These "Inappropriate" Outfits Will Make You Scratch Your Head

This week, Toronto students became the latest to push back against their school's restrictive dress codes with their "Crop Top Day" protest. But, banning crop tops is just one example; over the past year, we've seen a spike in women and girls getting in trouble for wearing all kinds of clothing — clothing that wouldn't elicit freak-outs from most sane people.

There was the school that allowed backless dresses, but kicked a student out of prom for wearing one. The 5-year-old girl whose teacher made her cover up a simple sundress. The woman who wasn't allowed to wear pants to prom (because it's 1915?). And, these are just the tip of the iceberg. Ahead, we show seven times when school dress codes went way too far.
1 of 7
Photo: Courtesy of @CP24.
Students at Toronto's Etobicoke School of the Arts declared Tuesday "Crop Top Day" in solidarity with student Alexi Halket, who was sent to the principal's office when her sports-bra-like crop top offended a teacher.

Halket said she chose the top because she wanted to feel beautiful and confident, and that "[the school was] sexualizing my outfit." To his credit, the school principal, Rob MacKinnon, seemed to take the protest seriously; he met with 200 students to discuss the issue: "[It's not about] sexualizing students or objectifying them, but what's okay in school," he said.

The school's dress code does not explicitly ban crop tops, and school officials are not changing that for now. In the meantime, Halket maintains that she should be able to wear "whatever makes [her] comfortable," while principal MacKinnon praised students for standing up for their beliefs: "I'm very proud of them for talking about what they value."
Advertisement
2 of 7
Photo: Courtesy of Facebook.
In April, a teacher ordered Michigan high school student Mireya Briceno to leave her prom because her dress was "too revealing" and "violated dress code." Apparently, the teacher had not read the school's prom dress code, which specifically permitted backless dresses. Despite Briceno's protests, she was still forced to leave her dance.

Briceno's mother demanded, but did not receive, an apology from the school for the incident, and Briceno vowed to wear the same dress to her boyfriend's prom later that year.
3 of 7
Photo: Courtesy of Facebook.
Pennsylvania student Alexus Miller-Wigfall was given a suspension after her prom dress was deemed "too revealing" of her cleavage. This was despite the fact that Miller-Wigfall had previously submitted a photo of the dress to her school for approval — now a requirement at many schools for female students (tuxes are curiously not subject to pre-approval).

Miller-Wigfall's mother believed that, since other students wore "more revealing" dresses without consequence, her daughter was actually being punished for being plus-size. A similar incident occurred with Washington student Brittany Minder in 2013. This raises an important point: For women with large chests, cleavage is kind of inevitable. Isn't banning it inherently sizeist?
4 of 7
Photo: Courtesy of @jefrouner.
Not even toddlers are exempt from body policing. In April, when Houston-based writer Jef Rouner picked up his 5-year-old daughter from school, he was surprised to find a teacher had made her wear a T-shirt over the full-length, rainbow sundress shown here. The reason? The little girl's bare shoulders violated the school's dress code.

Rouner clapped back at the incident in a post on Houston Press titled "The Apparently Immoral Shoulders Of My Five-Year-Old Daughter." It masterfully deconstructs the sexism inherent in dress codes that — as so many do — include a myriad of restrictions on women's dress, but absolutely none on men's.

"Make no mistake," he wrote, "Every school dress code that is not a set uniform is about policing girls and girls alone." Amen.
5 of 7
Photo: Courtesy of Facebook.
The flip side of policing female bodies is punishing women who don't dress "feminine enough." North Carolina high school senior Shafer Rupard experienced this firsthand, when she showed up to her senior prom in the jazzy ensemble shown here, only to be told by a teacher that her red pants were unacceptable and she needed to leave.

Rupard rightfully thought the decision was ridiculous, especially given the fact that her school's prom Code of Conduct did not include a dress code at all (in case it wasn't clear that many of these incidents came down to teachers' whims).

Rupard eventually received an apology from her school and a refund of her prom ticket. A pyrrhic victory given her night was already ruined, but better than nothing.
6 of 7
Photo: Courtesy of Facebook.
In a truly head-scratching incident, Utah high schooler Gabi Finalyson was denied entrance to her school dance in January, unless she wore a sweater to cover her "bare shoulders." Call us crazy, but we're pretty sure her shoulders....aren't bare.

In fact, Finalyson's dress did adhere to the school’s “2-inch minimum shoulder strap” rule. What this dress bares are Gabi's arms; maybe that teacher needs a refresher in anatomy.

Finalyson's mother wondered if this incredibly strict interpretation was about imposing Mormon dress codes on students. "Let's stop this insanity," she wrote. "Girls' bodies are not sexual objects, and religious perspectives should not be imposed at a public school.”
Advertisement
7 of 7
Photo: Courtesy of @lamesophie.
Proving that equal rights for women is still a controversial concept in some parts of the country, Sophie, an 8th grader at Clermont Northeastern Middle School in Ohio, was surprised to find that her homemade "Feminist" T-shirt was crudely Photoshopped out of her class picture. The school's official story was that they did so because the tee was "unflattering," and claimed that they had informed Sophie's mom of the censorship. But, her mother claimed no knowledge of the incident.

Luckily, Sophie's fellow students saw through the school's questionable judgement and subsequent squirrelly behavior, coming to her support with proud social media declarations of their feminism, bolstered by the hashtag #IDeserveFreedomOfExpression. Refer to this story anytime you need to restore your faith in the youths.
Advertisement