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This headline may have you just as confused as I am, but the sad reality is, women face this kind of judgement every day, and in unexpected places.

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Three minutes after Tori Jenkins and her fiancé Tyler Newman entered the swimming pool at their apartment complex, they received a complaint about how she was dressed and were told she would have to either change her bathing suit, cover up with shorts, or leave the pool because she was wearing a ‘thong’ bathing suit.

Tyler documented the absurd claim, taking to Facebook to share their experience. He highlights how poorly Tori was treated by the leasing consultant:

In the office, the leasing consultant (who, for now, I will not name) insisted upon letting Tori take her picture to show “how inappropriate” her bathing suit was, and instructed her to look into a mirror at her own body. When my fiancée replied with “I know what I look like, I bought this myself, it’s not a thong” the consultant told Tori that if she didn’t have kids herself, she wouldn’t understand. She was told that the leasing consultant wouldn’t want her own kids around Tori. When Tori explained that yes, she does indeed have a larger butt than a lot of people, and that 95% of the things she wears ride up when she walks, the woman told Tori that a “normal bathing suit covers your entire butt” and again deemed my fiancée’s body inappropriate. Tori, however, refused this because there are obviously different types of bathing suits. She was told I wasn’t allowed to spray tanning lotion on parts of her body that she can’t reach because the consultant insisted that she could reach them herself. She was told that her body, because it’s built more curvy than others is “too inappropriate” for children to be around. She was told “there are a lot of teenage boys in this complex, and you don’t need to excite them.”

You can read the full story on Tyler’s Facebook wall, which already has over 31k shares and over 15k comments.

Hannah Pewee and her sister went to the Woodland Mall in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on Saturday, and she donned this outfit for the 90-degree weather.

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Partway through her shopping trip with her sister, she was approached by mall security and told to leave because someone had complained that her outfit was inappropriate — because nothing says scandalous like a Finding Nemo shirt!

She too took to her Facebook in outrage:

As many of you know, it is NINETY degrees outside today in West Michigan. Aka, really hot. So, of course, I decided to dress for the weather: shorts and a tank top. But apparently, how I was dressed (see photo below) was too slutty for the public, as I was kicked out of the Woodland Mall today.

Yup. Apparently some anonymous person reported me to MALL SECURITY for inappropriate dress and I was kicked out.

Never mind that within a one foot radius there were plenty of girls dressed just like me, since it’s NINETY degrees outside. I am so angry right now I’m shaking. I felt so embarrassed I almost cried. All because a stranger didn’t like how I dressed.

The Woodland Mall should be ashamed of themselves, as well as that anonymous complainer. It’s my body, and it’s hot outside! I’m not going to show up in jeans and a sweater, sorry. Don’t like it? Look away! I was out having a fun time with my sister and next thing I know, I’m out on the street. Slut-shaming how girls are dressed is deplorable and outdated, and it needs to stop.

Even more recently, Sierrah Anderson visited a mall in Winnipeg, Manitoba, to get her phone repaired. She drove 60 minutes to the mall because the store she sought couldn’t be found in her own t0wn. While waiting in line, she was approached by security staff. “They said I need to leave the mall immediately or they would press charges for public indecency,” said Sierrah.

Ironically, Sierrah actually purchased the shorts at the same mall out of which she was escorted. What are women to do when they are being condemned for wearing clothes in the same place those clothes are being marketed to them?

Simply put, women are subjected to abhorrent levels of public scrutiny, body shaming, sexism, and manipulation each and every day.

In 2013, Sharon Choksi decided to create her own clothing brand for girls called Girls Will Be because of her extreme difficulty in finding clothes for her then 4-year-old daughter, who was pretty particular about her taste in clothing: “Nothing too frilly, nothing with bows, NO sparkles. Short shorts and tight fits were a big no-no, but the clothes couldn’t be too baggy or boxy either.”

Most times she found herself buying clothes for her daughter in the boys section, which made her upset. Not because they were ‘boys clothes,’ but because major clothing retailers for children only featured clothing for girls that her daughter didn’t feel comfortable in. Sharon decided to do her own research and found that “girls shirts were one to three inches thinner, the sleeves were shorter, and the girls shorts were barely a third of the length.”

Sharon is joined by countless other parents who have taken it upon themselves to create brands for their children that promote positivity and equality. You can find a list of them here.

Catherine Pearlman also struggles to buy clothing for her 13-year-old daughter that meets the school dress code. Her daughter was sent home two days in a row for dressing ‘inappropriately,’ so she wrote an open letter to the school’s principle welcoming him to take her daughter shopping instead:

Dear Middle School Principal:

Thank you for sending a note home for the second day in a row to say my daughter was dressed inappropriately for school. I’d like to offer an additional thank you for forcing her to change into large mesh shorts that have been worn by only god knows who and potentially never washed.

To reward you for treating my daughter with such concern, I am cordially inviting you to take my daughter shopping.

Here are the specifications you have to work with. I wish you loads of luck.

She is 5’7” and 13 years old. Built more like her father, she has exceptionally long legs and arms.

She doesn’t like anything pink or purple or frilly.

She won’t wear pants because she gets overheated easily. Trust me I’ve seen this. It will cause a scene in the school yard.

