thing about this discussion is that we were all teenagers once. We all had different personalities, but I'm equally sure we all, to some extent, at least wanted to look "trendy" in the teenage, high school context--or at the very least not look like complete idiots. (And surely I'm not the only one who had a mother cluelessly purchase multi-color bell-bottom pants.)

However irrational the teenage experience can be, I for one remember just how much it hurt to be the one singled out for making a fashion faux pas. Then again, maybe this board is otherwise made up of all the cool people.

Jason said...

One more thing; Jeans and T-Shirts are eternally fashionable.

No matter what Elle or GQ peddles as the "in thing" the cycle always comes back to Jeans and T-Shirts.

Joan said...

Johnny Nucleo, to Derve: But you pay taxes so that means you are an adult, so I have to say, your theories of educating and managing kids - basically short, dumb humans who tend to behave like maniacs - are so hippy-dippy that I think you must be pulling our leg.

If you read upthread, Derve professes to be the parent of more than one teenager. He even mentioned that one of his kids is "behind a grade," as if that had any relevance to this conversation. (Way to knock down the kid, Derve! Since when do you care about arbitrary grade assignments, anyway?)

Apparently, he's serious about all this -- why else stoop to making personal attacks? Yet he holds himself out as a paragon of parenting virtue. Hopefully he's of the "do as I say, not as I do" school.

Revenant said...

Holy cats! 12 new posts and 9 of them are from downtownlad? Has he finally cut out the middle man and started arguing with himself?

And here's a guy rocking an awesome T-shirt in the latest issue of Vogue.

That's right, ladies and gentlemen -- for only $300, you too could look like you still shop at thift stores. For only $50 more, you can get the "rocking" version that smells like a genuine homeless person! ($75 extra for 'phat').

Abraham said...

Palladian: Thank you for standing up for truly elegant fashion. I can't abide "fasions" that are "ugly." One of my favorite nonfiction books: Dressing the Man by Alan Flusser.

tcd said...

I bet DTL has an expensive, trendy t-shirt that says "30 is the new 20". Any takers?

Danelle said...

I go to a school where a uniform is the policy. I am in grade 11 and I LOVE it! I wake up in the morning, throw on one of my three choices for shirts, as well as my Kilt and sometimes knee socks. There is no rivalry between classmates as to who has the nicer clothes. I think that uniforms make for a more "unified" school - excuse the unintended pun:)