The Length Of My Skirt Is Not A Problem – Stop Making It One

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I can almost see an argument for a certain amount of modesty being appropriate in certain situations, but here’s the thing – there’s nothing actually inappropriate about showing skin. Nudist colonies aren’t nonstop orgies, they’re just a place where people don’t wear clothes. It’s kind of like how we’re taught to be afraid of the dark, but there’s nothing inherently scary about a lack of light; it’s the idea that you can’t see the bad guys coming for you. There’s nothing inherently bad about showing skin, it’s that our culture chooses to sexualize that.

You know what’s hard? Addressing a culture that still has way too much inherent misogyny and finding a way to fix it. You know what’s easy? Telling a teenage girl that her clothes are wrong, and that she should feel like a bad person for wearing them. It would be so great if we could stop doing that; if we could create a culture where girls felt like they could wear whatever they wanted to school without having to worry about how anyone was going to react. Until I have the spare time to start a movement to put an end to stupid misogynistic dress codes, I’m going to do what I can, which is this: I’m going to stop judging people on their appearance, and hope that they’ll be kind enough to do the same for me.

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  • Rebecca Adrienne Adam

    Skirt and dress shopping is so difficult, everything that would look like a dress on other girls looks like a top on me half the time!

  • Maria Kheyman

    I completely agree with you.
    There is one other situation where I feel it is up to school officials to help students. Many girls without height and wardrobe issues wear inappropriate length clothing not because they have no choice, but because they want the attention. I know, because I used to be one of them. I really wish someone had taken me aside and told me that I don’t need to show off my legs and part of my butt so boys will look at me. It’s a full circle in the sense that we are trying to prevent boys from looking (which, why not tell them to stop looking, like you said) but some girls want the boys to look and need to be taught to value their self esteem. This diverts from what you said, but I feel is an important comment to add.

    • Sian Ferguson

      Very true. Another factor that sickened me about the middle school teacher’s article was that she assumed that all girls were dressing ONLY to attract the attention of boys, thus perpetuating this stereotype. Sure, some may have been doing this – but her ‘solution’ to this deep-lying issue is to enforce a ‘dress code’ instead of ACTIVELY talking to the girls, figuring out whether their IS some sort of issue and helping them. Although she says she’s concerned for her students’ ‘souls’ she seems more distressed at the sight of their underwear and what the male students are thinking than any problems her students may/may not have. The students she mentioned didn’t become depressed/anorexic/self-loathing because they were allowed to wear what they choose – more likely because of the difficult stereotypes they face as women everyday, which this teacher is perpetuating. More likely because the adults in their lives stood back and judged them, writing to the popular media, ‘yearning’ to reach out to them instead of actually doing so. Covering insecure girls up is like covering a gaping wound with a plaster, and covering confident girls up tells them they shouldn’t be proud of their sexuality.

  • Julie Grace

    Honestly, it never occurred to me that the reasoning was a distraction for teenage boys. I always reasoned that it was for the sake of other girls feeling the pressure to follow trends that they may not be fully comfortable body-wise. I know I wasn’t, but feeling uncomfortable with the way I dressed was far less worse than not “fitting in”, or at least, that’s how I saw it.
    My parents bought me the longer shorts that went past my finger tips and as soon as I started getting made fun of because they were too long I rolled them up, purposefully breaking the dress code. This was all girl on girl influence and the boys never even crossed my mind.

  • Dana M. Abel

    This is possibly off topic, but it’s odd that you were never cast in the show. I’ve been heavily involved with the Vagina Monologues for five years, and directed the show in 2012. I’m pretty sure everyone who auditions is required to be given a role. You should go back and yell at those producers for denying you such a great experience! :)

  • Caitlin Antkowski

    Sooo I don’t fully agree with you saying that it is the fashion industry’s fault for what clothes are out today, it is the consumers. The fashion industry can put out any style of clothing but in the end, the garments that will sell are the only ones that consumers will buy. So if the young generation wants short skirts, then the industry will produce short skirts, because they know that short skirts will sell.

