Suit Of Shame: How Women Around The World Fight Dress Code

A life 2023

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Suit Of Shame: How Women Around The World Fight Dress Code
Suit Of Shame: How Women Around The World Fight Dress Code
Video: Suit Of Shame: How Women Around The World Fight Dress Code
Video: Dress Code - Dress Code 2023, February

In 1938, an American kindergarten teacher Helen Hulick arrived at a Los Angeles court to testify in a theft case. But when she appeared in the courtroom, many in attendance turned against her more than against the defendants. The fact is that Hulick was in trousers, and at that time the court dress code assumed only skirts for women. The judge postponed the hearing several times, demanding that Hulick return in a "proper" form, but in the end he could not stand it and sent her under arrest for five days.

More than eighty years have passed since then. It would seem that women have long won back their right to wear anything. But dress codes still exist and often remain as sexist and absurd as they were before the war. We will tell you how modern women are fighting for the right to choose what clothes they wear.


Yulia Dudkina


Clavicle freedom

In 2014, Miranda Larkin from Florida moved to a new school. She and her family had just moved in and had no friends in the neighborhood yet. Larkin had studied for only three days and had not yet had time to get used to her classmates and teachers - the girl felt insecure and was very worried. Things got much worse when she was caught violating the dress code and forced to wear a "suit of shame."

“It happened after the first lesson,” Larkin said. - In the corridor, the teacher stopped me and said that my skirt was too short. I was sent to the nurse's office, and there they gave me special clothes for the offenders. " It was a giant neon yellow T-shirt with "Dress Code Violation" written on it, and sweatpants - also labeled. “I was told the task was to shame me,” Larkin recalled. "So that I never want to wear the 'wrong' clothes again."

The shirt and pants were too big for the girl, she felt uncomfortable and called her mother to tell her about the incident. She, having learned that her daughter was being humiliated, first went to the headmaster and tried to talk to him personally. But he did not admit any guilt in the school, and then Miranda's mother told reporters about everything and publicly announced that she would be suing the school. The woman explained to the journalists: “I am not against school uniforms, and those who do not follow the dress code should be held accountable for their actions. But I am against people being publicly humiliated."

In the end, the school district press secretary had to make excuses to reporters and reassure them that the agency was “looking for other solutions” to combat dress code violations. As far as we know, after Miranda Larkin, the students at her school no longer wore the "suit of shame".

The main points of the dress code usually concern girls: the length of skirts, cutouts on clothes, cosmetics are controlled

and the number of decorations

The war of adolescents for freedom to wear whatever they want at school has been waged for decades. For example, in the States, a court officially allowed schools to establish a dress code in 1969. That same year, a group of Michigan schoolchildren formed a dress code committee and contacted the local education authority. Schoolgirl Kelly Holland spoke on behalf of the committee. She stated that the dress code at her school is inflexible and inadequate. Holland put forward the main requirements: to allow girls to wear short skirts and boys to wear long hair. At that time, the rules of the school dress code were quite strict in this regard: skirts could be only five centimeters above the knee, and the hair of young men could not go down below the middle of the ear.

The education council told the students to go home. They were assured that the school dress code would work. And they themselves, if they want, can try to form a squad and help the director catch violators of the dress code - perhaps this way they will understand how important and hard work it is.

Indeed, the dress code is still valid around the world. In Russia, any school can set rules or appoint a school uniform at its discretion. British and French schoolchildren practically all wear the same uniform, each educational institution has its own traditional outfit. In the United States, private schools have a uniform, while public schools have a dress code with a bunch of restrictions. As in 1969, protests break out over them every now and then. As a rule, we are not even talking about the dress code itself, but about sexist dress codes and violation of students' rights. The main points of the dress code usually concern girls: the length of skirts, cutouts on clothes, cosmetics and the amount of jewelry are controlled. Young people have much less difficulties: in some institutions they are forbidden to wear shorts, but more often there is no moralizing and sexist motives in this. But girls are asked to dress "modestly" under the pretext of chastity and "so that the boys are not distracted."

