Implement dress codes that are equal for all

By Kaity Kempf | LTVN Reporter/Anchor

Recently, I was inspired to start working out more. I thought, “What better way to start than to go to Baylor’s very own gym?” I made plans to go with a group of friends, and I was extremely excited to go; however, I was not met with that same enthusiasm and energy.

The night I went, I wore a long-sleeved black shirt and blue leggings, and in between, about an inch of my midriff showed — nothing scandalous, nothing that hasn’t been seen in a gym before, just your normal gym attire. I walked into the fitness center and was met with judgmental eyes. I checked in, and I wondered what the matter was, not even thinking of my attire because it seemed so insignificant to me. A worker soon approached me to inform me that what I was wearing was not allowed in the fitness center because it was cropped.

When I inquired why that rule was in place, I was told that it was a COVID-19 guideline, which seemed ridiculous. If there were a serious concern for COVID-19 in the gym, the students and faculty in the fitness center would be taking precautions like wearing masks inside, which was not happening. I reached out to my workout buddies to see if they had encountered a similar problem working out at the McLane Student Life Center (SLC). I was met with responses of situations that were extremely similar to mine. For reference, the SLC Building Usage Manual states that “Full length shirts with sleeves and protective footwear are required in weights/fitness area and at the rock bouldering area. Sports bras must be covered by a shirt.”

One girl was told not to wear clothes similar to mine due to sweat problems during the workout. This does not make sense, as I was told that it was due to COVID-19, which is something very different. Also, in the fitness center, individuals are required to clean and sanitize the equipment and machines after use. If sweat was that big of an issue, I believe we should take a look at the cleaning solution rather than the dress code.

Another problem I’ve noticed with this situation is that all women are pursued in this dress code nonsense. Right after I was approached by the employee, I looked around to see that the majority of the male population in the gym was, in fact, not following the dress code either. Why was I the one approached when their sleeveless tanks showed more skin than my long-sleeved shirt did? Where was the concern for sweat and COVID-19 then? If we are going to have dress codes, let’s at least apply them equally. Similar to other universities, such as Texas Christian University, I believe the SLC should have a less strict or no dress code and be welcoming to all people regardless of clothing.

The blatant sexism aside, the gym should be a safe place for all, and that includes individuals’ workout attire. Outside of my group of friends, I have asked around regarding this subject to get a full grasp on the matter, and it has only further justified the point of this article. Many students at Baylor, specifically women, feel so discouraged using the Baylor gym because of the dress code that they are forced to find a gym elsewhere to invest in. It’s wrong to make women feel so unwelcomed in a place that is supposed to be “for all.”

The dress code at the SLC does more harm than good and predominantly targets and discriminates against female students. If we want to increase community and foster growth within our students as Baylor encourages, perhaps it can start by slowly implementing these changes in order to create a better environment for gym attendees.