    Though I do agree with you on the industry has not expanded its markets enough for tall or curvy girls. There are markets for these girls, but most of the markets do not hold the same current styles as other mass-market retail stores.

    • Dakota Katherine M. Lloyd

      Except in north america everywhere sells the same thing that is slightly different. I realized this when I lived overseas and suddenly could buy dresses that fit (doesn’t happen in NA) and jeans that looked good and weren’t low rise or skinny jeans.

  • Loretta Oliver

    “You cannot short-circuit puberty by lowering hemlines.” ~ Excellent quote. I have teenage boys at home and I agree 100%, they’re going to be distracted no matter what.

  • Frances Kieselbach

    I agree completely. I have the opposite problem on the opposite end I am a whole 5’2 but very large chested. So even the most conservative women’s shirts turn into something cleavage revealing. Then comes summer and there is hardly no so such thing as a tank top that doesn’t result in cleavage and I know one day as I was hanging out with friends everyone on of them in tank tops one of them made a comment that it was inappropriate for me to be dressed like that in front of her husband. I was wearing a tank top that had it been on someone with a smaller chest it would have been very conservative(at least as much so as any tank top) in fact it had more material then her shirt. Personally I found it offensive that what because I’m large chested I should have to stick to jeans and tee’s year round to avoid you worrying that your husband may be staring. Men will stare at short skirts, low cut blouses, and just about anything, if we are going to start trying to not offend anyone then we need to offer everyone a loose fitting tee-shirt because it can’t be too tight and a pair of cozy sweat pants(again not to tight we don’t want any shape to be seen). In the past I have caught men staring at a girl in tight jeans just as much as the one in the short skirt and the girl in the perfect form fitting sweater as the girl in the cleavage. So you are absolutely correct “you cannot short-circuit puberty by lowering hemlines.” Teenage boys especially will look at anything let the right wind blow by and their happy.

  • Shane Mabrey

    Longer hemlines I think are a clothing solution similar to not letting young kids slow dance and grind on each other. Their hormones are already raging. If you think it’s just teenaged boys you are wrong. I am a non-traditional college student and am givin grief because I’m older and look at the much younger females. How can I help it when their boobs or ass is hanging out? It’s evolution, and despite Ensler’s quote, what you wear does make an invitation. Saying it has nothing to do with me is misguided and uninformed. Being male I help create societal expectations, women shave their legs, wear make-up, shave their pits, and I’m sick of hearing it’s just because I want to make myself feel good about myself; it’s actively participating in a system that you claim to despise.

    • Dade Frost

      i’d like to point out that i am male to start with, and carry on by saying that you shane are an idiot. i shave my face in a style i choose, because i like it, i shave my upper arms and my thighs because i don’t like the hair growing there. i shave my stomach and my lower regions, because i prefer how it looks. i do these things because i want to. not because of the effect on woman. i shave the places i shave for me, not for my girlfriend. had you concidered that, perhaps, just perhaps, woman might do the same thing? not all woman of course, but not all of any group does the same of everything. but just maybe women shave there legs, and the armpits, and anywhere else they care to shave because it makes them feel pretty, or sexy or whatever, for them. not for you.

    • Catherine Eaton

      “It’s evolution, and despite Ensler’s quote, what you wear does make an invitation. Saying it has nothing to do with me is misguided and uninformed.” Saying that you think what women wear is an invitation is just like saying a man is allowed to have sex with a woman because her shorts are short, whether she wants to or not, which is dead WRONG. Societal expectations do play a part in the way women dress, meaning that they wear short shorts and tight yoga pants instead of baggy sweat pants, but those expectations definitely do not give men an “invitation” or a right to have sex.

