Teenager Fights Back Against Dress Code That "Shames" Girls' Bodies

Somebody get this girl a medal. Lindsay Stock, a 15-year-old student in Quebec, recently ran into trouble for protesting a school dress code that shamed teen girls about their clothing.

Stock’s stand began when two school officials walked into her 11th grad classroom and asked them to measure the length of their shorts by pressing their arms to their sides. If the shorts weren’t longer than their fingertips, the students were asked to change clothes. (An incredibly arbitrary rule, given that the ratio of fingertips to shorts hem is not something straightforward in growing women.)

Stock created a media firestorm with her protest.

Stock created a media firestorm with her protest.

Stock refused. “When I started explaining why I didn’t understand that rule, they didn’t really want to hear anything I had to say, and it was in front of my entire class,” she told Canada’s CBC. “I felt very attacked.”

Rather than slink off and sulk, Stock mounted a protest. She printed out signs and posted them throughout the school. Her message was simple: “Don’t humiliate her because she’s wearing shorts. It’s hot outside. Instead of shaming girls for their bodies, teach boys that girls are not sexual objects.”

Stock was suspended for the day, but her signs sparked a local media firestorm.

“They should approach [the dress code] in a way that doesn’t target girls at least—for starters—because that’s the first problem,” Stock told the CBC. “They don’t really care what guys wear. They just kind of target the girls first.”

Dress codes are usually aimed at policing women’s clothing, not men’s and they are also so routine. and outdated. I vividly recall sulking about my high school’s ban on spaghetti straps and shorts.

But Stock’s message is one that everyone should hear. Blaming young women’s clothing choices is an irrational response to the larger problem, which is a culture treating women as if they are responsible for any sexual harassment they encounter. Stock’s stand is no small thing. It’s a poignant reminder of just how ingrained and insidious the culture of body shaming really is.

 

(Photos via CBC, Shutterstock)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=543999422 Paula Beaton

    I’m not sure how I feel about this article. Whilst I agree that women should be able to wear what they want, we always had a dress code in place at my school – yes, the laws were a little outdated (I remember we had to kneel down and if our skirts hit more than an inch above our knees it was considered too short), but then I was at a private all girls school. I sort of think that these rules exist to protect girls and women, so they’re a positive thing. If I had children I wouldn’t want them going to school in tiny hotpants or really short denim cutoffs. That has nothing to do with hot weather. You can wear longer shorts or skirts in hot weather and be just as cool. So I guess I disagree with most of this article!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=543999422 Paula Beaton

    Having said that I do think young boys need to be taught to be respectful of women and not view them as “objects” – I think more modest dress codes are sometimes a way to assist with this. But maybe I have old fashioned views and it’s interesting to read the author’s opinions.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=503046023 Rachel Holmberg

    I am so tired of one sided “reporting.” To have the school system made out to be the bad guy in this situation is unfair and just more poor journalism of this generation.
    I’m sorry sweetie, but no, she was not shamed, she was not targeted and she was not attacked. While the school administration should have done the check somewhere other than in front of a whole classroom; she is blissfully unaware of the fact that in life you have dress codes in the workplace so why would your school experience not prepare you for that? I’m rather bored with all the women who feel like basic preparedness for life is holding them back and thinking that men are not held to the same standard. Boys cannot wear hats in the classrooms because, guess what, you can’t do that in the workplace! Young men are held to a general standard as well when it comes to their pants falling below a certain point and if not (which is the case in some school districts) shame on them for not preparing these young men for a successful future. Women, you can not wear skirts above a certain length because guess what, you can’t in the workplace. It’s unprofessional and makes you look skanky- end of story. It has nothing to do with anyone starting, it’s preparing you for life, that’s the point of all schooling. Respect yourself enough to just wear a 2 inch longer skirt! Respect yourself enough to not assume every man is out to stare at you. Respect the males around you! It goes both ways.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100005659804783 James Rustlers