In 2015, American Stacy Dunn from Kentucky posted a photo of her daughter in jeans, a T-shirt and a cardigan on Facebook. “I had to go to school because, according to the principal, my daughter looked out of place,” the woman explained. - When I got to school, I saw a whole group of female students, who were also summoned to the principal for violating the dress code. This is ridiculous!" Her record has collected 45 thousand shares. Dunn described how she tried to discuss unfair demands with the school, but it turned out that when girls have collarbones visible, it "distracts young people" from the lessons.

Lizzie Martinez was sent to the dean's office. There she was first forced to jump to prove that her breasts "move" without a bra, and then they gave her a plaster "to stick on her nipples."

When this story first got to the press, the administration of the school in Kentucky made the excuse that they had nothing against the collarbones - this is just a formality. But in the end, after the massive publicity, the director called Stacy Dunn, who stood up for her daughter, and invited her to a meeting. He offered to help her create a new dress code - "realistic and professional."

In addition to collarbones and skirts, underwear often becomes a problem in the relationship of schoolgirls with the administration. In 2018, Lizzie Martinez from Florida was humiliated for not wearing a bra. The day before, she was badly burned in the sun and decided to wear a loose T-shirt, without putting anything under it that could irritate the skin.

The dress code of her school did not say a word about underwear and there was no direct prohibition on its absence. Nevertheless, the teacher kicked Lizzie out of the class. “She told me that I couldn't be in class because I was supposedly distracting the boys,” Martinez said. "That is, their education seems to be more important than mine." The problems did not end there - the girl was sent to the dean's office. There she was first forced to jump to prove that her breasts “move” without a bra, and then they gave her a plaster “to stick on her nipples”.

Although Lizzie was kicked out to “not distract the boys,” she herself spent two hours in derogatory explanations with the dean. In her own words, she was upset and stressed out and this unsettled her for more than a week.

According to Ava Emilion, no one at school

did not explain to boys that girls dress for themselves and they are not a sexual object to be distracted by

After consulting, Lizzie and her mother decided that they would not leave this story just like that. They made sure that she got into the mainstream media. In their interviews, mom and daughter said that dress code requirements do not help, but, on the contrary, sexualize schoolgirls. The American Civil Liberties Union intervened, and eventually the school administration promised to take action.

One of the most striking cases of modern protest against the school dress code is a flash mob of girls from the South Orange School in New Jersey.In this school, the rules did not differ much from the usual ones: skirts and shorts should not end above the tips of the fingers of lowered hands, and clothes cannot expose underwear and intimate parts of the body. But, according to the students, they were outraged by the form in which this information was presented. Their parents were constantly receiving emails saying that bare shoulders and short skirts distracted the boys from their studies. The announcer said the same on the school radio.

Several schoolgirls decided to form a coalition against school rules. They stated that school rhetoric supports a culture of violence and the idea that it is the woman who should be responsible for the attention and behavior of the man. “When the school administration tells us that we should dress so as not to distract the boys, they kind of tell us that we have to change ourselves,” explained Ava Emilion, one of the activists. At the same time, according to her, no one at school explained to the boys that girls dress for themselves and they are not a sexual object to be distracted by. Schoolgirls launched an online flash mob with the hashtag #Iammorethandistraction - "I'm not just a hindrance." They shared their photos in different outfits and explained why the school shouldn't control their outfits. For example: "It's summer now, and I shouldn't wear clothes up to my toes just so you don't get distracted" or "If you send a girl home over her bare shoulder, you tell her that the boys' 'calmness' is more important than her education."

