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By Jeff Davidson,

It’s a warm day this Autumn and I’m driving through the campus at North Carolina State University in Raleigh. It’s only a couple miles from my home. The students are out and about in large numbers; it must be between classes. At a stoplight, I see a number of female students who are scantily dressed. Indeed it seems to be the norm. One is wearing red, skintight, athletic-type shorts, 10 or 12 inches above her knee.

A Show, All on Its Own
When she sits down in a classroom, those tiny little shorts are going to ride up even more, and her thighs are going to be amply on display to anyone who notices.
Granted, her shorts are not as scanty as I’ve seen. Some young women today wear shorts cut so snugly that, when they sit down, portions of their buttocks are literally rubbing against the seat. Not very sanitary and, in my opinion, socially undesirable.

Certainly 18- to 22-year-olds have a greater potential for concentration and focus then their counterparts in high school. So, the dress code in colleges understandably could be somewhat relaxed. In high schools, I surmise that a lack of a proper dress code contributes to an atmosphere that is less than conducive for effective learning.

On a college campus, people have a right to wear what they want, as long as it’s not crude or outright indecent. At that point, campus police would have to take notice. Still, this young lady, and others like her, wearing short shorts at least 10 inches above the knee makes me wonder.

What Should I Wear Today?
As the years and decades pass, standards begin to fray. Look at pictures of college students from the 1920s to even the 1990s and you’ll see far more clothing on everyone, regardless of the weather. It’s hard to believe, but once upon a time college men only wore suits and ties to class. That seems like the dinosaur age now, doesn’t it?

What was the red shorts co-ed thinking when she got dressed this morning? Ah, here’s an outfit I can wear, and it will be great for going to the gym afterwards! Or, everybody’s doing it, so what’s the difference? Or, perhaps, this will attract that cute guy in my English 101 class.

The woman’s professors, as well, are likely to take notice, particularly male, heterosexual professors. Whether the classroom is theater style, traditional classroom, or a group sitting in a circle, you can barely ignore a young, shapely woman with shorts so skimpy that not much is left to the imagination.

Larger questions loom. Is the decline in wardrobe standards on campus a direct function of the decline of our civil society? That’s a big one, and I’ll leave that to the sociologists to ponder. Are the parents of such students aware of how they dress for class? If they are aware, do they care? Have they ever brought up the issue? Or, as with so many else going on in our society today, did they simply let it pass?

Self-Probing Required
Self-probing questions linger. Have I become an old fuddy-duddy? Am I the only one who thinks that the issue ought to be explored? Or am I so out of touch with the current mores of society as to be irrelevant? I doubt it, but you can tell I’m making a self-retrospective attempt. Then I think, gosh, maybe I’m jealous of today’s students, who can get away with so much and, ostensibly, have so much more freedom appearance-wise than students of my era had. Maybe I wanted to be one of the young guys on campus, to meet such women.

I try to recall. When I went to college (so long ago!) on unusually warm days in September, April, and May, were the women, and for that matter, some of the guys, scantily dressed? It is hard to remember, however, my inclination is that they certainly did not dress that way.

In any event, I don’t think the situation can accelerate, as is the case of this young woman in the skintight short shorts. There’s not much more for the bottom half of her outfit that she could legally expose of herself!


Jeff Davidson is “The Work-Life Balance Expert®” and the premier thought leader on work-life balance, integration, and harmony. Jeff speaks to organizations that seek to enhance their overall productivity by improving the effectiveness of their people. He is the author of Breathing Space, Simpler Living, Dial it Down, and Everyday Project Management.


Jeff Davidson


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