    This sickens me to no end. Instead of showing herself as a decent member of society who can control her actions and show responsibility for them, a rebellious, loud-mouthed teen protests a very reasonable rule to enforce modesty. Men need to stop being played as scapegoats in this social issue. Why can’t women just learn that exposing themselves is backward and primitive? Men are able to “survive” the heat with showing the world their religion with pants and shorts that go no higher than their knees. Overall, women need to have a better self image and stop blaming men for their poor self esteem, or do they need a man to teach them how not to be objectified?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1821667891 Angela McKean

    hello giggles – you should be ashamed of yourself for congratulating this sniveling little s**t. i’m tired of teenagers having this elitist attitude! she needs to abide by the dress code – it’s not there for girls to not be objectified, it’s there to keep a sense of decency among everyone at that school! it would be a double standard if they let boys wear muscle shirts (like sean astin in 50 dates) and then didn’t let her wear her stupid shorts, but apparently they don’t. take some pride and teach your children how to dress in a way that is appropriate for the situation – even if it is hot out. and i’m sorry, hot in Quebec, what was it? 40 degrees out (Canadian degrees that is)? seriously, she should be suspended for this uproar about her booty shorts. disgusting.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=794700292 Emily Fuller

    It disgusts me that you are supporting this girl. School dress codes are not about body shaming, they’re about young people learning what is and isn’t appropriate attire. In 5 years when this girl gets knocked back from every job interview because she doesn’t dress appropriately for a professional environment, she’s going to be blaming her school for not preparing her for the workplace.
    Please don’t support this behaviour. All you’re doing is teaching teenagers that it’s ok to do whatever they want, and to take advantage of a serious issue to do it.
    If this girl is doing anything for the body shaming argument, she’s setting to back. Who’s going to take the rest of us seriously if this is what they’re told the fight agains body shaming is about?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1325610062 Abigail McShinsky

    I agree with the other commenters in this instance. This has less to do with #YesAllWomen and more to do with modesty – not so that a man does not look at you and think lustful thoughts or objectify you (which is a cultural concern and is why #YesAllWomen exists), but to have pride in your body, security in it’s beauty, and the confidence to not show maximum amounts of it off to feel attractive and empowered.

    Let’s be honest, ladies – what is one of the primary drivers in high-school attire? Fitting in, being desirable, feeling ‘hot’ (there is another cultural problem here that is deeply ingrained, and I’m not going to broach it.) Fashion is certainly self-expression, but shorts can be longer than finger length, and sleeves, three fingers thick, without sacrificing fashion. There is no need to show off that much of your body in an academic setting for the sake of individuality.

    Could the school have been more tactful? Perhaps. But I do feel they were in the right. Let’s not mar #YesAllWomen for these petty reasons. Yes, all women have felt objectified (or worse) based solely on their gender. That doesn’t mean we get a free pass in places of professionalism to dress however we want, and to blame a man’s gaze for imprisoning us in shorts that are two inches longer.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=589186836 Amanda Aldous

    I think it might be more productive if Hello Giggles admins shut the comment feature off on this article because almost none of the comments prior to my post are positive and from my experience with HG, are not following the culture of the site which is to be more uplifting. things like “when this girl gets knocked back” and “sniveling little s**t” are so counter to Hello Giggles and it disappoints me that people in this community would respond in such a way.
    Also, the article never says how short her shorts were (as if it matters) but it seems that fact was assumed as this comment insinuates: “If I had children I wouldn’t want them going to school in tiny hotpants or really short denim cutoffs”. When I was in high school I was one of those people with long legs and a shorter torso so when I followed the finger-tip length rule my bottoms were longer than other girls, because newsflash, that is an arbitrary measurement, for some longer torsoed people, their fingertips might brush just below the bottom of their butts.
    Slow down before you react folks and please do your best to not continue the cycle of slut shaming, and if you are going to be a slut shamer (who has time for that though) reserve those judgments for when there is sufficient evidence to support what you are saying.

    I’d also like to point out that at my high school, it was more appropriate on spirit days for the boys to wear risque outfits for the laugh, but if a girl were to be wearing something pushing the boundaries of the dress code they were forced to comply whereas the boys could gallivant in their skimpy attire because ‘boys will be boys’.
    It is okay for teenagers to speak up for equal treatment, if they were going to check all of the girls in the classroom, they should have checked the boys too. What a waste of time in the school day to make all of the girls stand and get their shorts measured.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=21705765 Megan Hendrick

    There are many questions that come to mind when I read your article. To name a few:

    1. What is the dress code that is required at her school? Is there a dress code for boys and girls, or only girls? Was she truly being victimized, or were the school rules appropriate?

    2. Is this an isolated incident? Has there been other issues at this school with dress code, either positive or negative?

    3. What are the stats on girls being asked to change compared to boys being asked to change clothes (taking into account the school’s dress code)?

    4. Where are her parents in all of this? Were they contacted? Did they agree with her hanging the posters around school? Were they ok with what she wore to school that day? Have they given an opinion?

