Grade school dress codes are inherently sexist. The rules are meant to be followed by both girls and boys, yet most of the codes are restrictive specifically towards women’s clothing. Graduating high school senior Victoria (Tori) DiPaolo spent most of her four years at West Milford High School in New Jersey, fighting the administration on dress code and bringing awareness to the sexist aspects of the code.
Her dress code at West Milford High, along with many other high schools and middle schools across the country, forbids students from wearing: halters, crop tops, shorts that do not pass the “fingertip” rule, muscle shirts, loose fitting clothing, sweaters, tank tops, and blouses that expose the breasts or shoulders, etc.
Typically, high school senior girls are instructed to wear a formal, black, off the shoulder blouse for their senior picture. Isn’t it ironic that these girls are required to be pictured in an outfit that violates their own school’s dress code? Well, Tori used this hypocrisy to her advantage.
As her “final jab,” Tori called out her school, and basically every other US public school, through her senior quote which was included under her picture in the yearbook.
The quote reads: “I’m sorry, did my shoulders distract you from reading this quote?”
Tori tweeted a picture of the quote after receiving her yearbook, where it received more than 1,500 likes and 600 retweets.
“I just found it funny that the outfits for senior portraits technically violated the dress code by exposing our shoulders, so I saw my opportunity and ran with it,” says Tori. “Over the past four years, myself and many of my friends have received dress code violations for clothes that were nowhere near inappropriate. I became a bit infamous around school for fighting the administration about dress code, so I figured I’d use my senior quote as one final jab.”
Tori’s peers and teachers reacted positively to the quote and thought it was funny. She says a lot of her friends shared the Twitter post because they all found it to be fitting of how they felt about their school’s dress code.
Of course, certain dress codes in grade school is necessary, because these students are still minors. However, when girls are targeted and shamed for exposing parts of their bodies that are “distracting,” the dress code causes more harm than good.
“My school’s dress code prohibits boys from wearing muscle shirts, but they do it all the time and don’t get in trouble, yet when my bra strap accidentally slips I have to miss class time to go change,” says Tori. “I just think dress codes need to be enforced on both genders if you’re going to choose to have one.”
Tori is an AP student who is in academic clubs along with being a member of the tennis team. She is not exactly a delinquent, but is treated as such when her outfit is deemed “distracting” by the administration. Who exactly are shoulders distracting to? The middle-aged male teacher or the teenage boy? Perhaps it is time to start teaching men how on how to control themselves when faced with the female body, rather than teach women that they should be ashamed of themselves and cover up.
Cheers to Tori DiPaolo for sticking up for herself and the other girls at her school and bringing attention to sexist dress code that affects every public school in the US.
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