The Length Of My Skirt Is Not A Problem – Stop Making It OneAndrea Greb
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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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  • Janice

    OH MY GOD! I’m 5’11”, too, and it’s the exact same problem for me! Even if I get the proportions the same as my shorter friends (mid to lower thigh) I still constantly get comments that my skirt is too short. And I’ve been on the Internet for the past hour or so trying to learn what the exact proportion is that is considered to be “appropriate” for work as a teacher. And every time I try a skirt of proportions that fit the standards (if I can even find one,) the second I look in the mirror, I KNOW I’ll get comments. I’ve noticed a similar shame or embarrassment or whatever in my friends with big boobs. They’ll see a shirt they like, and immediately get nervous and question whether it’s work appropriate, which is always the weirdest thing when I hear it because I have literally never been told my shirt was too low-cut. But then, I’m flat-chested, so no one cares. Same with my friends with cute, round butts. They’re always worrying whether their pants are too tight for work. I’ve decided that if you have an attractive body part, especially if yours is more attractive than that of most people, you apparently need to be devoting extra energy toward making sure you’re not conjuring up sexual thoughts for other people as a result of your assets because apparently the view is that you’re recklessly imposing your sex appeal on them, which is just “trashy.”

  • Leah Nestor

    I think it is important to remember that men are biologically attracted to women (usually). I am going to wear whatever I want to wear, but I am aware that certain shirts or skirts are going get a guy’s attention a little more than a turtle neck and flannel. Men should be respectful regardless of the outfit a woman chooses, but women should not get mad if a guy looks at what she is showcasing.

  • Milly Boswell

    I see eye to eye with some of the issues here. I’m 5 11 and all legs and boobs, which while at school was madness. When your chest is as eye height to most of the teachers ( male and female) it causes some problems. Such as getting pulled aside by most teachers and being told to cover up. I was a model for a friend in her photograph class and I wore a 50’s/60’s dress and was told that I looked lovely by many male teachers. Do male teachers like to see young girls look like Sandy from Grease, looking all virginal and innocent? Which to be honest makes the teachers look even worse, am I right? I want to wear my short dresses and heels because I love wearing them, and to feel shame for that? GET OUT! just keep your urges to yourself men, I don’t tell you off for wearing Clark Kent glasses when you have 20/20 vision do I? Tight trousers that show up outlines? If I get told off so should you!

  • Bill Jeffreys

    Men apparently evolved with a strong visual component as part of their instinct to make copies of their genes. To display attributes that focus on our instinct to reproduce is inherent in our species. On a primitive level it’s how we select a mate. To ignore the effect that accentuating body parts, which indicate a readiness to breed, is to misunderstand our evolution.

    • Janice

      But to punish women when men decide that their inherent disposition makes them uncomfortable is to be an asshole.

  • Julianne Lavanty

    It is incredibly important to embrace your own sense of style and dress in a manner that makes you feel comfortable. However, I believe that in schools, as a high school student myself, that a more professional look should be encouraged in the classroom. I do not believe this because I think that women should not be distracting to men, but rather that school should be a place primarily focused on education and in a way teachers that are incredibly persistent about such matters violate this idea in itself. Anyways, my point is that in the classroom or workplace EVERYONE should be encouraged to present themselves in a professional manner. However outside of these perimeters, women should not have to exist in a world where short skirt or tube top or whatever automatically makes them perceived as a slut. Outside of a work environment just let people wear whatever the hell they want.

    • Julianne Lavanty

      As well, I understand that what is defined as “professional” is high subjective and whatnot.

  • Nicky Zohner Quinby

    To be fair, I don’t think the problem is inherent misogyny. For whatever reason, men do other things to ‘attract’ people, things other than wearing skimpy clothing. Girls and women do it all the time. Why is that?

    I mean, if a dude was wearing something ‘revealing’, he would get the same treatment. And they do–when they sag and show their stupid boxers all the time.

    I’m really tired of us women always crying victim. I choose not to wear short skirts or low shirts and I’ve been pretty content with avoiding all of the situations mentioned and guess what? It was MY CHOICE what to wear. We need to stop acting so defensively and be a little more considerate. So someone says your shirt is distracting, tell them you’ll adjust it but ALSO that they need to wrangle their lewd thoughts. It can be both things, a compromise, a halfway point. Just because we’re ‘poor, oppressed women’ doesn’t mean we are always right.

  • Erica Mason

    I get frustrated when women shame other women into wearing what they deem suitable clothing and then cite respecting feminists as a reason to conform. We should be holding everyone up as individuals and free-thinkers instead of tearing them down based on personal choices. I respect myself and I don’t look to others for validation regarding my looks, but I know some women have a harder time with that. Someone telling them that they’re dressing the wrong way isn’t going to help matters.