    There are many more questions beyond this that I have, but I believe that the list above covers a good deal of what is lacking in this article. I’m sorry to say, but your article is missing much needed information to make a sound judgement on this specific issue. Although it is an opinion piece, when I read through your article I did not feel as if you did the proper research to present yourself as being educated on this story.

    Before I close, I would like to emphasize that it would be especially helpful to at least know what the specific dress code is for this school. You state, “Dress codes are usually aimed at policing women’s clothing, not men’s and they are also so routine. and outdated.” This is grossly misleading. Addressing your statement that women are targeted more than men, I recommend that you research school dress codes around the United States and Canada, as well as Lindsay Spoker’s school (a school’s handbook is often easily found on its website.) Dress codes are created for both men and women. Men and women will often do not wear the same types of clothing, therefore it is a reasonable conclusion that more women may “break” one rule, while it may be found that more men “break” a different rule. (While reading this article the issue with boys sagging their pants comes to mind, which is one simple example of one popular male fashion statement that many schools find to be inappropriate.) This is just one of many issues that could be addressed.

    You are posting on a website that is read by many girls and women around the globe. If writing an opinion piece please do your research so that you may provide the correct information and back up your opinion with this research. If anything, this provides your audience with the information needed to not only see your side of the story, but to form their own opinion as well. With all due respect, after reading your article I did some more research and I do believe that her name is “Lindsay Stocker” and not “Lindsay Stock” (I ready many articles indicating that her last name was indeed “Stoker”.) If this is the case, from the beginning of the article you did not present yourself as an accurate source of information on this topic.

    I have generally been a fan of “Hello Giggles” but find this piece to be sorely lacking. I am surprised that it was allowed to be published with its lack of information and inaccurate information. Hopefully in the future this will be remedied.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=514463848 Angie Boyce

      Well said! Thank you!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=57801899 Ilana Lou Ellison

    I think that all of the harsh responses are what is sad. This is a multifaceted and important issue. Also, we are all women here and should treat each other better.

    I agree with Stock that the dress code appears sexist. Though, dress codes do have a purpose. Instead of focusing on the arbitrary arms length/shorts rule, we should be focusing these guidelines on appropriate dress for work. School prepares children for the outside world, and appropriate dress is a part of that. Discussing modesty is difficult, because so many cultures have disparate views of what is “modest”. How about “Dress for success, leaves the sweats and tanks at home”. This is directed at both sexes.

    I think Stock’s heart and mind were in the right place, she just needs to focus her message better.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=589186836 Amanda Aldous

      I couldn’t agree more with you. Thanks for your reason :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=624622145 Dayle Burton

    So glad that media outlets- including feminist and quasi-feminist ones- are getting flak for the biased reporting of these dress code stories. I’ve said it elsewhere and I’ll say it here: this is not a feminist issue. It’s wolf in sheep’s clothing. Dress codes are in place for many reasons, not least of which is because dress codes are a social norm everywhere, not just in school. One of many lessons that comprise the ‘hidden curriculum’ which prepares students for life in the real world. And as a feminist, I’m kinda pissed that this issue is getting so much coverage and muddling the true goals of feminism.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=8347643 Michaela Williams

    She is so right. This was the rule at my highschool so I NEVER wore shorts because I have long legs and long arms. It took me a very long time to feel comfortable wearing shots at all. Highschool is the time when teenagers are most vulnerable to outside influences, so the school REALLY need to think about the message they are sending and how a teenager might feel about it.

  • Melanie Schmitz

    I’m glad these young girls are standing up and saying something. Not every case warrants attention, since sometimes it’s a “follow the herd” mentality of “Well, it worked there, let’s revolt here too!” when the dress code at some schools really isn’t all that bad or biased. But in this case, she’s right.

    I attended a public school that said there was a rule against bathing suit tops and super-short shorts. However, one of my friends dressed up one day for a choir concert (we were required to do so on the day of any sporting or musical event), and her hem-appropriate dress (knee-length) was blasted as “too sexy” because it was one-shouldered. She had to drive all the way home to change so that boys could “focus”.

    Sorry– but when did shoulders and knees become sexy? They’re human body parts. Men have them too. But I don’t see boys getting called out for wearing tank tops to school or deep-v neck shirts. We’re sexualizing young girls’ bodies in a shameful way. I’m all for schools having a standard, gender neutral stance on clothing (no beach-wear, no tank tops, no bottoms above your mid-thigh)– to protect the idea that they’re dressing to attend lectures, as adults have workplace dress codes.