She absolutely will not wear a dress either.

No item of clothing can have a logo visible because to her that’s not cool. She will however, wear any type of superhero, Green Day or USFL T-shirt if you can find them. You might be able to try for an occasional Beatles reference but that’s touch and go.

Now, don’t forget that you will have to find something in the stores that also meets with your dress code requirements. Here are the tricky areas that are most difficult to avoid. As per your policy she cannot wear tank tops. Shorts and skirts must not extend to the end of the fingertips (This is a toughie.)

So, if I were you (and I’m glad I’m not) I’d focus on the shorts first. She has very long fingers which seems to make finding shorts that won’t get her sent to the principal’s office impossible (On the bright side the piano teacher says those fingers are an asset.). I’d schedule a few afternoons and weekends for this endeavor. I can tell you from experience that just heading to the mall, Target and the outlets won’t cut it. Not much for her there. I’ve already checked.

One last point: please try to stay within a reasonable budget. We can’t spend a fortune on her wardrobe. She is still growing after all.

I thank you endlessly for taking on this chore. What a relief for me.

Sincerely,

Sick Of The Dress Code Mom

P.S. I forgot to thank you for making it clear to my daughter that her body is somehow a distraction, either to herself or to the boys. I thought she might have missed the message earlier in the year when the gym teacher told her she couldn’t wear yoga pants because the boys aren’t able to control themselves. I appreciate how hard you are working to drive the point home.

There is a common theme here, and it couldn’t be more sexist. Girls supposedly have to adjust what they wear to ensure they don’t excite and distract their male peers, preventing them from learning — and apparently boys learning is the priority, since girls are taken out of class frequently to help them focus. This is humiliating for females and, frankly, demeaning for males, assuming that they have no control over their ‘primal’ instincts.

Asking a child to leave the classroom for something they are wearing infringes entirely on their ability to learn and contributes to daily stress, especially when they have to find something they both feel comfortable in and won’t be penalized for. How are females to dress ‘decently’ when there aren’t clothes available to them that is appropriate or allows them to express their personality? And, more importantly, who decides what is decent?

Stacie Dunn had to leave her workplace because her daughter’s shirt revealed her clavicle. 

“Woodford County High School and the principal have been enforcing a dress code whereas girls cannot show even their collarbones because it may distract their male classmates.” says Stacie. “This is ridiculous! Parents are being called away from their important jobs and students are missing important class time because they are showing their collarbones! Something needs to change!” She couldn’t believe the amount of girls in the principals office who were also infringing on the dress code, “When I got there I found a group of female students standing in the office due to being out of dress code also.”

Students, male and female alike, have noticed the double standard. Even sadder is the trending hashtag on Twitter #IfAnythingSchoolTaughtMe, which points out that, having moved beyond their educational institution, rather than feeling uplifted, knowledgable, and confident in their own skills, they are left with the jarring recognition of how commonly inequality is being practiced and implemented by their ‘leaders’.

There’s Still Hope…

Young women are fighting this every day and are even joined by their male peers. Kaitlyn Juvik was sent home for not wearing a bra to school despite the dress code not specifying that it wasn’t allowed. Her shirt fully covered her breasts and she even wore  nipple covers underneath in case. “I was told that a male teacher had complained he was uncomfortable because I wasn’t wearing a bra, and I was told to find something to cover up with” says Kaitlyn.

One of Kaitlyn’s classmates, Brooke Lanier, created the Facebook group “No Bra, No Problem,” which sparked a movement that involved about 300 female Helena High students who went braless to school on May 27 in protest, joined by several male students who wore bras.

A Body Positivity Movement has even emerged from the despair women experience every day of trying to make their body into something that the world will deem desirable or appropriate. They have one clear message: LOVE YOURSELF, your WHOLE SELF.

One of my favourite accounts to follow is @bodyposipanda run by Megan Jayne Crabbe, who often posts adorable videos of her having a great time dancing with the hashtag #donthatetheshake, which even has its own account on Instagram with the same name. Everyone of her posts is designed to uplift, inspire, and generate constant self love talk.

Dana Patterson is another perfect example that loving yourself and being comfortable in your own skin can help you achieve your dreams. She started the hashtag #danagratitudechallenge, which challenges you to post a picture on Instagram every day for fifteen days, expressing something for which you are grateful. She encourages all of her 218k followers to join her to help remind every person to appreciate the great things they have in life. She is also never short on inspiration, and in February posted a photo of her younger self with a letter to her younger self.

A plethora of accounts like these have emerged, so why not curate the media you expose yourself to so that it includes people who work daily to reinforce the love you have for yourself rather than the shame you carry?

Take responsibility for what you absorb and remember that the world may seem harsh, mean, and unjust, but the answer to this problem is simple: When you love yourself and embrace who you truly are, the world has no choice but to accept and recognize your worth. Beauty doesn’t look any one way; it’s a feeling that is waiting to be acknowledged and embraced. It’s right there inside you, always, ready to shine!

Let’s work together to help women of all ages and walks of life to love the skin they’re in by being the best examples of ourselves. When you love YOU, life will help to reflect that on all that you love, too.

Thanks for reading xo

 


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