Campus dress code: Striking a balance between modernity and modesty
Dress the way you want to be addressed” is a popular slogan that is usually used to buttress the fact that the way you dress tells alot about yourself. But this saying seems to have been thrown to the winds, as most ladies in Nigerian higher institutions dress in a manner that does not speak well of a responsible lady.
The spate of indecent, provocative and body-exposing dressing among females on our university campuses in the name of fashion and modernity is quite alarming.
A dress has simply been explained in Oxford Advanced Learners' Dictionary as “a piece of women's clothing that is made in one piece and covers the body down to the legs, sometimes reaching to below the knees or to the ankles”. But for most female undergraduates, the converse is the case. Their own definition of a dress is “pieces of women's (ladies) clothing that is made in many pieces and exposes the body down to the legs and most times, flying above the knees to the ankles'.
This defines what most female undergraduates wear, in and around the campus, to classes, lecturers' offices and even outside the campus, in the name of fashion.
Nigerian ladies in the higher institutions of learning have thrown away their values and our beloved culture as Africans to embrace the Western ways of dressing. They seem to have forgotten that a typical African or Nigerian woman is cultured and is expected to always cover sensitive parts of her body and not making a public show of parts of the body that should be covered, thereby to harassment and rape from the female folk, as it has been medicaly proven that a man can be aroused by merely seeing sensitive parts of a mature lady.
Every culture in Nigeria disapproves of such exposure and, at the same time, regards such exposure as an abomination.
Sometimes, even our mothers and elderly women who should be the custodians of our culture are towing the same line and are guilty of the crime of indecency in dress patterns. As a matter of tact, most ladies 'dressing to kill' copy the habit directly from their mothers. After all, if a mother can do such, there's nothing wrong if a daughter does the same.
Or, how can one explain different pictures of elderly women and mothers in dresses that expose parts of the body that ordinarily, should be covered, like their boobs, in addition to their outrageous make-ups, in the name of fashion and being young at heart?
Even our very dear female celebrities, especially actresses who should be role models to young, growing ladies, are guilty of seductive and provocative dressing. Apart from their dressing in movies in which they try to portray a particular character, the kind of dresses that they wear to public events and parties, like we see on television and magazines, are not a very good sight to behold.
As a matter of fact, most young ladies on our higher institutions imitate the dressing of these celebrities. They want to dress exactly the way their 'role model' dresses.
However, if asked why they dress the way they do to public events or the motive behind the dress they are putting on, during interviews, these celebrities defend their action by saying that they put on what makes them comfortable and that they are not dressing to impress anybody. But they forget that they are role models and that what they do goes along way to affect the younger generations.
To buttress this point, a Nollywood actress, Mercy Johnson, while speaking in the Fashion and style column of Sunday Vanguard of January 4th 2009, said 'on style resolution for 2009, I'm going to be cutting down on skimpy clothes. Although, as a person, I like clothes to cling to me, for next year, due to age, I'm going to cut down on skimpy clothes and go on a more mature and responsible level”.
Coming from a celebrity, this goes a long way to prove that wearing skimpy and body-exposing clothes does not speak well of a mature and responsible lady. So, ladies should watch out and be more mature and responsible in their dressing on our campuses.
There are a lot of complaints about the present style of dressing among our young people, mostly females in Nigerian higher institutions of learning. Physically and psychologically, the current styles of dressing have within the last few years been raising a lot of eyebrows among parents, guardians, lecturers and even the authorities of the various institutions.
Some institutions in Nigeria in trying to curb the menace of indecent dressing on campuses, have taken a bold step in enforcing dress codes for students and banning some dresses or dress patterns. Among such schools are the University of Lagos, (UNILAG), University of Ilorin (UNILORIN) and the Abrose Ali University (AAU), Ekpoma. With this kind of development, other universities that are yet to create awareness as regards dressing on campus should follow suit in order to bring decency and sanity to our campuses.
The fight against indecent dressing on campuses can only be successfully won if every segment of the society makes it a responsibility to put a stop to it. Television, newspapers, fashion and style magazines, soft sell magazines are contributing their own quota to indecency in dressing in their publications by pasting pictures of young ladies and women dressed indecently and giving them title like 'sexy', 'stunning', killing', thereby elevating vice to the level of virtue. No wonder advertisers are using the opportunity to make use of the female folk for sex appeal to advertise their products.
Hence, the media, parents, and all relevant authorities should stand up to the challenge of making sure that all manners of indecency in dress patterns among students on campus, especially females are eradicated.
Guys are also not left out in the issue of indecent dressing. Guys also dress indecently by sagging their trousers, putting on earrings, plaiting of hair, etc.
While undergraduates, especially females, are free to be fashionable as is argued in many quarters, this must be done with some moderation, not forgetting that the main focus in higher institutions of learning such as the university is learning. Acquisition of knowledge is the priority. There's nothing bad in looking good, stunning, cute and smart, but the way one goes about it matters alot and tells alot about one.
Ladies should strive to jealously guard their dignity and womanhood. This is because dressing indecently does not add to one's beauty and does not make one a 'big girl' or 'big boy'. You can never tell, that dress, tight top, micro mini skirt, sexy gown, show me your chest boobs, tummy tops, etc you're putting on may be making another fellow, even a lady like you, uncomfortable.
A lot of sex-related problems, such as rape and other forms of sexual abuse will be reduced in our various higher institutions of learning if students can strike a balance between modernity and modesty.