‘Here are the specifications you have to work with. I wish you loads of luck.’
Sexist school dress codes: They just won’t go away.
Girls all over the country are routinely targeted and disciplined for wearing yoga pants, shorts, skirts, and tops deemed “inappropriate,” or worse, “distracting.”
Outrage over these policies swells each school year, and while some school districts have taken action, the overwhelming majority still treat teen boys with kid gloves (they mustn’t be tempted!) and punish girls for it.
This year, one mom is taking an interesting approach: She’s inviting her daughter’s principal to take her shopping.
Catherine Pearlman wrote on Today that her middle-school-age daughter was sent home two days in a row for dressing “inappropriately.”
In an open letter to the school’s principal, Pearlman doesn’t come off as angry so much as exasperated (with more than a hint of sarcasm).
“To reward you for treating my daughter with such concern, I am cordially inviting you to take my daughter shopping,” she wrote.
It might sound simple to old-fashioned (and, frankly, often male) administrators to pick up some clothes that fit the dress code. But oh how wrong they are.
“Here are the specifications you have to work with. I wish you loads of luck.
She is 5’7” and 13 years old. Built more like her father, she has exceptionally long legs and arms.
She doesn’t like anything pink or purple or frilly.
She won’t wear pants because she gets overheated easily. Trust me I’ve seen this. It will cause a scene in the school yard.
She absolutely will not wear a dress either.”
Doesn’t sound too hard, right? We’re not done.
“No item of clothing can have a logo visible because to her that’s not cool. She will however, wear any type of superhero, Green Day or USFL T-shirt if you can find them. You might be able to try for an occasional Beatles reference but that’s touch and go.
Now, don’t forget that you will have to find something in the stores that also meets with your dress code requirements. Here are the tricky areas that are most difficult to avoid. As per your policy she cannot wear tank tops. Shorts and skirts must not extend to the end of the fingertips (This is a toughie.)
So, if I were you (and I’m glad I’m not) I’d focus on the shorts first. She has very long fingers which seems to make finding shorts that won’t get her sent to the principal’s office impossible (On the bright side the piano teacher says those fingers are an asset.). I’d schedule a few afternoons and weekends for this endeavor. I can tell you from experience that just heading to the mall, Target and the outlets won’t cut it. Not much for her there. I’ve already checked.
One last point: please try to stay within a reasonable budget. We can’t spend a fortune on her wardrobe. She is still growing after all.”
The letter struck a chord with parents of teen and preteen girls everywhere, quickly going viral.
“We got a lot of letters from moms of very tall girls saying, ‘Thank you so much,'” Pearlman says in a phone interview. “This is a true, difficult problem.”
No word on whether the principal will take Pearlman up on her offer — she says she didn’t send the letter to the school but expects they’ll hear about it eventually. She also says she’s talked to them about the dress code in the past. But kudos to Pearlman for bringing some more attention to an important issue.
Let’s stop making young girls and their parents jump through extraordinary hoops to find “appropriate” clothes, and instead focus on creating learning environments where everyone can dress comfortably and do what they’re there to do: learn.