Nothing gets boys thinking impure thoughts like the luscious curves of a girl’s shoulders, amirite? At least, that seems to be the thinking behind ridiculous dress codes that sexualize girls’ body parts and blame girls for whatever nasty yet totally normal thoughts teen boys might have.
Utah teen Gabi Finlayson idolizes Audrey Hepburn — the very portrait of grace and class. When she was in Paris, she bought a dress that reminded her of Hepburn’s style. She chose the sweet, tea-length gown to wear to her school dance and even had it altered to make sure the bodice didn’t expose too much skin.
Gabi didn’t get to wear the special dress from Paris to the school dance. A school official stopped her and told her that her shoulders needed to be covered up. Her only option was to return to her car for a heavy winter coat.
It sounds like the plot of a teen movie. All her excitement and anticipation was shot down in an instant and replaced with shame and embarrassment.
Now, Gabi is speaking up. “Maybe instead of teaching girls they should cover themselves up, we should be teaching boys that we’re not just sex objects that you can look at,” says the remarkably well-spoken 15-year-old.
“The message that sends to girls is really troubling and damaging,” says Gabi’s mom, Kristy Kimball. She’s absolutely right. Girls shouldn’t be told their bodies are shameful. Exposed backs and shoulders aren’t going to cause a high school sex riot.
These kinds of arbitrarily enforced dress codes also create tension among female students. Gabi pointed out that there were many other girls at the dance wearing shorter or more revealing dresses. It’s awful that she had to look and compare. Every student attending should have been focused on the jitters and silly romance of a high school dance, not disgusting policing of girls’ clothing for the sake of incredibly outdated notions of decency.
More on dress codes
School dress codes are officially out of control when girls in floor-length gowns are barred from dances
This mother has every right to file a complaint over daughter being forced to wear ‘shame suit’ at school
School superintendent under fire for calling girls a nasty name over dress code violations