Once the snow has melted, and mud dries up enough so wearing flip flops is possible, the season of dress code violations begins. Whether your school dress code policy is ultra conservative or lassiez faire, every spring, there will be one or two students, usually female, who will challenge the dress code with an alarmingly inappropriate outfit.
Part of the problem is that middle and high school females come in all shapes and sizes. A T-tank may be perfectly acceptable on one boyish girl's figure, but eye-popping on a more buxom girl. A short skirt that looks sporty on one girl can look like taut athletic bandage wrap on another. Showing a little skin, say a an upper arm or a long leg may look healthy on one student while baring a large middle abdominal area or the top of the derriere provides more information than necessary.
I have often wondered how any student could think that the off the shoulder or midriff display is acceptable in school. Lately, I have been assigning the blame to Disney. Specifically, I blame the Disney princesses.
Consider how the Disney princesses of older generations were fully clothed. These princesses were:
These old-fashioned Disney princesses twirled with full skirted gowns, short or full sleeves, and accessorized their looks with gloves, capes, and the occasional scarf for cleaning. There was an open neckline, but no décolletage. Princess Aurora (Sleeping Beauty) had a slight "over the shoulder" design that was covered by a large white collar in the pink/blue/pink/blue ballgown. The only character to reveal much flesh was Peter Pan's Tinkerbell (1953) in a strapless gymnastic tight of sparkling citrus green. In subsequent generations, and without the benefit of a singing voice, Tinkerbell has been upgraded from fairy to princess. Her more melodious princess cousins were more modest dressers.
The next round of Disney princesses began in 1989. These princesses looked and acted very differently beginning with:
Recall the fashion influences of each of these princesses on students for the past 24 years:
The fashions of these Disney princesses (1989-2009) were generally less modest than the fashions of previous generations. Their costumes had plunging necklines, bared midriffs, and high skirts. Their outfits, however, could also indicate the kinds of princesses they were, not castle-bound beauties, but more hands-on active counterparts to their princes.
For a quarter of a century, girls have grown up with the images of Ariel, Belle, Jasmine, Megera, Esmerelda, Pocohantas, and Tiana. They have dreamed of swimming "Under the Sea" or running with the "Colors of the Wind" or dancing with teapots to "Be Our Guest".
So what would be the outfit of choice for school boards trying to design policy for female students who have imitated the fashions of their beloved princesses since childhood? What princess outfit could pass muster?
There could be a vote for the clothing of Mulan (1998) a warrior princess who was forced to remain clothed top to bottom in order to hide her gender during warrior training and battle. Even when she returned to her role as a dutiful daughter, she was completely covered in a beautiful kimono. This choice, however, may be too much of a cultural stretch.
Finally, there could be a vote for the Princess Rapunzel from Tangled (2010) whose hair was the fashion statement. Part costume and part weapon, Rapunzel's hair kept the audience from noticing any exposed body parts, however hair like hers could make movement through the crowded school hallways difficult.
Oh, Disney, if only you knew the consternation caused by your princess fashion designs. Maybe school boards could send your animators their dress codes so future princesses would dress accordingly. Better yet, Disney, you could stick to animating animals. We don't mind seeing Dory (Finding Nemo) or Nala (The Lion King) naked; in fact, we like them better that way.