  • Nikolina Serdar

    I think this problem is two-sided. On the one hand, females want to wear what they want, but on the other hand, there are some who scream “sexual assault” every time a man looks at them. Of course being assaulted or even raped is never okay, no question about that! But it’s very hard for boys and even men to not look at your legs/cleavage if you show much skin. All humans respond to other humans’ bodies if they find them aesthetically pleasing. You can’t display a picture and tell people not to look. As long as you don’t mind the looks, it’s fine, though. I just have objections against this “I show what I’ve got but nobody’s supposed to look at me”-attitude. (Again, I’m talking only about looking, assault or worse things are a completely different story!)

    • Erin Maes

      It seems like this issue is frequently deflected by this sort of comment. I don’t think you intended your comment as a deflection, but as you pointed out, harmless glances are very different from sexual harassment or assault. What you don’t mention here is that rude, pointed staring, suggestive comments, hooting, and catcalling are also forms of sexual harassment– harassment is not limited to physical assault. When women complain about verbal harassment or rude stares, they are frequently told that these responses are inevitable because “people can’t help looking.” Maybe not, but people CAN refrain from engaging in sexual harassment. There is a big difference between a brief, discrete glance, and someone shamelessly staring because “hey, with those clothes, she can’t expect me not to.”

      • Nikolina Serdar

        I agree on that! But I have to admit that the thing you mentioned rarely happens where I live. Neither me nor any of my friends have ever experienced this and we really like to rock the skirts in summer. Maybe it’s the region I’m living in (smaller town in Southern Germany), I don’t know. But I do have the feeling that it is not such a big problem in this country. Could there be a correlation between the degree of feeling comfortable about sex in general and the decrease of rude comments towards/ staring at women who wear short clothing? I really don’t know but that is my impression…

        • Nikolina Serdar

          I mean if you have a relaxed attitude towards sex in general, there is nothing suppressed that could be provoked simply by the clothing somebody wears. Maybe we, as society, should reflect about our body images and the shunning of sex as something “dirty”. I’m not a psychologist or an expert of any sort, but I have the feeling that this could help.

  • Deanna Dever

    The reasoning that men/boys might be distracted is the same reasoning that is applied to keep women wrapped up in burkas. Men should be responsible for their own actions.

  • Erin Semple

    Of course! That girl must have been asking to get raped because she wore a mini skirt. I mean women in the 19th century were not raped, they had modest hemlines. Not being able to see a women’s ankles definitely prevents rape.

  • Don Biggs

    Rather than launch insults at each other regarding contrary perspectives… (as I’ve already read above) Please, someone (preferably female) just honestly answer this one question.

    What is the purpose in wearing a very short skirt or provocative clothing???

    As I said, please, answer the question honestly, without making nonesensical rationalizations,

    • Hannah Marie Bodnar

      The only reason I’ve ever worn a super short skirt was to get boys to look at me. I know that’s contradictory to what this author is saying but in my experience even though short shorts and mini skirts are “in style” you can still buy longer skirts and or shorts. Also I’m a taller girl (somewhere between 5’8″ and 5’7″) and you can find shorts that are long enough. I managed to wear shorts and skirts in high school and still follow the dress code.

      • Janessa Nelson

        I’m not going to get into an argument about height and at what height you become tall, etc. It isn’t a contest, and it shouldn’t be. But what you have to realize is that height is a gradient by definition. Every inch taller means every sleeve is a little shorter, every tailored jacket is a little tighter around the shoulders, every mini dress is a little closer to being a shirt. Those five inch heels you love wearing because they make you tower, merely make you the same height as me when I wear flats. There is a distinct difference between having to search for longer inseams at the Gap, and having to straight up buy custom made pants.

        So although you find it easy to buy shorts that are appropriate length, I hope you will understand that your experience differs greatly from the women who have to deal with being a man’s size while still trying to maintain our femininity. Because you view yourself as tall, doesn’t mean you have experienced the same problems women who are taller than you. So please, try and understand where the author is coming from before spouting that her statements aren’t true. They are true for her and for thousands of tall women, and hopefully this rant will allow you a bit more insight and perspective.