    It’s a strange comparison, but think of it like flag burning. Soldiers fight every day for our freedoms. It’s understandable for some to get upset by a protester burning a flag, but it’s a protected form of expression that falls under our First Amendment rights to freedom of speech. Women have fought and struggled for years to get us to where we are today. Some may think that we are being disrespectful by showing some extra skin, but I hope that most would be thrilled that we’re wearing what we want, instead of letting someone else dictate it for us.

    If you tell a girl she’s a slut because of the way she dresses, she’s going to feel like a slut. If you tell a girl she looks and feels confident, you’ll bring a smile to her face. Every time.

    I’m going to keep wearing what makes me feel good, be that a mini skirt or overalls. Kudos on the heartfelt article.

  • Millie González-De Jesús

    I had a similar situation were a dean pulled me aside because I was wearing shorts instead of full-length jeans on a casual day in middle school. Not even short shorts. Just shorts. I live in constant 90 degree weather, plus I went to an all-girl school. That was literally ridiculous. They made me call my mom who was an hour and a half away from the school and made her bring in jeans for me. While I was waiting, I had to wear a huge jumper that didn’t even fit me properly to hide my “indecency”. It was the most ridiculous experience of my life.

  • Chelsey Sue Nickerson

    How you are perceived is in how you present yourself. I didn’t have an issue with finding clothes long enough, sometimes they were too long. At a towering 5’2″, I am one short shit. Also, I can still wear the clothes I wore when I was 13, so now the problem is finding “adult” clothes that fit just right. In high school, I was the prude. I wore a skirt one day, and I joked that I wasn’t used to the breeze between my knees. But now that I’m out of high school, I really don’t want to wear the same clothes anymore, because when I do I am perceived as a 14-16 year old thanks to my Asian ancestry. Now I wear sweaters instead of graphic tees and neon pants, because when you walk into a bar and people look at you like, “WTF, where are her parents!?” it’s kind of embarrassing.

    As far as perverts go, I just wear shorts or cut spandex leggings and the problem is solved. If you watched many Japanese animes, you know what I mean. I wore a skirt on a windy day in Myrtle beach and there were two dudes with girls on their arms, and they were just staring at me (not at the same time). It took a second for it to sink in, but I realized I was ‘covered’.

  • Emily Bourgeois

    Ok. I’ve been reading the responces on this article for a couple days now and I feel that I now may speak. I’m 15 years old. So I attend a High School. There are girls who come to school when it is 40 degrees (F) in short shorts that barely cover their butt. My school does nothing about it. BUT When a girl wears a tank top on a day when it is 90 degrees they get stopped and cited for inappropritate length. On the first day of school my principal said “Our dress code says no exposed Butts Breasts Backs or Shoulders.” So what he essencially said was that because we’re girls we cannot be aloud to expose our shoulders? When walking about with half of your butt out is a choice? I. personally, won’t dress like that because I value modesty for MYSELF. But I’m also a firm believer in the “I’ll do what I do you do what you do and stay out of what I do” philosophy. So, I think that if some girl wants to wear short shorts, power to them, but do NOT be a hypocrite and tell me to change my shirt when I’m wearing a tank top and jeans.

  • Amelia Constance Laughlan

    People should definitely be allowed to wear whatever they want. But I think giving appropriateness guidelines to people who are still trying to figure out who they are (aka. children and teenagers) isn’t a bad thing.
    Also, it is possible to buy clothes from places other than mainstream fashion outlets and is therefore possible to buy longer skirts and dresses if you want them…. 2nd hand clothing stores and THE ENTIRE INTERNET are 2 great places to start….. I agree with what you are saying about the way society has demonised the way certain things are perceived but… I don’t know! I just think clothes should be comfortable and make you feel good. And some of that crap girls force themselves into cannot be doing either of those things….

  • Kristin Elizabeth Kellermeyer

    I love a good mini dress or short skirt, but our youth is dressig wayy too provocatively.

  • Catherine Hardman

    It’s like you wrote down everything I feel about skirt length and dress codes. I’m a high school student who is 5’10, and also have quite a large backside, so of course dresses look a bit shorter on me than they do on smaller girls. Last year I got dress coded so much that it made me hate my height and hate my body, dresses are my favorite thing to wear and I hate having to feel afraid to wear them for fear of getting in trouble. I’ve even gotten dress coded for a dress that fell under all dress code rules just because some teacher thought it “looked too short” and wouldn’t listen to me when I told her it was, in fact, in dress code. She sent me to the office for the dress. I was ultimately told once in the office that my dress was in dress code and was allowed to wear it, however I missed 15 minutes of algebra over all of that. Why should what I wear be more important than my education? It’s just ridiculous. Even worse, if they do decide what you are wearing is not in dress code they make you wear hideous sweats; and as someone who refuses to wear sweats in public on any occasion, and doesn’t even own a pair for lounging around the house, I would be terribly embarrassed to walk though the halls in them. These ridiculous dress codes really do need to stop.

