Fashion conscious teens showing off more than just their style

Divy Bose | The Chronicle

Illustration by Allison Droege

Despite the many attempts to ban its appearance, the belly button has resurfaced and it’s here to stay. At least for now.

Style, primarily that of the young women at Mason High School, has evolved over time. The world of fashion is constantly changing and rarely does it pay any attention to archaic rules that have been etched in school handbooks for decades.

In the 2015-16 MHS handbook the rules governing attire stated “Clothing must be worn in a manner that does not expose the shoulder, torso, midriff, chest, cleavage, back, buttocks, or undergarments.” Despite the rule being in black and white the kids at MHS did what teenagers do, they tested the rule, they wore clothes that pushed the boundaries and eventually the boundaries changed.

Now, in the 2020-21 handbook the dress code basically bans visible undergarments and potentially insensitive images that could be viewed as harmful. But there’s nothing about the belly button.

As students have become more comfortable with wearing what they choose, the crop top trend has come back after several years of hiding away. Junior Paisley Jurewicz is glad that things have loosened up a bit and feels empowered to wear clothes that make her feel more confident.

“I started wearing more of what I felt good in freshman year,” Jurewicz said. “I wanted to look my best in an environment where I am at times not at my best internally.”

Clothing that exposes the belly button can also be seen as a way to show off piercings. Senior Alex Joseph cannot wear earrings due to an allergy to the different metals in most earrings. So she turned to belly button piercing because they’re made with titanium. Joseph wanted to prove that getting a belly button piercing is a way of showing inner strength and individuality.

“I decided to have a piercing that I could finally keep in and show off,” Joseph said. “I see it as an attention catcher that can inspire others to do whatever they want to their own body.”

Even with a piercing or wearing a crop top, some eyes just aren’t drawn to the belly button. Mason Spanish teacher Debra Perry says that her focal point is on the students’ integrity, even if she is more on the modest side of things.

“I look at my kids from the neck up,” Perry said. “If I know that student well enough, my perception of that student will not change.”

Perry has noticed quite a difference in what is being worn around MHS in the past few years as trends change rapidly in a teenager’s world. She says that school is not necessarily the place for choosing a more revealing outfit, but to take into account that school may be their outlet for displaying their own confidence.

“The students have their thumbs on the beat of the style,” Perry says. “I dress for simplicity and comfort, but I know students use school as their platform to wear what’s popular and what they think looks best on them.”

Some students have gone from strutting down the halls to completely having to change their wardrobe because of comments they have received. Alex Joseph says that during her freshman year she got in trouble for wearing something she liked.

“The teacher just straight up told me no to my face with no context,” Joseph said. “I went as far as to throw out that shirt and will never wear that same outfit again.”

Some students have been accused of wearing revealing clothing styles as a way to get attention. Jurewicz believes young women shouldn’t have the responsibility placed on their shoulders.

“If I am showing more skin one day but then the next I am completely covered, you should not look at me any differently than the other day,” Jurewicz said. “If a boy gets distracted by what I wear, that’s on him, not me.”

Body style and development can also play a major role in how young women are perceived and even judged. Jurewicz said she and her friend once wore the exact same shirt but received different reactions from adults because of their different body types.

“No one should be told not to wear a certain shirt just because they are more developed,” Jurewicz said. “Someone shouldn’t have been upset over wearing something I wore and got no comment on.”

As students migrate from middle to high school they start to break out of the normal “shirt and shorts” outfit now that they’re in high school. In some cases they show their maturity and growth by what they choose to wear.

“There’s more behind that crop top the student is wearing,” Joseph said. “When that top is criticized, so is the deeper layer of the student who made the decision to wear what they wanted.”

As the crop top trend becomes more of an everyday occurrence there are those who think Mason’s reputation needs to be upheld. Perry wishes kids would consider what they’re wearing and even though their outfit may push the limit, she does not want to offend any student’s style.

“We’re a big school, so we have to remain tasteful,” Perry says. “But I don’t want to step on any kids’ personal taste, even if there is a certain time and place for some choices of clothing.”

In order for the school to get tougher with the dress code a lengthy process would have to be explored in order to get a new code school board approved. Jurewicz said that the older generations need to understand that choosing to wear a crop top each day is for one’s self-confidence, not for anyone else’s judgment.

“Just because some adults may not get my choice of clothing, does not mean that I need to make them get it,” Jurewicz said. “I tell people that they can judge me all they want, but that does not mean I am ever going to change for them.”