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 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 and outdated.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)