      • AnnaRose Goodman

        I’m also 5’8″, but I’m also a size XS and have fairly large, athletic thighs. Any kind of denim or khaki shorts that are longer than “very very short” are usually EXTREMELY uncomfortable. because they don’t fit right over my thighs. And they make my thighs look really weird.

    • Catherine Eaton

      In my opinion, it slightly depends on what age you are. As one gets older (meaning 30’s and up), one won’t nearly as much dress provocatively, but from middle school throughout a woman’s 20’s, they tend to wear provocative clothing (mostly only to specific environments like clubs and parties). And in my opinion, being a woman in college who dresses up to go to parties, it is because of two reasons. 1) To dress like that to a party is a norm. Everyone does it, so you must too if you want to be accepted. 2) You do want to look nice for guys, maybe even go home with one, but that obviously does not give any man the invitation or right or permission to assume that you want that. Just because I wear a short skirt to a party doesn’t mean I’m advertising my sex, it’s simply because I want to look sexy.

      • Maisy Elizabeth French

        I would definitely disagree with that, actually; first of all, because it’s extremely ageist (just as bad as sexism and racism, if you were unaware), and that statement generalizes that women are wearing what they’re wearing purely based on how it appears to those people around them. What I wear has very little if anything at all to do with presenting myself to other people, and everything to do with how it makes me feel. I don’t pay attention to what’s ‘in style’ and I couldn’t care less what other people think when I’m walking down the street. If I want to feel sexy, I’ll wear what I feel sexy in, and the rest of the time I wear what’s clean and what’s comfortable. A lot of the time I end up in leggings, a tank top, and a flannel shirt because it’s temperature neutral and I like flannel. A lot. I like Kurt Cobain and plaid makes me smile, so I wear it. Literally my outfit choices are that simple. I respect and am aware that a lot of people make outfit choices based on how other people see them and I think really THAT’S what Andrea’s trying to address here. EVERYONE HAS A DIFFERENT STYLE AND A DIFFERENT IDEA OF HOW TO DRESS, AND THERE’S NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT. Being 5’8″ with extremely long legs, I loved how she brought up skirt length, because my entire life I’ve been harassed about my shorts and skirts being too short, and they’re not. They are exactly the same length as the shorts those 12 girls are wearing over there, they cover up EXACTLY the same percentage of ass, the only difference is that since I’ve got more leg sticking out of the bottom of mine, that makes them ‘too short?’ That’s totally absurd! The idea behind the article, as I understood it, is not to make people feel bad for adhering to dress codes or dressing situationally appropriate, you guys are totally missing the point. The point is that women (and men) should be allowed to walk around in whatever makes them comfortable without having to worry about what anyone else is thinking; that’s the point. Be comfortable. If you want to feel sexy, wear what has that effect on you because it doesn’t matter what other people think, their opinions have nothing to do with how you carry yourself. Plain and simple.

    • Michelle Deco

      In all honesty, there’s a few reasons why I want to wear a short skirt.

      1) Sometimes it’s really hot outside, and I don’t want to wear pants.

      2) Sometimes a short skirt goes really well with my outfit, like boots or my top.

      3) Sometimes I want to look nice when going out with friends or going shopping.

      For me it’s a self-esteem thing, especially when I’m fit and toned. I don’t wear short skirts to turn heads, I wear it to feel better about myself.

      Thank you for your honest question.

      • Nikolina Serdar

        I think Don’s question was rather about extremely short skirts, if I understood him… For that I can’t give an honest answer because I don’t wear them. I doubt that skirts which end a few inches above the knee are a problem for anyone (plus they suit nearly every body shape, which is a big plus!) but sometimes you see skirts that barely cover a person’s rear end and I really don’t know what their purpose is. I mean, if your skirt looks like a broad belt you can walk around in your underwear as well, wouldn’t make too much difference.

        • Don Biggs

          Right on the money… I agree.

    • Mecca Bosbarger

      I’ll give you an honest reply, but you must understand that, as a woman reading the question, the initial reaction is easily, “The PURPOSE is not for YOU, sir.”

      But, to answer you, it could be for a number of reasons. Sometimes, it’s because that is what is in style for the season. It balances the top well, it is cooling on a hot day, it makes the person wearing it feel confident, whatever. Sometimes, it’s because it’s what was in the closet. The person wearing it had it from a hand-me-down, found it in a bargain bin, just threw it on because it was there and the person wearing it didn’t give a fuck how it looked. Other times, it is to appear fun, care-free, attractive or flirty. (This is the answer you were waiting for, I imagine.) No lady who is getting ready to go out to a club says, “Time to look unapproachable and reserved!” Although comfort is the choice often made, many will also incorporate some sense of badassiness or fun-having into the wardrobe choice. It could be said that these same sort of incorporation is applied to every-day clothing choices, like to school or a place of work.

      But here’s the thing: No one (woman, man or anyone in between) can assume the reasons for the skirt-wearing that day. It cannot be assumed that she is looking for love in the “wrong places,” looking for male or female attention, hoping someone will comment on her gams, or even just that she is trying to keep cool. Any of these assumptions only help two things: 1) Making advancements, or 2) gossiping. Both are judgments that close doors that would lead to the person’s identity, whether a potential friend, hook-up, coworker or even just a happy passer-by. I’ve easily fallen into the, “Look at her.. poor thing. Doesn’t she know that men will just see her as a slut when she dresses herself that way?” But that doesn’t really matter. The only way a person will learn not to judge by a hemline is if she is not judged by a hemline. Ideal, I know. But we have to shoot for something, right?

      • Don Biggs

        I understand your passion, but that’s just the point here. My question was worded not to initiated hostility or any emotion for that matter. I just wanted an honest dialog. If you state that women don’t wear short skirts to get the attention of men, or other women… then I’m going to call “BS” on that. On the other hand, men shouldn’t assume anything based on the height of a skirt either. No offense given, and none taken, but let’s be honest.

        • Mecca Bosbarger

          lol no no, I’m cool, not pissed or anything. Just wanted to mention that it is something that can easily rustle feathers (and for good reason).
          Anywho, you can call BS but that doesn’t make the assumption more or less true. I like to throw on something nice, flattering, and (often) low-cut for my guy because I know he likes the way I look that way. In cases like that, yeah, I’m dressing for the attention of the opposite sex and the attention it gets me is intentional. But, all it comes down to is the attitude we (men AND women — for every man calling someone a slut, there is a lady doing the same) have for people choosing to wear something we deem revealing. It’s a mental discipline. We have to remove the assumed reason for a person’s wardrobe choice. Even if someone has “SASSYPANTS” embroidered on the ass part of her pants, it’s not reason to smack it, physically or mentally (via internal judgment). Opening a discourse (“Hi, Sassypants, I’m Don.”) is not the same as having some inner thought, or expressing it to a friend, reasoning that, “Well, she just wants guys to check out her ass. Ho.. fo’ sho.” It could just seem like a harmless attitude, but those things really come out later in the way we treat each other and when it is passed on to other generations. Being mindful of assumptions and judgments has a powerful effect on the one holding the attitude just as much as the person receiving the behavior determined by that attitude.

          • Don Biggs

            Great… that was funny. Thanks.

            • Maria Lopez

              I don’t understand what you found funny about her response. She made some really good points

              • Don Biggs

                Sassypants??? Ho fo sho… Those were meant to be funny.

        • Stephanie Grant

          I think it’s important to note here that you say you want an honest answer, but then you say that any answer that says women aren’t looking for attention is “BS”. So, you’re just looking for someone to agree with you or you’re looking for someone to explain your answer (women looking for attention) to you. There’s nothing wrong with looking for people to agree with you, but that’s not the same as seeking out an honest answer.

        • AnnaRose Goodman

          One thing I thought I should add – I have fairly large and athletic thighs, so very short shorts and a lot more comfortable than longer ones, because they aren’t too tight in the wrong places. And at least as far as womens’ clothes are concerned, shorts are more comfortable than jeans for the most part. Also, I personally hate having anything tight around my neck, which is why I generally wear v-neck shirts. Something men often forget is that womens’ clothes at this point in time are generally a lot tighter and more restrictive than mens’, so wearing less is often more comfortable.

    • Alex Rieder

      I know when its really hot in the summer often the only thing I can do is wear less clothing. The heat and I don’t get along. Also, I’m short so mini-skirts are really not that mini when your legs are short.

    • Anne Labaye

      “What is the purpose in wearing a very short skirt or provocative clothing???”

      First of all, I think “very short skirt or provocative clothing” is quite a subjective thing, in my country (France) people will find skirts to be “short” or “provocative” much more often than in Great Britain for example.
      And then : what is the purpose of wearing leather? What is the purpose of wearing purple clothes? What is the purpose of wearing a top with sleeves that cover only half of your arms? None really, it’s just a personal sense of style I think… I don’t really feel like I have the right to ask people why they are wearing this or that, they just do and it’s their choice, it’s not really an issue for me anyway… I don’t think every thing has to have a purpose.
      And the mini skirt was a feminist achievement in a way, so it also has a special meaning to me! :)

  • Kaiva Dombrovska

    I like that yo bring up point that often society is taking responsibility from men about their actions and putting it on women. By doing such there is no favors done to either. We aren’t animals and that means that we can control our behavior. Men as well as women are responsible about their actions and by saying that women are dressing wrong we make excuse for men to act certain way.

  • Krissy Resha-Harris

    When I read articles like this I fee like I’m supposed to jump on the bandwagon and scream at the top of my lungs “Mini Skirts are okay!” But, deep down, I can’t. I don’t agree with mini skirts. I don’t agree with revealing shirts. It’s not that I think that women are a “slut” if they wear them, I just don’t find them appealing. My kind of style is more modest, instead of revealing. This article makes me feel bad about myself for not agreeing with dressing in that manner because it doesn’t appeal to me.

    • Danielle Green

      I feel the same way, which I why I responded in the way I did.

    • Andrea Greb

      Please don’t feel bad about anything! I definitely didn’t mean this article as an endorsement of mini-skirts as THE way to dress. Skirt length is something a lot of people have issues with, but my main point is that women should feel free to dress in whatever they enjoy/makes them feel comfortable, whether it’s a skirt or sweatpants or anything in between, without worrying about what anyone else thinks.

      • Christina Konze

        Yes, WOMEN, not teens who probably have no idea what they’re doing or what it means to dress like that amongst a bunch of other idiot teenagers.

  • Alex Rieder

    I know when its really hot in the summer often the only thing I can do is wear less clothing. The heat and I don’t get along. Also, I’m short so mini-skirts are really not that mini when your legs are short.

  • Amy Petermann

    I feel that this article gets at a different issue than the original complaint about short skirts from The Atlantic Monthly article. In the original article, the teacher expresses concern because she believes that when girls wear sexier clothing it signifies that they no longer take themselves seriously and think they are more valued for their body than their mind. I do not think this is usually the case, but it is an understandable concern. From the original article I did not get the impression that she was strict about skirt length because she was worried the girls would distract the boys, which this article seems to focus on more. I think the real issue The Atlantic Monthly article addresses is, when girls are in middle school and start dressing provocatively, is that a result of internalizing an idea that their most valuable asset is their body, or something else?

    • Andrea Greb

      This is a great point. In my article I was trying to point out that the dress code is kind of a flawed concept, because the author of the Atlantic piece spends so much of her time preoccupied with skirt length. I agree that middle school girls might be getting the message that their body is more valuable than their mind, but I don’t agree with the author’s solution. I wish her article had been more about the positive ways she was showing these girls how smart and strong they were, and not about how upset she was by their hemlines.

