Wearing thin on dress code regulations

By Stephanie Youssef

In recent news, three students in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, were tragically killed, the ISIS terrorist group advanced near a marine base in Iraq, and a senator in Montana tried to ban yoga pants.

That’s right. While citizens are exposed to true issues in our society that require concern, Sen. David Moore put his efforts and taxpayer dollars to focus on a fight against certain articles of clothing.

Which brings up the all-important question: Why does he care?

A belief accredited mostly to libertarians that I try to advocate for is the belief that if the way you live your life does not directly interfere with the way I live mine, then continue living it. This principle applies to policies, attitudes and certain lifestyle choices, including the choice to wear yoga pants.

Beyond the constitutional amendments that protect our rights to freedom of speech and freedom of expression, I think that, from a social perspective, people should avoid being critical of how other people dress in the first place.

Currently, there are no explicit regulations on clothing and apparel in the University of Illinois Student Code.

But even in discussing this idea with other students, I found it surprising that people advocate for dress codes to regulate what students wear to class to add onto the already existing state laws for indecent exposure.

In fact, a blog started in 2010 has a mission to try and enforce the doctrine that leggings aren’t pants by shaming pictures of University students wearing tight clothing. Despite the fact that the blog hasn’t been updated recently, the attitude that permeates the site is still one that exists on campus today.

In addition to laughing at the Montana senator’s heinous idiocy, I was thankful that this wasn’t a big controversy taking place at the University. But with the existence of the no pants blog, and the attitudes that some students have expressed to me personally, the possibility of a dress code being drafted and enforced here isn’t far-fetched.

In fact, in 2014, a number of schools in Illinois, mostly high schools, succeeded in enforcing bans on leggings as part of their dress codes.

The Bill of Rights exists mainly to protect our liberties from infringement by governments and intrusive institutions. Thankfully, the Montana senator’s ridiculous bill was quickly shot down due to the fact that it was a clear and excessive violation of the First Amendment rights of Montana’s residents.

I don’t think that people should care in the first place about how others choose to dress because attempted infringements on our liberties stem from social attitudes and conventions people carry. For instance, the social idea that leggings and yoga pants have “suggestive” implications led to the Montana senator and Illinois schools trying to enforce rules banning them. If more people avoided attitudes in judging other’s protected rights to self-expression, the ridiculous attempts at violating the constitutional rights of students and citizens wouldn’t originate in the first place.

Some may argue that just banning yoga pants isn’t that big of a deal, but it is. When one aspect of our rights are violated, there is nothing to stop institutions from taking those violations further. Not everyone thinks that yoga pants are suggestive. There are popular ideas that beards, heels and long hair are attractive. If people are negatively judged for certain forms of self-expression and start by banning yoga pants, what’s to say that other forms of expression won’t be?

I enjoy the right of being able to put on a pair of leggings and a shirt and go to class. To those who run the blog — I never said leggings were pants, I just choose to wear them as such. In the words of Kim Kardashian “I was feeling my look! Can I live?!?!”

Stephanie is a junior in LAS. She can be reached at [email protected]