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“Could You Actually Wear This As A Teacher?”: This Trend Sparked The Great Clothing Debate

Do you care what your teachers wear?

Teacher fashion TikTok
Image: TikTok/@idontknowhowtodothisapp

You’ve likely seen this trend and this teacher creator if you’re on #fashiontiktok.

Middle school teacher Allyson Shay started a series called “Could You Actually Wear This As A Teacher?” on September 3rd. Two weeks later, her reactions to tiktokers’ outfit ideas exploded, and her page sits at over 36 million likes.

These cute teacher outfits and Allyson’s commentaries gave users a place to discuss what teachers can actually wear in their area. Surprisingly, the conversation was split in half.

@idontknowhowtodothisapp

Replying to @l0calcrypt1d the comments are so fun to read lol

♬ original sound – Allyson Shay

Half of the comments say Allyson’s thoughts are too strict and the other half say they are lenient. On average, a teacher’s wardrobe follow a business casual look, but the ‘casual’ part has a different meaning for all. While some districts like Allyson’s permit teachers to wear jeans, others note that their schools have firmer guidelines not allowing jeans. Or in another video where she says hats are a no-go, @darbythedaisy writes “We are actually allowed to wear hats as teachers at my school! (The HS I work at doesn’t have a dress code).”

Image: Tiktok

With that, this fun fashion trend turned into a question: Why do some teachers have no clothing regulations and others do? Should teachers even have a dress code?

Problems With Strict vs. Lenient Dress Code

While dress code varies depending on the area, overall, teachers are expected to appear professional. The dress regulations in place establish a teacher’s role in the classroom and critical boundaries between them and the students. It’s only understandable that schools want their teachers to present themselves a certain way for the credibility of the staff.

Only, do some dress codes take it too far? With so many other things, many feel it’s almost pesky for schools to worry so much about teachers’ wardrobes. Even the student dress code is up for conversation, so teachers as adults meant to guide those students feel their clothing shouldn’t dictate their professionalism or job performance.

In fact, another TikTok user, @meimonstaa, went viral earlier this year sharing her school’s absurd dress code.

@meimonstaa

How I got kicked out of school: 😅

♬ original sound – Anonymous_vms

Mei is a student teacher and eventually got kicked out of her program for repeated dress code violations. Here are some of the outfits she wore that the school flagged.

Image: TikTok/@meimonstaa

Fortunately, Mei has resolved all issues with her student teaching position. But this case, among many others, proves that dress code can be problematic. While there’s nothing inherently inappropriate about Mei’s outfits, she still faced consequences and embarrassment dealing with the school’s intense dress code restrictions. She’s fully covered with little skin showing, not wearing jeans, and not violating other potential dress code rules. So, what’s the problem? Was her teaching ability really hindered that much by her ‘inappropriate’ outfits?

Those opposed to school dress codes also argue that they promote distraction and opportunity for girls especially to be targeted. Like above, Mei was reprimanded for her outfits as a student teacher, leading her focus to shift from teaching to worrying about her appearance. And with women normally having stricter dress code rules than men, they are automatically subjected to harsher inspection and the problems faced with worrying too much about nitty wardrobe regulations.

But on the other side of the argument, some teachers with less harsh or no dress code at all note that sometimes leniency does affect classroom operations. Simply put, many teachers explain that there’s a time and place for certain attire, such as sweatpants or oversized graphic t-shirts. “I realized that the more relaxed my attire was, the more laidback I became” quotes a teacher from Edupstairs.org. All in all, it seems that either extreme of this clothing debate poses problems in the classroom. What’s the solution? Well, there should be a middle ground for outfit expectations but also a realistic understanding that clothing doesn’t dictate a teacher’s credibility or actual teaching ability.

What About a Teacher With Body Modifications?

Image: DGLimages/Shutterstock

Tattoos in the workplace are another huge debate, and teachers have a long history of strict guidelines with body mods. Like many fields lately, more and more people in education are rocking their ink and metal with pride. Even Allyson has a nostril piercing and tattoos as a middle school drama teacher.

Image: TikTok

Schools, of course, still have the right to decide whether they employ individuals with tattoos or piercings. It’s also in their full right to ask a teacher to cover up their ink if they have it. Like all else, it depends a lot on your area and the culture. Some districts continue to follow the same, old-fashioned dress code and avoid those with body modifications. More progressive areas, however, don’t bat an eye about piercings and tattoos. As long as it’s not age-inappropriate or terribly offensive, schools understand that body modifications don’t inhibit a teacher’s ability.

Much like dress code, these regulations are seen as very limiting to a teacher’s creativity and self-expression as an individual. Even coming down to deciding on hair color, some teachers feel trapped in their career’s rules on appearance, and now’s the time, if ever, that teachers should be cut some slack.

Yes, there will always be some kind of restrictions on clothing and permanent additions to your body as an educator, but for everything not crossing the line, I wonder: Do these parts of a teacher’s appearance really matter?

Written By

Hi! Thanks for reading my little words and getting to know me! I'm an English major at Florida Atlantic University, an aspiring teacher, and the writer behind a million unfinished novel drafts. If not writing or studying, I'm probably playing Catan or Stardew Valley. Stay tuned; many new projects coming soon!

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