    But the idea that women can’t wear a tank top because it will distract men or boys is ridiculous. As long as a girl’s butt cheeks are still safely encased in her shorts or skirt without fear of her underside showing when she bends over, it’s all good to me.

    Mind you, I may be a bit fed up with all of this since I attended a very strict religious university where women were only allowed to wear high-necked shirts, knee length shorts and skirts and blouses with sleeves (no tank tops). Men had to ALWAYS be clean-shaven, but that was about it. *sigh.*

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=514463848 Angie Boyce

    I’m sorry, but I disagree. This girl does not deserve a medal, she needs to learn to deal with real life.

    I went to BHS. I remember being a teen and defying the dress code myself (the old ‘offensive’ shirts, blue hair, etc), but I think this is ridiculous. Dress code: No shorts that show your butt cheeks. No boob tubes, spaghetti straps, cleavage or midriffs. Pretty reasonable I think. The schools want to try and keep it somewhat classy and it’s their right to enforce a reasonable dress code. This is the only message they are sending, and there have to be boundries in these cases.

    The dress codes are not “targeting” girls, and being sexual should not be considered to be a part of going to school. No one is trying to ‘shame’ anyone, and this girl should not be taught to be a victim, and she should be taught to choose her battles wisely. When she goes to work when she is finished school there will be a dress code. She will have to deal with it. And yeah, if guys started wearing tight tank tops with short shorts that showed the outline of their dicks I bet the dress code would ‘target’ them as well…They are already told they cannot wear pants that are too low as well as singlets. It is good to see young people interested in social issues, but this one has been blown out of proportion and twisted into something it is not. I think we really need to be careful here, and I think a lot of us are confused about what shaming someone really is. This isn’t it.

    Stock should see the dress codes in Australia, and she might appreciate the freedom she has – even public schools have uniforms here! For the sake of avoiding annoyances like this a uniform could be a good idea!

    Just a side note: if she is so hot, why is she pairing a giant sweater with those shorts? Sorry, rant over.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1394462507 Gabby Lopez

    Completely disagree with the author’s opinion and with this girl. It’s called a dress code! And it applies to both girls & boys. Adults also have them in the workplace. Welcome to real world!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=622991639 Kristine R. Sulzanoka

    This is like a tree with two ends… While I agree with her that school officials under no circumstances should publicly shame a student, especially since science studies has proved the fact that a human has a stable psych only when they reach the age of 25, it might turn out to be just as damaging as shaming a toddler, I also agree (sort of) with school officials. I mean there is such thing as dresscode. How would students feel, if their middle-aged female teachers started wearing shorts that barely cover their bottoms – a sight to get a sore eye and kill an appetite for a week, but, hey, it’s their rights, right?

    Then again, I applaud this girl for standing up for human rights and the idea that the clothing problem seriously is the least problem in schools. Should really pay way more attention to anti-bullying and also that girls are not sexual objects… Then again, ladies, who are we trying to fool? I was 15 once, I know I used to wear tops that barely covered my nipples just so I’d get attention from boys, I’m sure this reason hasn’t changed. Argument that it keeps you cooler on hot days is invalid – come on, if you wear light dress you will stay much cooler than in tight jeans shorts and a top.

    Thank God I figured out at quiet young age that showing loads of skin is not really attractive…. See, being sexy is alright, but you can always be sexy and sophisticated, elegant. Also, big bonus – people will respect you more, if you cover up and still got it.

    Great suggestion – girls should watch TV show “Suits”. All females are super elegant, but, boy, there’s sexiness all over the place! 😉

    Anyways, ladies… Good luck and pay more attention to studies in stead of getting public attention for fighting commonly used dresscodes; whether you agree with it or not, you will have to obey it once you’re in grown up world (which is pretty much right after you graduate) and the sooner you will understand and accept it, the easier it will be later.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=511181539 Allison Jones

      I know what you’re saying, but all of the clothes that those ladies wear on that show are not allowed in schools since they do not have sleeves. Same with in the workplace. However, I think some of the rules are antiquated and should be updated (esp as how puberty works makes some people’s arms way longer than others, etc) and I do think that people should be teaching boys not to objectify girls. This is not the only time this has happened. A girl got sent home from her prom because, even though her dress was up to code, some of the male chaperones thought it was a little too sexy for their own comfort.

