Written by Abbey Morelli, Opinions Editor
In one of my classes this semester titled Philosophy of Sex and Love, we were discussing how clothing choices, whether revealing or more conservative, can impact how you feel about yourself. The discussion was in reference to objectification (for the most part discussing the objectification of women). Students offered their own experiences regarding clothing in high school, dress codes, being cat called and why people choose to wear certain types of clothing— whether their choices were for themselves or for someone else.
While I was sitting in class I began to think back to my own high school experience and realized I could not quite relate to feeling objectified in my clothing and feeling the need to impress someone. Throughout those years, I attended an all-girls school in Massachusetts. There were forty girls in my graduating class and we got to know each other extremely well over the years, to say the least. Personally, I chose to attend an all-girls school, although there were some girls who did not have a say in the matter. Their parents sent them to the school to help their daughters focus more on school and have less distractions. While I did not quite realize it at the time, an all-girls school had significant advantages that stuck with me when I came to college.
First of all, in reference to my class discussion, I did not have the opportunity to even choose my own clothing. We wore plaid, pleated, wool skirts with knee high socks, polo shirts and one of the approved school sweaters. While there was certainly a lack of self expression in our outfits, we also were not aiming to impress one another based on our appearance.
I did not wear makeup to class and the messy bun was the signature hair style we all gravitated toward. Getting dressed in the morning was simply part of the routine; there was no wasted time deciding what outfit would gain the most attention. On dress down days, like other schools, we were not allowed to wear leggings, short shorts, or thin tank tops. At the same time, most of the girls did not seem to mind and came to school in sweatpants; the focus for most of us was comfort and whatever sports practice or game we had later on in the day. Dressing appropriately was more of a matter of professionalism and respect as opposed to oppression and objectification.
The overall high school experience was never lacking. We still had pep rallies, junior/senior prom, dances with the all-boys school nearby, sports games and class officer elections. Girls that were in relationships were able to balance school and work, as well as keep their personal lives outside of the classroom. We could make our education about ourselves, our goals and our future and had no worries about anything stepping in our paths. Coming to college we had a set of priorities and goals that helped us stay on track and make a degree the main focus.
All-girls schools have the potential to raise girls’ confidence level. We were encouraged to speak up in class and did not feel pressure to remain silent as we might have if there were boys in the room. Our school’s goal was to mold well rounded women who would be confident in whatever they wanted to do. There was a focus on empowering women, especially pushing them to thrive in the sciences.
Same sex high school shifted the focus to education, leadership, sports, and friendships as opposed to relationships and hookups. We were student council and class officer leaders, we were team captains, teammates, glee club members, newspaper editors and critical thinkers. While we may have been more sheltered during those years, the lessons from an all-girls school stuck with my graduating class and have affected my approach to college in a positive and rewarding way.