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Gender specific dress codes

  1. Foodnerd81

    wonderful cherry / 21504 posts

    I make my 4 yo wear shorts under her dresses. I'm just teaching her it's not appropriate to show people your underwear and she still likes to lift her dress up to show her belly or rolls on the floor with her legs in the air. I would much rather say you must wear shorts and then can play however you want, than limit how she can play. My neighbor 5 yo boys get the same "we don't show people our underwear" talk from their parents (when they pull their shorts down in response to my kid picking her skirt up 😳)

    So I don't care for the modesty wording but the policy is ok with me.

  2. skipra

    pomegranate / 3350 posts

    I imagine that if there were boys wearing skirts or kilts or whatever the same rules would apply. I just take it as they don't want to deal with any repercussions of kids being able to see their classmate's underwear.

  3. lady baltimore

    persimmon / 1196 posts

    I think I would balk at this notice, too, ultimately determining that I didn't have a big problem with the policy, but with the presentation. Making it all about privacy and modesty would make me feel like next week I'd be getting a letter about DD's nipples showing when she plays in a loose tank. I think 3/4 is a reasonable age to be teaching children both about behavior that is appropriate to the setting (don't intentionally expose your underwear outside the home) and about reacting appropriately (if a peer accidentally exposes his or her underwear, one needn't make a big deal about it).

  4. PinkElephant

    grapefruit / 4584 posts

    I'll start by saying that I'm the mom of three little girls - two of whom (3 and 5 years) are in underwear, and prefer to wear almost exclusively dresses. It's my rule with them that they wear something under the dress, over their underwear (a tutu crinoline does not cut it, much to the chagrin of the three year old in particular) when we're outside our house/yard, and honestly I'd really prefer they wear them at home, too, if just for consistency in the rule and the "safety" aspect in my points below (less chance of scraping or burning their thighs when they're playing all crazy).

    As for the notice at school...we've never expressly been given a rule like that at school. At the gym childcare, the rule is that everyone, regardless of age or sex, needs to have underwear, diapers, or underwear-like swimsuit bottoms (so speedos included if you're a boy) covered by shorts/pants. I guess it wouldn't bother me too much, because assuming everyone in your daughter's immediate class wears underwear (not diapers), the sender of the message is really just assuming that the only ones who wouldn't automatically be wearing shorts are girls, right? But I do see why you would be kind of icked out by the wording of the message.

    For those wondering why in the world I care if my girls wear shorts under dresses....for me personally, I have considered all the below when telling my daughters I want them to wear shorts under dresses:

    - helps them avoid burning/scraping their thighs on playground equipment
    - prevents them from any germ spreading (and unbecoming) scratching/picking at directly private parts that all little kids sometimes do
    - sets the stage for the sort of "dress codes" DH and I will enforce when they're older (no super short shorts or bare midriffs when you're out in public)
    - prevents people from seeing their undies
    - avoids silliness about underwear - when kids go through that "Potty talk" stage and realize they'll get a reaction like a laugh for flashing their undies

    Also in childcare situations, I think ensuring that everyone's private parts are fairly well covered because that helps avoid risks of inappropriate touching, accidental or intentional, between children or between a caregiver and a child. Not that the parents are worried about it, more that I guess sometimes workers could fear being wrongly accused? I don't know...

    @Foodnerd81: You said how I feel very well, and much more succinctly.

    @lady baltimore: you also raise a really good point about teaching appropriate reactions. Underwear is private, yes, but it's also NBD. Kind of like the whole "everybody poops" thing

  5. Miss Ariel

    nectarine / 2210 posts

    Our daycare has a similar policy but never said why it's there. I always assumed it was partly for when girls where diapers to make sure they couldn't take them off or to help cleanup any accidents.

  6. Miss Ariel

    nectarine / 2210 posts

    I will also add I remember being in elementary school and a friend wouldn't hang upside down up the bars with us since she wasn't wearing shorts under a dress. I basically told her, "who cares, it's just underwear" and lifted up my skirt to prove a point. Of course I got in trouble and had to talk to a teacher about it, but can't remember if I was able to articulate my reasons why I did it or what his response was.

  7. Anagram

    eggplant / 11716 posts

    Huh. In pretty into dress codes for comfort once kids are older (meaning I don't think half shirts or tiny tight shorts or tiny skirts are comfortable for learning at school), but I wouldn't think twice about my girls wearing a skirt without shorts under. We usually DO wear bike shirts under so their skin doesn't stick on slides at the playground, but if they didn't want to, I wouldn't care.

