I've just read an article about how black girls are disciplined more harshly for their school uniforms than white girls. According to theRoot.com, the National Women's Law Center recently looked at school dress codes in Washington, D.C., and found that black girls are punished over their school uniforms more than their Caucasian peers. It even states that black girls were found to be in violation of dress code for infractions such as "unladylike," "inappropriate," and a "distraction to the boys." The article also states that teachers have even sent young black girls home because their physique is curvier than most of their peers. Some of these young girls have even shared that teachers have come up to them and discussed their undergarments, to the point of asking if they are wearing a bra! It is to the point where these girls' education is hindered because of these violations and punishments.
Stories like this are not uncommon. More and more stories like this are shared online, and privately. Last year, in Miami, FL, a group of high school dancers (members of a well known dance company) performed at a high school football game. The girls performed at various events before, but this particular performance went viral because not only were they judged for their dance routines, but also judged even harder for their dance attire.
I tried to find some clearer pictures, but these were the best that I could find. According to the dance instructor, Traci Young-Byron, these costumes were actually inspired by Kitana from Mortal Kombat.
Although the costumes were very creative, parents (not the parents of the dancers) were outraged. Here are some the actual comments (some comments came from blogs, while others were actually shared from people on social media) that were made about these girls:
- "I'm old fashion, but these girls look too sexy!"
- "These girls look like they're wearing lingerie!"
- "So, we're raising our girls to be strippers?!"
- "These girls look like little prostitutes!"
- "If that was my child, I would take her off the field and beat her a$$!"
- "These girls should not be wearing this at such a young age. They're attracting the wrong attention."
What people failed to realize is that:
- These girls were honor students at their high schools and already had full scholarships in place for college.
- THEY WERE THE ONES SEXUALIZING THESE YOUNG GIRLS!
- There are plenty of Caucasian girls, majority who are much younger than these high school girls, who wear much less, but nothing is said about their attire.
When these girls' attire went viral, I loved their outfits. I felt they were very creative, but I was very upset at the fact that these girls were being sexualized over their attire. It is a dance costume. It is not like these girls are wearing these costumes to school or church. I was happy that the dance instructor made a point to say the reason for the backlash of the attire was because the girls were black, and also shared pictures of Caucasian dancers in attire more revealing than her dancers. Another thing that made me angry was that everyone called them "little strippers," "strippers in training," or "young whores!" Why would anyone call a child that? Is it because she has a shape? What makes me angry is that it is always our girls that are punished for their body shapes; it is always our girls who are always sexualized; and it is always our girls who have to tone down their attire because of what other people may think of them. Stories like this makes me angry because it hits home for me. This very same thing happened to me at a young age.
I was 12, and just starting seventh grade. By this time, my bust had grown quite large, and on the first day of school, my teacher came to me and questioned me about a shirt I was wearing (the shirt was buttoned-down). She asked if I had planned on wearing my shirt again, and when I told her yes with a confused look on my face, she said with an attitude, "Well sweetheart, if you plan on wearing that shirt again, you need to get it together!" On the third day of school, I wore an outfit that I had purchased on my summer vacation in New Orleans. My mom had checked the student handbook, and we both read where skirts could be worn up to three inches above the knee. My mom measured the skirt, and it was EXACTLY three inches above the knee.
I went to school, and nothing was said to me 1st through 5th period, but when I arrived to my 6th period class, I went to sharpen my pencil. Well, when I sat down, the tardy bell rang. My teacher (the same teacher that said something about my shirt) came to me and told me to stand up. I asked why, and she gave no explanation. I stood up, and she made me turn around so the whole class could see me, and then said, "Your skirt is too short. Come follow me." When I told her that my mom and I read the handbook and it stated that the skirt could be worn up to three inches above the knee, and that my skirt was exactly three inches above my knee, she shockingly said "You and your mom ACTUALLY READ THE HANDBOOK?!" I told her yes! I follow her to my other teacher's room, which was next door. She says out loud, "Her skirt is too short!" She then makes me stand in front of the other teacher's classroom, turn around so the class could see how short my skirt was from behind (all of the boys were whistling), and both teachers are in agreement that my skirt was too short. She also tells the other teacher that my mom and I actually read the handbook and repeated what I said about the skirt. They are amazed that my mom and I actually read the handbook for some strange reason. At this point, I'm so humiliated that I start crying in front of the class. The teacher then takes me back to our classroom and proceeds to give me a demerit. She calls my mom to see if she could bring me some clothes, but my mom is unable to come to the phone. Not only does she send me to the office, but I can't even eat lunch.
On the way to the office, we run into the principal. I'm already crying from embarrassment, but she tries to make me turn around in front of him. I told her that she has humiliated me enough, and she's not going to do it again. The principal starts yelling at me that I knew my skirt was too short before I thought about wearing it to school. When I explained the rule in the handbook about skirts, he says, "YOU READ THE HANDBOOK?!" By this time, I'm looking at both of them crazy and I ask why is everyone shocked that I read the handbook. When I go to the office, the assistant principal, who is a member of my church, sees me in the office. He asks why am I in there. I tell him what happened, and he is angry. When I tell him that I didn't eat lunch, he is even more angry, and walks out of the office. He then comes back with a sack lunch and hands it to me. He tells me to stop crying, and that everything is going to be okay. When I came home, I told my mom everything that happened. She's angry that it happened, but she's even more angry when another teacher told her about it. The next day, my Caucasian classmate came to class with shorts on that looked like underwear. Before I knew it, the class was like, "Are you going to send that girl to the office for her shorts? You sent Ashley to the office, and she had to stay in the office all day because of her skirt! She wasn't even able to stay in class because you said that her skirt was too short!" THE TEACHER ACTUALLY TRIED TO JUSTIFY THE FACT THAT THIS GIRL HAD ON SHORT SHORTS! She said although her shorts are very short, my skirt showed more of my curves, while the other girl's shorts didn't show her curves (LIE). Everyone in the class told the teacher that she was wrong for sending me to the office, but was allowing this girl to stay in the classroom. The teacher says, "Fine!" Then, turns to the girl and says, "I'm sorry, but you're going to have to call your mom so you can change your shorts, or I'm going to have to send you to the office." She lets the girl call her mother, and her mother comes to the school with long pants for her to wear. My peers are still upset about this. My mom talked to the teachers about their actions, and they apologized, but that did not stop them from picking on me for my attire. It had gotten to the point where I started wearing clothes that were two to three sizes too large for me, and the conversations went from my clothes being too short to the teachers asking if my parents knew my clothing size! They didn't want to own the fact that they were the reason why I became self-conscious of my body.
Seventh and eighth grade were tough for me because of what I endured, so when I see stories like this, it makes my blood boil. Why can't people see black girls as people and not the shape of their bodies? We wear the same clothing as everyone else. NO ONE should be punished for their physique! I really hope this double standard with black girls bodies change very soon. It is ridiculous that black girls are policed and punished because of their figures.
Until Next Time!