      So while, she may not deserve a medal to some people, I like that she took a stand for something she believed in against a “powerful” group (as schools can be when you are a teenager). So colour me impressed! :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000877205117 Steve M Snodgrass

    Hey do what you hell just wear your unferwear to school when some one says its wrong just blame it on a boy heck everyone buys that garbage. Rules are rules its not about shamming a womens body thats just more fem nazi crap . Where is the shame help me see you wore shorts to school with you ass/cotchie hanging out and got called on. Owe tell boys were not sex objects what a cop out say what you mean. I want to wear what i want rules be damned. And the its hot out yhats bull to if two inches of fabric makes you over heat see a doctor. Last but not least imahine men started wearing shorts with their junk hanging out and blamed it on girls sounds kinda silly. So does your argument

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=57003612 Sarah Lewis

    How about instead of blaming this sex or that sex, we start teaching our children to love themselves and respect themselves, both sexes. How about as a society we quit portraying perfect women as anorexic barbies and perfect men as rock hard muscle gods. How about we just start accepting all people for who we are. Blaming men is a feminist cop out to society’s problem of constantly making people feel less than what they are.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1488995563 Victoria Ann

    I wish this girl had attended my high school! These codes and regulations are extremely toxic and also excuse sexual violence against women by saying they “shouldn’t have worn such revealing clothing”, etc. I really appreciate what she is doing because having attended high school in Florida (where in the summer it’s well over 100 degrees and it’s extremely humid) we were not allowed to wear sandals, tank tops, or shorts that were above fingertip length. We would pass out from the heat, over-sweat, etc. Also, I am 5’9″ and seeing as to how long my arms are in ratio to my growing body at the time, I would be sent home for inappropriate clothing choice. Although they were mid thigh for me, since my arms were long, I had to be humiliated, and also had to inconvenience myself and my parents all for the sake of this code. They would have to come pick me up from school (their jobs were over an hour away) and/or bring me a change of clothing. I would miss class, lunch, etc. Although this was a few years ago, I will never forget how ridiculous it was to be sent home for being comfortable in your own skin, (literally, it was so hot out that these clothes actually saved me from heat exhaustion). I am so thankful that this girl sparked a fire with this cause! Also, to the commenter that made a remark saying, “how would students feel, if their middle-aged female teachers started wearing shorts that barely cover their bottoms – a sight to get a sore eye and kill an appetite for a week, but, hey, it’s their rights, right?”. Please just STOP. Whether a woman is 15, 35, 22, 65, etc. they are who they are, they look the way they do, and they are comfortable in their own skin. Just because your own petty opinion on how someones body should look is shitty, doesn’t mean that others should take your rude opinion into consideration and make it law. Grow up. Also, re-read your statement. Why would students be appalled? Would it be because the natural aging process of a woman is unappealing to them? Their teacher’s, professor’s, etc are not there to be sexually appealing for their students, staff, faculty, etc. You are perpetuating the act of excusing sexual assault as being the woman’s fault for wearing clothing that “warrants” the assault.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=514463848 Angie Boyce

      Dress codes “excuse sexual violence”? Excuse me? Can we please check ourselves before making such broad, albeit ignorant generalisations? I’m sorry if you were uncomfortable in high school but it is very irresponsible to perpetuate this sort of message. Not to be rude, but if your parents were willing to drive an hour to bring you a spare change of clothes because you didn’t prepare for the weather, you were very indulged and lucky. What will you do when your workplace has a dress code? These are things everyone has to deal with in the real world. I find it appalling that people are jumping on this bandwagon. Sexual violence is a serious issue, not something you use as an excuse to wear shorts to school.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=500209310 Caroline Blakely

      Victoria- are you kidding me? A few extra inches of fabric and you are going to pass out from the heat??? I couldn’t even finish reading the rest of your post because that line was just too hilarious! You don’t need to wear a spaghetti strap tank top and super short shorts to keep cool in the summer. If that were true the world population would have died off a LONG time ago. And don’t give excuses about being tall. I’m short waisted with big boobs. if I can find a t shirt that covers my cleavage and isn’t too baggy/tight you can find a pair of shorts that would fit a dress code. Ever heard of Bermuda shorts? Shocker, they are even fashionable!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000176457762 Stevie Friesth

    After this article, I have officially decided that I am done with HG. It isn’t the site it once was, and I’m sick of articles like this one. I agree with most of the commenters here that this girl doesn’t deserve a meddle, that these dress codes are not targeting women, that these dress codes are a part of the professional world. There have been too many articles like this one on this site as of late. Goodbye, Gigglers.

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