The day girls get dress-coded for actual violations will be the day pigs fly. As long as violations are decided by a board of mostly men, girls will be sent home from school, deprived of their education because of an article of clothing deemed too distracting. Sometimes, both sides can make an argument, but other times, there are incidents in which there is just no legroom for protest.
This is not the case when said dress code incident comes with a large side of body-shaming.
At Joplin High School in Joplin, Missouri, 17-year-old Kelsey Anderson was called out for the outfit she wore that day. It featured a long-sleeved red blouse that tied shut in the front, ripped blue jeans, and black boots. In general, school dress codes state that any student showing cleavage to an extreme will be sent home, and the Joplin High School dress code is no different.
“The following examples of clothing are considered unacceptable and not permitted: mesh or other see-through clothing … clothes that expose … cleavage or undergarments,” the handbook reads. “Teachers are expected to enforce this policy to protect student health and safety and maintain an atmosphere conducive to education … Students who violate the dress code are expected to make the appropriate changes immediately.”
In Anderson’s case, there was no need to make a change – her shirt didn’t show any cleavage at all. The administration didn’t seem to think so, however, and as a result, she was pulled out of class and sent to the office. More shockingly, when inquiring why, the teacher responded, “Bustier women need to wear clothing that cover[s] their cleavage … Your boobs are bigger than most girls, and you are gonna have to try harder. Plus size women need to dress accordingly.”
This statement was made in front of the entire class.
Anderson’s mother, Melissa Barber, was furious, taking to Facebook to voice her tirade. “This is the shirt that just got my 17-year-old dress coded … The teacher said, ‘Your boobs are bigger than most girls, and you are gonna have to try harder’. She really needs to not speak to my daughter like that … What is wrong with the way this child is dressed????”
Not only is it horrifying that Anderson was body-shamed in front of an entire class of her peers, she was body-shamed by a female teacher.
To be body-shamed by a man? Utterly disrespectful. But by a woman? Even worse. Barber even adds that the headmaster chose to defend the teacher’s actions. “She was embarrassed and horrified [at the situation],” she wrote. “She [Anderson] requested to be removed from the teacher’s class. He said no. He continued to defend the teacher.”
“I could see we were getting nowhere. I was close to losing my temper,” she continued. “I refuse to put my daughter in a situation where her self-esteem is completely destroyed. This whole time she was missing out on an education while we were all sitting in a room discussing her boobs.”
Barber and Anderson plan to seek legal action against the school, which so far seems to have condemned the wrongful accusation. “Our staff conduct policy requires all staff members to maintain courteous and professional relationships with students,” said a spokeswoman for the Joplin School District. “This incident is being investigated by the administration to determine if this policy has been violated.”
Investigation or not, no girl should be called out – not by any sort of authority figure, male or female – for their figure or their clothing choices.
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