    Also, if we happen upon a water sprinkler, sometimes I let them go in Just their undies (gasp!) in public and they are jumping and running and having physical fun and it's totally fine. I think any "creeper" will equally like children in swim wear and I'm not going to obsess over that stuff.

    We were in battery park two days ago and were hot and I hadn't brought along any swimsuits. My awesome solution was to let the girls play in the water with only their bike shorts on, then we continue doing our day with only dresses afterward. And my kids weren't the only ones in only undies.

    And my oldest had mixed gender bathrooms last year in pre-k, it didn't seem to phase her. They have stalls.

  8. 2littlepumpkins

    grapefruit / 4455 posts

    @Foodnerd81: Agreed! You said exactly what I was going to say but probably better.

  9. Anagram

    eggplant / 11716 posts

    Isn't it odd though that probably historically underwear was invented for all these things that now we're telling girls they need bike shorts for?

    Like, panties keep things hygienic. And keep things covered. And keep things "modest", if you're into that. So why do we now needs shorts AND panties? What if someone is wearing boy short undies? Is there a difference?

    Actually the more I think about it,the more I agree with OP. Like I personally wear bras to keep my boobs from jiggling, for comfort (I am anti boob sweat, so I like em high and dry), and to cover my nipples since nipples are still kind of taboo for women. But if my bra strap shows while I'm walking around town in summer, idgaf. I'm wearing a bra to cover nipples not my shoulders so I don't care if the straps are out or not. Same thing to me.

  10. Foodnerd81

    wonderful cherry / 21504 posts

    @Anagram: to play devils advocate, would you be ok with your daughters wearing, say, low rose pants and having an inch or more of underwear showing at the top? How would you respond if a teen job applicant showed up with their underwear showing?
    I'm really not disagreeing with your points overall and I don't care when I see other girls without shorts under a dress. But most of the time those girls aren't flipping around the way my kid does either.

  11. PinkElephant

    grapefruit / 4584 posts

    @Anagram: totally with you on the bras - don't care if a strap pops out in a casual setting. I also can specifically recall my mom saying something to me along the lines of "GOOD, at least people will know you're wearing them" when I was like 14 and stressing about VPL before thongs were really a thing, haha..

  12. Anagram

    eggplant / 11716 posts

    @Foodnerd81: I think teens are vastly different from 3.5 year olds. Teens actually are biologically sexual. But 3.5 year olds aren't.

    That's why I think it's nbd even in american society for little girls to be "topless" at a beach but it's odd for teen or adult women with breasts to be topless (again in American culture where we are pretty prudish).

    And FYI---I have to see my middle school students underwear, thongs, stomachs, and breasts daily since in warm weather they basically wear beachwear. Like those totally backless yoga shirts with just neon bra tops under. And shorts that don't even really cover their butt cheeks.

  13. Foodnerd81

    wonderful cherry / 21504 posts

    @Anagram: I definitely agree with you on the difference between little kids and teens. So, I guess for me I'm trying to teach her how she will need to behave down the line, the same way I teach her manners. It seems easier to make it a rule now than to change the rules in a few years, if that makes sense. But again- that's just for my kid.

    Also I don't understand teen fashion. At all.

  14. PinkElephant

    grapefruit / 4584 posts

    Following on to what I said above, I guess that I know as an adult what people might "think" when they see a bra strap or a panty line or whatever (whether it's right or wrong that they think that way) - and can decide for myself that I don't care.

    My daughters don't understand that, and by doing something that to me (and usually, to them) is NBD -- asking them to wear little bike shorts under a dress -- I'm helping them avoid negative attention - whether it's giggles from a boy who just realized underwear are silly, the eye roll of a mom who thinks it's tacky she can see my kid's underwear, or some guy thinking inappropriate things. I'd rather people focus on the fact that my daughter can hang for a million years or is the quickest climbing three year old they've ever seen than on deciding whether or not it bothers them that they can see her underwear.

  15. PinkElephant

    grapefruit / 4584 posts

    @Foodnerd81: This is the reason it's a "rule" that my daughters have to wear the shorts pretty much all the time. b/c I don't feel like it becoming an argument when they need them and when they don't - and I want them to be used to it when I start telling them no about certain teen fashion trends.

    and HA to the teen fashion. Our babysitter showed up in an outfit that my DH was appalled by the other day. I was like "oh honey, unfortunately that's just what the girls wear these days..."

  16. Kemma

    grapefruit / 4291 posts

    I "make" my daughter wear bike shorts under her skirts because sometimes her undies don't fit particularly well and are a wee bit gapey at the crotch (girlfriend has a tiny bum). Bike shorts (or running pants as she calls them!) prevent any accidental exposure of her genitals.

    It's a shame that they daycare didn't say something like "underwear must be covered".

  17. lamariniere

    pineapple / 12566 posts

    As a mother to a daughter who will only wear dresses, I don't like the sound of this policy. My DD is 3.5 and she goes to full time daycare and I'm sure she flashes her underwear all the time, and I'm sure all the other little girls do too. We don't own any "undershorts" and I can say that 90% of the little girls at the local playground don't wear them either. We also live in Europe, so people don't care about this kind of thing. One thing I have been doing recently is telling my daughter that she doesn't need to show off her underwear. So if she is sitting in a splayed position, or doing something where her dress is hiked up, I ask her to just pull down her dress enough to cover her undies.

  18. littlejoy

    pomegranate / 3375 posts

    Our LO's school starts potty training around 15-18 months. At anytime, there were at least 2-3 kids running around with underwear on. My 2 year old would tell me she saw a penis at school (during bathroom breaks). Kids aren't capable of making more of this than it is ... same with underwear showing under a dress. And if the school vets its staff, I don't see where there could be an Issue.

  19. Corduroy

    pomelo / 5258 posts

    I remember when bike shorts under skirts took off at my school in 6th grade or so. The moms had many many discussions about how nobody was looking up your skirt and they were unnecessary. It's funny how so much has changed in a generation (in my community).

    Today when I picked DD up from circle time at preschool I heard one girl point out to another that her underwear was showing and the girl adjusted her dress. NBD. I'll keep sending mine without shorts until she changes what she wants to wear.

  20. MamaG

    pomelo / 5298 posts

    My 2.5 and 6 year olds prefer dresses over any other attire. I require shorts. Just like I pit bloomers over diapers. I don't like the look of diapers or underwear showing. This was an issue last summer when some other families at our daycare didn't have the same rule. I explained it away to my complaining child as different family different rules. That said it was part of our dress policy in elementary school last year.

  21. travellingbee

    hostess / papaya / 10219 posts

    I work at an elementary school and I recently had a similar discussion. It was decided by the majority of that gendered rules like that could be considered sexist and rather than sending out blanket policy letters, individual conversation should be had when any article of clothing becomes a distraction. So for example, the teacher could have let the individual parents know that the child has been uncomfortable with other people seeing their underwear and suggest you might want to wear shorts under skirts.
    Also, I just think it's weird because my son is four and they still change in front of each other and go to the bathroom with the door open so they see each other's parts all the time. I can't imagine them being weirded out by underwear.

  22. daniellemybelle

    cantaloupe / 6669 posts

    @Corduroy: I was just thinking that I wore dresses a lot as a kid and never wore shorts under them!

  23. Smurfette

    GOLD / wonderful coconut / 33402 posts

    I was talking to a friend and her son is starting private K. They have rules about how long his hair can be, but when I asked about girls, she said that they had nothing about girls hair. So I think gender rules, go both ways.

  24. ReadItMama

    coffee bean / 44 posts

    As an educator (K-12) I have different expectations in my classroom/for my students than I do when I am with my own children in parent-mode because I am able to supervise/monitor, intervene, guide, etc. more directly. So while I might let my daughter cool off spur-of-the-moment in undies, or wear a dress sans shorts I understand a common policy at school when parents are not present.

    Having two-three kids in the restroom supervised (i.e. teaching bathroom etiquette) is different than 16 around the classroom/playground when I'd rather have them focused on getting along, playing and learning.

  25. mrsjd

    clementine / 777 posts

    This would bother me personally and I do believe it is gendered. I didn't read all the comments but I noticed a few says that if boys wore kilts/dresses they would be held to the same standard as girls and that it is girls that wear dresses so of course the rules are going to be one sides. For me, that's the point. Girls are the only ones who traditionally wear dresses (no shade to little boys who want to wear dresses and moms who let them). So the rules are one sided and in my opinion unnecessary for such a young age. God forbid three year olds see underwear.

