Welcome to Mothership: Parenting stories you actually want to read, whether you're thinking about or passing on kids, from egg-freezing to taking home baby and beyond. Because motherhood is a big if — not when — and it's time we talked about it that way.
Being a teen is hard enough, with annoying acne and totally embarrassing parents and weird bodily changes to worry about. But high school dress codes and overzealous administrators are cracking down on teens for wearing clothing that are considered too scandalous for class. Short skirts have been the most popular offender, but even yoga pants are getting girls sent home from class these days.
One mom got so irked with her daughter's alleged dress code "violations" that she wrote an open letter to her daughter's principal. Dr. Catherine Perlman, a parenting coach, invited him to take her daughter shopping for clothes that are deemed appropriate for school. But like any teen girl, her daughter has picky taste when it comes to her outfits. "She doesn't like anything purple or pink or frilly," Dr. Perlman writes, and "she has very long fingers which seems to make finding shorts that won’t get her sent to the principal’s office impossible." And her shorts aren't even that short.
The mom shared this photo to Today, after her daughter's principal sent home a second note explaining the dress code infractions. In this case, it's a pair of simple denim shorts that are just barely shorter than the length of her fingertips. She was forced to cover up in a pair of oversized mesh shorts that, in addition to being questionably clean, which her mom says also served to ostracize her in front of her classmates.
Most public school dress codes center around the age-old fingertip rule: that shorts, skirts, and dresses cannot reach higher than the student's fingertips. It's a rule that has little basis in reality because some kids have long limbs or fingers that may be out of proportion with their bodies as they go through their growth spurts, like this teen girl. These dress code rules seem to exist to police teen girls' modesty, with the onus being placed on them to avoid "distracting" the boys in class.
Suspending kids for dress code infractions — or worse, making them wear outlandish coverings to shame them amongst their peers — directly impacts the girls' education, because they're being forced to leave class or deal with the public humiliation. It tells girls that teen boys are so entitled to their bodies that they can't learn if girls wear arbitrarily immodest clothing. And it singles out girls as being responsible for the desires of males students (and teachers, yuck), as though their bodies are so inherently sexualized for male consumptions and absent of any sexual agency the girls may have. It's totally sexist. Teen girls go to school to obtain an education, but it is upsetting that they are learning the rules of our sexist culture instead. Let's hope more parents speak out about how unfair this is.
Read These Stories Next: