As an international student at the University of Minnesota, I am deeply immersed in studying the American way of life, and culture in general. Naturally, I find some things surprising. Some of them make complete sense to me, some of them a bit less, and a few of them I still don’t understand at all.
One of those hard-to-understand things is the dress code policy in the University Recreation and Wellness Center.
When I went there for the first time, I was dressed in a normal way, or I believed I was — gym shoes, cropped leggings and a tank top. Shortly after I started exercising, a person on duty approached and told me tank tops were not acceptable for the gym and I should go and get a T-shirt with sleeves.
Wow, this made me laugh. I explained to him I hadn’t known about this policy. I believed that there was nothing wrong with my attire, nothing that could offend anyone, cause any harm to others or spoil their day. I told him I would wear a T-shirt on next time if that was the policy.
After this, I was approached by two other people on duty there, every time at a different spot, with the same request, so I realized that tank tops were really a big issue there. I wondered — and I still wonder — why? Are shoulders considered indecent? Or maybe armpits? Or shoulder blades?
I asked some of my American friends who studied at the University a few years ago, and they were surprised because when they studied here there had not been such a policy. They were highly amused, too.
It made us wonder what would be next? Will we have to cover our knees, calves or elbows? Or are tank tops prohibited on the entire campus? Who knows? And really, is it necessary to produce new unnecessary policies?
It is quite possible that there might be a reasonable explanation for this policy, and I just don’t see it. So please, could somebody tell me what is wrong with tank tops?