  26. Eko

    nectarine / 2148 posts

    I don't like the wording, but would have no issue with it. In general, I am all for modest dressing even in little kids. I don't like kids running around with no shirt on or girls in bikinis. Not saying it's wrong for other people, just not a personal choice.

  27. mrsjd

    clementine / 777 posts

    @travellingbee: That is a good way to handle it in my opinion and probably more effective than blanket rules.

  28. T.H.O.U.

    wonderful clementine / 24134 posts

    I wouldn't view this as a "dress code" but more a suggested policy.

    My daughter wore bike shorts 50/50 of the time.

    There were a few days where the teacher told me she put shorts on her (from her spares in her backpack) because DD was messing with her undies during circle time. Obviously thats a distraction to others and I agreed it was handled properly.

  29. looch

    wonderful pear / 26210 posts

    @travellingbee: This is really interesting to me, because schools where I live seem to be bending over backwards to avoid having a specific conversation with parents over their individual child's clothing.

    I am truly fascinated as to how people view things so differently!

  30. avivoca

    watermelon / 14467 posts

    So I sent DD1 in shorts today because we had them. I'm not against it. What I am against is the note being sent home about it. There is no stated school dress policy. I spoke to the assistant director and she agreed that it could have been worded better and she would speak to the director about it. If they want to implement a dress code and it has something in there about underwear needing to be covered, that is perfectly fine with me.

    @daniellemybelle: Same. I asked my mom on the phone last night and she confirmed that it was never an issue with our various dress codes and we didn't wear shorts under our skirts/dresses, even with our uniforms. I think it's fairly new (at least since the late 90s/early 00s) to have these policies.

  31. MrsLonghorn

    clementine / 806 posts

    Privacy or modesty? I would be super pissed. Also, that's what underwear is for....to cover up bodies.

    Ability to play comfortably? I'd be fine with that, but that's up to the child, not the teacher to decide...and I doubt that it is an issue at 3.5

  32. Anagram

    eggplant / 11716 posts

    @MrsLonghorn: my daughter is playing in sand comfortably right now wearing only a diaper under her dress.

  33. MrsLonghorn

    clementine / 806 posts

    @Anagram: YES!
    I'm sorry if my original message was unclear.... what I meant to convey was that I think the only reason a school *could* give that would be OK to me is that they want the kids to play comfortably. But it actually makes no sense because the only person who can decide if they are comfortable is the child, not a school administrator, so a "policy" makes no sense to me. Ugh, this idea is just sounding more jumbled every time I try to type it out....

  34. Anagram

    eggplant / 11716 posts

    @MrsLonghorn: I understand! I agree with you!

  35. BlueWolverine

    pear / 1510 posts

    DD will only wear dresses. She's four. We make her wear shorts to school. She's active, she's all over the place, she is often upside down. For me, it was more a comfort thing, but we've also started talking about things that are private, so it dovetails nicely.

    That said, I'm not a super fan of how they worded the letter either. Modesty, meh.

  36. josina

    pomegranate / 3973 posts

    "They have rules about how long his hair can be, but when I asked about girls, she said that they had nothing about girls hair."
    @Smurfette: How can they even get away with that?! DS's hair is short, but I would be livid. I know enough parent's who just don't want to cut off their son's baby curls. It'd be one thing if it was a safety issue, but since it only applies to boys, no way.

  37. Smurfette

    GOLD / wonderful coconut / 33402 posts

    @josina: I know. It even said how much it had to be above the ears. But nothing for girls at all. So wrong.

  38. catomd00

    grapefruit / 4418 posts

    Thats weird to me. How hard is it to remind girls to pull their dress down and to yeah other kids that it's not polite to look at other people's private areas? If my child is mature enough to know to keep her dress down, I'm not making her wear shorts under it just because it's a policy. I mean, they're 3-4 what's the big deal if they see each other's underwear and are corrected for it??

  39. periwinklebee

    grapefruit / 4466 posts

    @Smurfette: I knew someone who's school had that policy for boys. They are Native American, and having longer hair for boys is an important part of their culture, fortunately when they complained the rule was removed.

  40. 2littlepumpkins

    grapefruit / 4455 posts

    @Smurfette: actually when I was in school I remember covering up underwear being a big issue with the boys! They were always getting in trouble for baggy pants showing their butts/underwear.

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