I’ve been seeing these posts a lot in my news feed lately. Girls taking back their bodies and reclaiming themselves. They are standing up to victim shaming and rape culture. They are brave and empowering themselves and others, and I am so proud of them.
The first one was in Texas, and it really bothered me. A lot.
“How about instead of body shaming women, school systems should start teaching 15-18 year old boys to stop degrading women with their eyes and contributing to the rape culture of today’s society,” she wrote. “Bottom line, girls cannot go to school in comfortable clothes THAT COVER EVERYTHING because school systems are afraid that hormonal boys won’t be able to control their eyes and minds. And that is such a bigger problem than worrying about clothing.”
The school district has declined to discuss the situation owing to confidentiality laws. However in a statement given to Today.com, superintendent Stephen Patterson seemed to suggest that Macy Edgerly’s loose-fitting shirt didn’t meet the fingertip rule, which is spelled out in the Orangefield High School student handbook. If leggings are worn to school, the accompanying top has to be “below fingertips when hands are held straight down at your side,” according to the handbook.
As for Erica Edgerly, on Wednesday she posted an update on her Facebook page saying that she understood that because her sister’s shirt wasn’t as long on the sides, the outfit technically violated the Orangefield High dress code.
“I understand that there are always rules that need to be followed, (and my sister thought she was following them) and the administration has a job to do,” she wrote. However, continued Edgerly, “so many young girls (and their mothers) have messaged me thanking me because their school sent them home for being fully clothed, but one part of their outfit hugged one part of their God given bodies a little too tight, and was seen as inappropriate and that is the real issue here.”
The next one is linked to this first article. After being sent home from school for breaking dresscode for short shorts in Canada, a girl returned to school and posted these signs in the halls.
That is some powerful stuff right there. And she has hit the nail on the head for every single one of them.
When Smith contacted the school about the dress code, she was informed that it was put in place as a reaction to a “history of inappropriate swimsuits.” The principal also suggested that requisite T-shirts would take away the possibility of some students who wanted to cover up being teased for doing so, since “everyone is required to wear one.” A district spokesperson added to the Huffington Post that the T-shirt rule was intended to spare less affluent families the cost of buying their daughters new one-piece swimsuits, an alternate dress code requirement that was considered.
Smith remained unconvinced, and suggested that — in the interest of equality — both boys and girls be required to wear shirts, an idea that was met without enthusiasm. A few days before the party, the school relented and abolished the shirt requirement. The party was held this past Monday, with all the students dressed as they chose.
So the school claimed it was in response to fat shaming, but this mother- who has a son not a daughter- didn’t buy it for a second. And she would be correct. Fat shaming would have also been highly inappropriate, but more easily to pass off, had both boys and girls been required to wear covers. But it was only girls, so it was clearly a body issue.
A family member commented on this from a news site saying that rules like this are in place to prevent teen pregnancy. That this parent will be singing a different tune when their child becomes a parent before graduation. Excuse me…what kind of fucking bullshit is that? Shaming girls into covering their bodies and the actual act of sex have nothing to do with each other. And if you honestly, truly, whole-heartedly believe that they do…then you are a big part of the problem.
The final one is the one that I have the hardest time supporting.
I’m an educator. I’m a professional. I honestly believe that part of the problem with the lack of respect within the system is things like dress codes- specifically dress codes not being followed. I totally believe there is a time and a place for specific attire. I believe we dress in costume all day every day, and our costume should match where we are and what we are doing. The manpower that is spent every day with checking on girls and making sure their shirts/skirts/shorts are long enough, their pants are thick enough, their tops straps are not overly revealing…
Hubby has a “dress code” that he must follow when he goes to work everyday. He works in an office that requires a suit and tie. So every morning he dresses in a dress shirt, slacks, and wears a matching tie. He shows his personality with his shirts and ties- bold, geometric patterned ties on plain shirts or bright checked shirts with plain ties. I also have a dress code which I must follow at work, and while it is less-strict than Hubby’s, it sets the precedence that I am a professional at work to complete my job. Students come to school to complete their job, which is to learn. They should dress the part.
The dress featured in the last picture above is lovely. I’m sure it makes the young lady wearing it feel wonderful. I’m sure it’s comfortable. But it is the wrong costume for the occasion. One would not wear a Halloween costume to a black-tie New Year’s Eve party. One would not wear swim trunks to go skiing (ok, one might for laughs or because one is drunk, but that’s still proving my point). I would not wear my cloak to the grocery store. The dress is lovely, but it’s in the wrong time/place.
To be continued: Where we stand