What should a mom do when a teacher tells her middle school daughter that her denim skirt is for “clubbing”?
Suzie Webster’s 12-year-old daughter Reese was humiliated and sent to the principal’s office for wearing a denim skirt that was considered too short. She took to the Internet to do what a mom does best: give her daughter what was taken from her. Suzie made an effort to give back her dignity, confidence, and voice.
She shared her experience in a Facebook post, which now has over 1,000 likes. Suzie says, “I don’t know too many women who wear a boxy t-shirt and an a-line preppy denim skirt to go clubbing. Perhaps it was her scandalous ankle boots.” The school apparently never got the memo that we’re no longer living in 1925.
She goes on to say that Reese’s principal even took out a ruler to see if her skirt was 5″ from her knee, which it was. He allowed Reese to continue wearing her skirt but she, by this time, was too embarrassed and asked to change into pants. “While Reese was changing, her principal, Mr. Cumberback, started to explain to me that it was necessary to closely monitor the girls attire because boys at this age get very distracted by the girls and their appearance. So in order to control this, they needed to make sure the skirts were long enough,” says Suzie. She continues with, “SO MY DAUGHTER WAS EMBARRASSED, HUMILIATED IN FRONT OF HER PEERS AND MADE TO FEEL LIKE A BAD GIRL BECAUSE BOYS CAN’T CONTROL THEIR DIRTY THOUGHTS!”
The repugnant notion that girls are responsible for boys’ thoughts and behaviors perpetuates a culture in which girls are objectified as sexual objects. It is unbelievable that Reese was being taught this — a notion as antiquated as the practice of measuring skirts. I should know because when I was a young girl, around Reese’s age, all the girls in school would routinely be subjected to these same “skirt checks.” It was merely part of the school routine.
What did this test teach me? That the length of my skirt bore no bearing on me as a person nor should it for the young man sitting next to me on the bus. It taught me that I wanted to be a strong woman who would teach my son that only he, and he alone, was responsible for being a gentleman — when riding a bus, sitting next to that young girl, who could be a mother or a sister. It taught me that I wanted to be a strong woman who would nurture my daughter’s voice.
I am fiercely proud of being part of a new generation of strong, confident women who have absolutely no interest in becoming fine, young ladies. That is the most important thing that public skirt shaming has taught me.
When Suzie Webster wrote the Facebook post, she gave back what had been stolen from Reese — her voice and her right to say “no.” And she declared that enough is enough.More On