Ask most middle schoolers about dress codes and they will probably have something to say. That is if there is one that is at least semi-enforced at their school. Dress codes are a touchy subject. Why are certain things decided? Why do they sometimes get enforced and sometimes get completely ignored? And seriously, does the notion that a boy won’t be able to study if a girl bares her shoulders really need to even be brought up in this day and age? These are some of the things that Molly and her friends deal with on a regular basis in Dress Coded.
The 8th grade girls are frustrated but the final straw comes when Olivia gets coded for wearing a tank top. This one offense cancels the 8th grade camping trip and prompts Molly to start a podcast about the school’s dress code. Molly never gets dress coded. She has even worn the exact same outfit as someone else who got dress coded, and Molly was ignored. And the boys don’t seem to have any rules at all.
As a parent of a middle school girl, I know the struggles these girls are facing. When they are required to have their shorts reach the tips of their fingertips, I shake my head knowing it is near impossible to find that, the stores don’t sell them. Living in the heat of NC, there is no way I would force my kid to go to school in August in jeans.
My 13 year old loved this story and was agreeing with nearly everything that was happening. The thing that is over the top in this story is that the principal and staff member that roams the halls looking for dress code fails are horrible. It is one thing to dress code a kid and make them call their parents for a change of clothes. But these two made girls cry on a regular basis and were incredibly degrading. Middle school is hard enough without that kind of insanity. But it allows Molly and her friends to do something about it. Kids often don’t feel like their voices are heard or their opinions considered, but Molly takes a stand and gets many people to side with her and come together as a community opposed to the treatment as their school.
There is another side story that is throughout the story about vaping. I don’t think I’ve seen a book take on vaping yet, but there are probably others. In this, Molly’s older brother is not only addicted to vaping, but he is selling pods to younger kids on the bus (MS and HS on the same bus?!?!?) His addiction is also impacting the family, especially Molly who just wants a brother who cares for her.
All in all, this was a really enjoyable middle grade read. Talk about kids being able to see themselves in a story, this is spot on.