  • Nahla Bendefaa

    This post speaks directly to me because on March 8th, 2012, I was a Senior in High School and it was International Women’s Day. My friends and I decided to wear skirts. We made sure we were all wearing black tights with them, yet, as soon as we got to school we were told what we were wearing was disrespectful and denied access to school. Six of us got kicked out, four more chose to follow us after first period and we went to get our parents and spoke to the headmaster. What annoys me is not the fact that I had to go wake up my mother to come, but the fact that so much energy went into justifying the length of a skirt because as you said, people don’t want to get their minds out of the gutter.

  • Christina Konze

    Is there no respect for modesty anymore? As a woman who gets very irritated at the mid-thigh trend of seemingly all dresses and skirts these days, and prefers to wear shirts and dresses with sleeves on them, it is hard to find clothes in which I feel comfortable. However, I do not blame the fashion industry for “making” me wear these things. I just don’t buy them! Don’t blame an industry where you have complete choice in where and what you buy. If you don’t like what’s out there, make it yourself!
    And teenage girls primarily DO wear provocative clothes, not for themselves, but to get the attention of others. School is not the place to do that. Do it on the weekends all you like, but wearing clothes like will invariably make others think of you in a certain way. It would be nice if we didn’t judge each other on our clothing choices, but we do, especially as teens. Don’t even pretend like you didn’t do that or wasn’t made fun of yourself.
    I was made fun of for NOT showing more skin at that age, which is just as wrong as assuming every girl is a slut who dresses in short skirts.

  • Kristina Bajric

    In my opinion everyone is entitled to wear what ever they want. That being said, I don’t know the age of those girls, but I think clothes should be age appropriate, no matter what they wear, as well as situation appropriate. I find this image represents the issue well

  • Juan Hernandez

    I’ll save you the trouble…you will always judge people based on their appearance – at least partly. We all do. When we go to a bar and try to find someone to hook up with we’re looking at their appearance first, not their IQ or personality or credit score. As far as women wearing skirts that are too short, that’s an easy fix. If you’re a woman and you start getting anxiety that you might be dressed inappropriately – chances are you are. Go home and change.

    • Rachel Alice

      But. If you’re a human being and you worry that you might be policing women’s bodies, clothing choices, and contributing to the slut-shaming rape culture which permeates our society? Chances are, you are. See what I did there? ;)

    • Malin Soderlund

      Judging people by their looks aside – a woman should never be slut-shamed or ever get to hear that it was HER fault for getting raped/molested/assaulted because of what she wore. Never, ever, ever.

      Instead of teaching women to ‘dress appropriately’ we should teach rapists not to rape, just because the victim happens to wear a skirt that’s ‘too short’.

  • Liz McKernin

    You said——> “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”
    I am interested to know, how can we create this culture? What would you suggest schools do? Are there no limits? Can girls literally wear whatever they want? Do you know any middle school girls? There is too much access to girls already especially with the technology available. Middle school girls should be GIRLS, not little mini young women. I want to know what you suggest. I have cousins in middle school and I constantly worry about them.

  • Ronja Brinkrode

    Seems to me this is a typical american issue: You are all about freedom of speech etc. but limit the individual freedom to a minimum. I went to an American high school and I have never felt more oppressed in my life. Wear this not that, school doors are locked during the day, deans patroll the hallways as if criminals and not pupils were locked in, you have to get the teachers signature to go to the bath room,… From a european perspective this is simply ridiculous! When I gave an interview on the american school system I told the truth: That I think the no child left behind policy is crap, and got pulled aside by the deans for improper behavior.
    I have a dream… that one day american hipocracy could be diminished.

    • Marie Jenet

      I so agree with what you said. I also spent 10 months in an American High School and I was so surprised to see what school was like over there. And I saw something I never thought I would see: when people were wearing “unappropriate clothes”, they were forced to put on a yellow shirt with a number on the front and a barcode on the back… Insane. It was like in Prison. Not to mention the police officers in the school, the big fences, security guars and cameras everywhere.

  • Deanna-Gabrielle Louise Alicea

    This is a brilliant piece. Who wrote the rules on what’s inappropriate to wear in school/work and what’s not anyway? I remember leggings were a violation of my school dress code, along with spaghetti strapped tops. You want to know what the reasoning was? The spaghetti straps would “show off our bra straps” and the leggings were “too figure-hugging.” Are you freaking kidding me? I could not stress enough that this is not a matter of men thinking things are inappropriate in school. There was never a male teacher in my school who complained about dress code violations. It was the women. WOMEN teachers are way more concerned about these dumb rules than the male ones were. And different people have different definitions of “appropriate.” My mother wouldn’t even let me wear V-neck t-shirts to high school, let alone shorts. I would be lucky if she let me wear flip flops. The point is, there is a difference between showing skin and dressing provocatively. Since some dummies can’t differentiate the two, we all have to suffer in return.

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