  • Danielle Green

    In many ways, I fall into the category of “feminist,” but I prefer to consider myself an individualist, in that I believe that each individual should be judged upon his or her own merit. I do not believe that reverse feminism or reverse racism are productive methods for creating the sort of equality most liberal minded people strive for. Having earned my BA in Honors English Literature and History, minors in Women’s Studies and Race/Culture/Power, and having actively continued to study these subjects, I would not consider myself an uninformed responder.

    I have a rule: if you skimp in one department, don’t skimp in the other. I.e. If you wear a super short skirt don’t wear a skimpy, backless shirt, and vice versa. I have this rule not because of society’s inherent misogyny, but because of what I personally feel comfortable presenting to the public. Yes, I wear short skirts sometimes, and yes, I wear low-cut shirts sometimes, but generally with the appropriate complement and in the appropriate setting. I believe these settings do exist. I do not consider myself a prude for adhering to dress codes; in fact, I have a back piece featuring the half-naked sea monster Scylla and a Virginia Woolf half sleeve which many professional dress codes would consider inappropriate. For me, non-professional and professional situations dictate what I choose to wear and what (and how much) I choose to expose.

    That being said, I find this article to be a bit unclear about its opinion of those of us who choose to take social cues. Because I choose to dress conservatively or more liberally given the occasion and the venue, does this make me a subservient female who allows misogynistic cultural mores to dictate her personal choices? Because I choose modesty in certain situations, does this make me a social conformist? I beg to differ. I think of the way I dress as a manifestation of the way I view myself, and I have no problem keeping up with trends and fashions, and dressing conservatively, or liberally, when I deem appropriate. Isn’t it misogyny that taught women to value their bodies, literally, for their reproductive capacities? I personally value my mind and my personality, and I hope to convey these qualities through the image I present with my mode of dress and style.

    • Danielle Green

      I would like to add that I am discussing my personal view of what is “appropriate” and “inappropriate.” For those of us who have the guts wear whatever they want whenever they want, more power to you! I take issue with being made to feel bad because I personally cannot get on board with that.

    • Andrea Greb

      I certainly never meant to imply that there was anything wrong with taking social cues or dressing in ways considered appropriate for any given situation; it was more that I don’t agree with how this concept of ‘appropriate’ was decided on. I wasn’t trying to endorse any way of dressing over another, just trying to make the case that everyone should be able to wear what they’re comfortable with, whatever that might be; the focus on miniskirts is because no one seems to take issue when people dress conservatively.

      • Danielle Green

        I do agree that the origins of what is “appropriate” are certainly important to consider, and I believe those origins to be rooted in misogyny. Unfortunately, for a woman to be taken seriously, the way she dresses does matter. In fact, in order for anybody to be taken seriously, the way she/he dresses does matter. Society doesn’t look too kindly upon men who sport pants down about their ankles; I would consider that style inappropriate for many settings.

        To continue with a discussion of the female wardrobe, in Mad Men, for example, Peggy Olson dresses rather conservatively and is able to overcome gender inequalities (to some degree) in the office while Joan Holloway dresses in such a way as to appeal to men and demonstrates the value she places in her body by doing so. I’m pretty sure she remains a secretary. I know that Mad Men is a constructed situation as a television show, but I think it does make a point. There was a great article on here last week about women traveling alone, and the writer does admit that, unfortunately, women do have to make some concessions, or at least be aware of the inequalities, in this misogynistic world. It’s not fair AT ALL, but reality is often unfair. I’m just not sure that debunking dress codes (in settings like school, work, etc.) is going to make a positive difference for feminism.

