Dear Dr Tracey Jones,
I read this week that you have banned tight skirts at your school. A move I would normally have applauded, for a school is not the place where teenage legs should be sexualized and on show. However, your reason was because tight skirts lead to the bullying of ‘hefty’ girls and you’d like this to stop. And again, I would normally agree that bullying does need to be stopped, at all costs, but I have to wonder that if in saying you are banning short skirts because larger girls might get bullied, you are not in fact taking a stand against bullies, but putting the onus on the larger girls for inviting such criticism. You are encouraging the misconception that girls should be judged for the way they look.
Would you also tell these girls that dressing skimpily invites rape? That if it happened to them that it was their fault for not dressing more modestly?
If I were one of these girls I would have to wonder why the Head teacher of my school was demanding I change, instead of tackling the problem where it truly lies and dealing with the bullies.
At no point do I agree with the over sexualisation of teens, a very real and present issue, but the problem does not only stem from how girls dress. It is a much wider and more damaging issue and one that a Head teacher of all people should address.
What are you doing to tackle this issue other than sending girls who do not adhere to your new rule home to change into baggier clothing? Are you educating the young men in your school about how to respect women regardless of their size, or how they dress? Are you giving the bullies consequences? Explaining to them the permanent damage that can be done from their actions? Teenagers of both sexes are vulnerable and learn about life as an adult through those they spend time with, and who are often in a position of authority and so you have a huge responsibility to lead by example, and not blame overweight girls in tight skirts for the abominable behaviour of bullies, who themselves are behaving in a way they may have been led to believe is appropriate for men. Are the boys subject to such rigid dress codes?
You have perpetuated hideous gender roles through your actions. Making the girls be the one who change is unacceptable. You say dressing demurely is an old fashioned concept, but I argue that the way you’ve dealt with this issue is also that.
Think carefully about the lesson you’ve taught the children you lead through your recent actions. Do they still seem like the right ones?
From, Me x