30 Mayo 2017 17:14
It seems her shorts were too short. Or her fingers too long
‘I invite you to take my daughter shopping,’ the outraged mother suggests in her letter.
‘Dear Principal, thank you for sending a note home for the second day in a row to say my daughter was dressed inappropriately for school.’ That is how the letter begins from a mother to the principal of her daughter’s school, which has since gone viral. The 13-year-old girl was apparently dressed inappropriately. According to school regulations at least.
The problem: shorts that were… too short. Or could it have been her fingers that were too long? Absurdly, the school justified its decision saying that the hemline of her shorts ‘does not reach her fingertips.’
‘I invite you to take my daughter shopping,’ the outraged mother suggests, arguing that it is no easy task to adhere to the absurd conditions imposed by the school. Even less so if you consider the importance of respecting her teenage daughter’s wishes; what really matters in a situation such as this.
The girl, for example, ‘will not wear a dress or a skirt and loves wearing any type of superhero or Green Day t-shirt,’ as the mother clearly states in her letter; we know whose side we’re on.
‘Thank you for making it clear to my daughter that her body is somehow a distraction, either to herself or to the boys. I thought she might have missed the message earlier in the year when the gym teacher told her she couldn't wear yoga pants because the boys aren't able to control themselves,’ continues the mother ironically. She also adds, with a touch of humour, that the girl’s ‘excessively long’ fingers -according to the college- have been described as an asset by her piano teacher.
The reason the letter has gone viral is that it highlights something which has grown increasingly visible for some time now: clothing restrictions in schools are much stricter for girls than for boys. In fact, stories of boys being expelled for wearing shorts that are too short, too tight or excessively provocative are practically unheard of.
If we consider the other way around, however, the examples are endless: like the 12-year-old girl who was turned away from a chess tournament because her dress was too ‘seductive’; or another student, expelled for wearing a skirt that was too black and too long; or yet another who was kicked out of a gym for dressing provocatively.
Behind these restrictions lies the same issue as always: the hypersexualization of our bodies.
The patriarchy we live in, under the pretext of upholding the public peace or, rather, not distracting men, is imposing its own rules, perpetuating the idea that a woman’s body is public property. Our male-chauvinist society has endorsed a whole series of rights, which it has never actually been granted; such as that of regulating our bodies through the clothes we wear. They are the ones who tell us when we are dressed appropriately and when we’re not, when we’re sexy and when we’re not, when we should show restraint and when we shouldn’t. So, what can we can take from this? The idea that we are never just a body, disassociated from any kind of political connotation. Right from childhood, our bodies are ‘eroticised’, so they can then be controlled.