Cleavage in a Tank Top: Bodily Prohibition and the Discourses of School Dress Codes


  • Shauna Pomerantz



In this article I explore the gendered assumptions in the new generation of dress codes that have swept through North American schools in response to how girls are dressing these days. Through a feminist poststructural examination of a particular case in Langley, British Columbia, I locate three contradictory discourses in one school’s dress code policy that positioned girls as irresponsible, deviant, and in need of help. I argue that these discourses reproduce dominant and oppressive forms of gender and sexuality. I conclude by suggesting that much work remains to be done on the minutiae of school policies such as dress codes given that they contribute to how the student(’s) body is thought about, looked at, and treated.