The flash mob was supported by schoolgirls from different states and cities. Girls from the city of Charleston in North Carolina staged a spectacular action. They wrote the slogan "Not A Distraction" on the T-shirts with the letter A highlighted in red - so they made a reference to the novel "The Scarlet Letter". In it, the heroine suffers from the puritanical morals of her environment and all her life wears a scarlet letter A on her chest - a sign that she gave birth to a child outside of an official marriage. This is a tragic novel, which is usually held in schools in the USA, and which raises the issue of misogyny and slut-shaming. On September 24, 2015, one hundred schoolgirls came to class with scarlet letters.


After school

Many teenagers are waiting for graduation to gain freedom and independence. They are also happy that no one else will ever tell them how to look and what to wear. Indeed, in many offices today there are dress codes, but, as a rule, the emphasis in them is on the formal style. Grown women are usually not reprimanded for distracting men.

But there is another problem - in many companies, women are still considered primarily a "decoration of the team", and they are required to always come to work in heels. For example, in 2016, Nicola Thorpe, a temporary worker at Portico in London, came to work in flat-soled boats. Portico was outsourcing recruiting for large companies, and Thorpe was supposed to start working at the front desk of the financial corporation PwC that day. She had to stand on her feet all day, meet guests and escort them along the corridors. Therefore, she decided to wear comfortable shoes - the one that will allow her to effectively cope with tasks until the evening.

It was her first day at work, but as soon as she arrived at the office, the administrator from Portico told her to go home and added that she would not receive a salary for that day. It was explained to her that it was the policy of the company - women should work in heels from five to ten centimeters high. Thorpe tried to argue with the receptionist, but he said that her only chance to stay at work that day was to immediately go to a shoe store and buy herself the right shoes. When the girl was outraged that there were no such strict rules for men, she was told: "It would be crazy to make men wear heels." “When I told the receptionist it was discrimination, he laughed,” Thorpe recalled.

She ended up going home and created an online petition to ban companies from including heels in their dress code. She was supported by 152.5 thousand people. Members of the British Parliament were among the people who signed the petition. And if at first the Portico company declared that high-heeled shoes were an important element of the image for employees, then in the end the agency had to change its policy. Portico announced that all female employees can wear flat shoes, and the firm's director, Simon Pratt, said he is "committed to providing all workers with an equal opportunity."

Thorpe tried to argue

with the administrator, but he said that her only chance to stay at work that day was to buy herself the right shoes

However, Thorpe did not stop there. Her main profession is an actress, and in between roles she often has to earn extra money as a secretary or a receptionist. After defeating the heels, she announced that she would take up makeup. According to her, the Portico agency has only a few permitted colors in which you can paint your nails, and you cannot come to work without makeup. She faced similar rules with other employers. "Cosmetics are designed to make women 'attractive', not more professional," says Thorpe. "It's strange that companies are interested not in the quality of their employees' work, but in their appearance."

A similar story happened in Japan in 2019, but mass protests there have not yet brought much success. Actress Yumi Ishikawa, like her British counterpart, got a job at a funeral home between filming. There she was forced to wear high heels. The actress launched the hashtag #KuToo, a word that combines the Japanese words for shoes and torment. Under the hashtag, Japanese women, who often have to wear shoes in offices, began to post about how such shoes are harmful to health, photos of their corns and abrasions.

Yumi Ishikawa has created a petition to ban the inclusion of shoes in the dress code of companies. She was supported by almost 20 thousand people. According to Ishikawa herself, high heels are a cultural norm in Japanese office life, and she hopes to change that norm. But, most likely, the actress will have to go to her goal for a long time. In June, the Japanese labor minister finally commented on the #KuToo situation, saying he considered heels "essential" for women to work. “This is a socially acceptable and appropriate element of the dress code,” said Takumi Nemoto.

It's not just women who oppose heels in the women's dress code. In 2016, Swedish carpenter Emil Andersson, inspired by the struggle of Nikola Thorpe, recorded a video of how he works in heels: he walks on a construction site, glues wallpaper, communicates with colleagues. Not only does all this in itself look pretty comical, the man also comments on his feelings. For example, at the end of the day, he admits that his body is shaking - after all, heels increase muscle tension. Although the video seems funny, its message is serious. Andersson explains that it is ridiculous to force people to do work with uncomfortable shoes.