        Actually…no matter what, women are going to be judged upon the way they dress. Men, too, but women are specifically put under the microscope. If a woman dresses conservatively, she’s a prude; if a woman dresses “scantily,” she’s a slut; if a woman dresses in “unstylish” clothing, she’s a frump; if a woman dresses in men’s clothing, she’s a lesbian. No matter what, women are constantly put into categories which have implicit, or sometimes explicit, sexual parameters.

        Despite that I have disagreed with you on some points and taken issue with what seemed to me be a disapproving outlook on those of us who adhere to dress codes, I really enjoyed the article. It obviously got me thinking about this issue, even if it is in a way with which you don’t agree. The overarching themes, not dress codes and mini skirts specifically, are near and dear to me.

        • Andrea Greb

          As long as I’ve got you (and hopefully other people) thinking, then I’ve done what I wanted to do. I definitely agree that people are going to judged by how they dress; to think otherwise would certainly be unrealistic. It’s the same for travelling alone or being out at night; it would be nice if the world would just let us be, but that’s not the reality and we have to prepare for it. I think the important part is to start the conversation about why these are the realities; 100 years ago, the reality was that women were wearing skirts to their ankles and couldn’t vote; 50 years ago, most girls weren’t allowed to wear pants to school and most women weren’t working. Just because something is a reality we have to deal with now doesn’t mean it’s not something we can think about changing.

  • Rachel Hintz

    “Plus, I’m sorry, have you met a teenage boy? Yes, they’re going to be distracted by a girl if her skirt is on the shorter side, but put that same girl in a shapeless sack and a teenage boy is going to be distracted by wondering what’s under it. You cannot short-circuit puberty by lowering hemlines.”

    Love it. Thanks for this article!

  • Richard Starr

    I completely accept that women have the right to dress as they choose.
    I also believe no man has the right to touch without permission.

    I also expect that when a woman dresses in a manner that emphasizes her cleavage, curves, etc. that men are going to look. I have come to expect some
    women to get irate when those men look and even more irate when men don’t.
    Actually, let me modify that, when the woman happens to have a preference
    for women she”ll be irate when the women don’t look.

    Frequently part of the reason women dress the way they do is to garner a
    specific reaction from other people. Usually it is get a man she is attracted
    to to pay her more attention. Denying this fact is just plain dishonest. I need
    only look at the magazine aisle to see the ladies magazines giving advice on
    how to specifically do that.

    Unfortunately for women, she also can garner the attention of men she does
    not want. Oh, she may want to be admired, but from afar thank you very much.
    It’s the nature of “sexual harassment” that it is “unwanted attention” that is the
    problem. Here is the thing ladies, dressing inappropriately is also a form of
    harassment by making the environment uncomfortable. If you can make a
    complaint about a guy who happens to have a calendar of women scantily dressed you can’t really honestly claim it’s not harassment when you in turn
    dress in a similar manner in a work environment where it is not appropriate.

    Please stop pretending that dressing provocatively is not what it is.
    The female chimp shoves her red buttocks towards the male to get attention.
    Unlike the chimp, the message from the female human is not always delivered
    just to the right male or for the right reason. Some women enjoy the power
    they can derive by making some males react the way they do and have no
    interest at all in the males. The chimp is far more honest.

    What you wear does make a difference. You know it and I know it.
    Otherwise Victoria’s secret would have gone belly up ages ago.

    Reasonable dress codes help prevent inadvertent miscommunications.
    They also allow students more time to concentrate on school work rather
    than choosing the right outfit.

  • Maria Lopez

    I feel really bad that some girls reading this are feeling bad for not wearing short skirts. I don’t think that was the purpose of the article. It’s about wearing whatever makes you feel comfortable and happy and not judging others when they don’t adhere to YOUR standards. I often wear bows and frills and lace and my friends, especially guys, (lightly) joke around and tell me I dress like a five year old. What they understand is that I don’t dress the way I do to please them, I dress that way because when I look in the mirror it makes me smile. That’s real beauty right there.

    • Andrea Greb

      Well said! I could not agree more.

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