Hands off my clothes

Azam Jhangrawi climbed the transformer pole and heard people shouting below. She knew that as soon as she went downstairs, she would be immediately arrested. But she kept repeating to herself: "Your daughter will not grow up in the same country." Climbing higher, she took off her headscarf and began to wave it. Downstairs they screamed even more.

“I kept repeating to myself, 'You can do it,'” Jhangravi later recalled. "At that moment, I felt a special power, as if I no longer belonged to the secondary sex."

When Jhangrawi came down, she was immediately handcuffed. She was later fired from her job at a research center and sentenced to three years in prison for "promoting obscenity" and "moderate violation of Islamic law." They were going to deprive her of her parental rights, but Jangrawi managed to escape from the country. Now she is in a safe place and is awaiting a decision on granting her political asylum.

Dress code is an unpleasant but temporary measure that must be observed during the work week, but in some countries and cultures there are dress restrictions that never end. For example, in Iran, after the Islamic Revolution in 1979, women were obliged to wear headscarves. There are cases when women who did not follow the dress code were stoned in the streets. Every year dozens of Iranian women try to protest against the cruel and inconvenient law. At best, they face a fine, at worst - death by lynching. For example, in February 2018, police detained 29 Iranian women who took to the streets and took off their hijabs during the White Wednesday action. Later, activist Shapark Shahrizadeh was sentenced to twenty years for openly opposing mandatory headwear and removing her headscarf in a public place.

Now the rules have softened a little - in 2017, the authorities decided that they would no longer arrest Tehran residents for violating the dress code. But this applies only to women in the capital and those who have been guilty only once. Violent offenders continue to face imprisonment.

Shapark Shahrizadeh activist was sentenced to twenty years for openly opposing mandatory headwear and taking off her headscarf in a public place

One of the most famous cases of protest against the hijab is the act of Sadaf Khadem, a boxer from Iran. She broke all the rules of her country at once. Khadem once worked as a fitness instructor in Tehran, but she always dreamed of practicing martial arts. She boxed on her own, at home. But in March 2019, she flew to France and began to study with a male trainer. A month later, her first international fight took place - she fought with the Frenchwoman Anne Chauvin and won.

“I participated in an absolutely legal boxing match in France, but by entering the ring in shorts and a sleeveless jacket, I violated the foundations of my state. Yes, I didn’t wear a hijab and I was trained by a man, so some have a skeptical opinion about this,”Khadem said after the fight. She knew that she was facing a prison sentence at home, and she was right - at home, the police received a warrant for her arrest. Like her compatriot Azam Jangrawi, Khadem decided not to return.

It's not just Iranian women who oppose the Islamic dress code. For example, in Istanbul in 2017, hundreds of women marched under the slogan "Hands off my clothes!" They carried hangers with denim shorts high above their heads. The marchers marched through the more conservative Asian side of Istanbul, where women dressed in non-Islamic dress codes have often been attacked in recent years. The protesters chanted: "We will not obey, be silent and afraid." Many of them wore miniskirts and shorts, but there were also women in headscarves among the participants in the march. They explained: “It's not that we don't want to wear headscarves and hijabs. It's just that everyone has the right to decide for herself whether to wear it or not, and no one has the right to tell her."

Even in Saudi Arabia, where strict patriarchal morals reign and protests are extremely rare, in recent years women have begun to oppose their clothes being controlled. Unlike their Turkish counterparts, they could hardly have marched around town with denim shorts. Their protest became quieter, but still impressive. In 2018, some Saudis began to turn their abayas inside out. They had a special hashtag #insideuotabaya, under which they posted their photos in the “wrong” clothes. Many of them complained that it was inconvenient for them to spend the whole working day with a closed face, but the bosses force them to do this, because there are men in the teams.

PHOTOS: thexfilephoto -, Deyan Georgiev -, Mandrixta -


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