Gina Vaynshteyn
May 19, 2015 7:14 am

A couple of weeks ago, a woman attending the Algerian law school Algiers’ Faculty of Law came to take her exam . . . only to be sent away. The exam supervisor deemed her unfit to take the test — all because she was wearing a skirt that came above her knees. According to Buzzfeed News, the dean of Algiers Faculty of Law (Mohamed Tahar Hadjar), claimed the supervisor was not wrong for his actions. Hadjar stated, “Wearing a short skirt is not authorised inside the university . . . It’s their job to uphold the rules of the faculty . . . it requires a decent outfit, for both girls and boys.”

Naturally, this explanation further upset the students in the woman’s class, who already felt that the woman was needlessly shamed and discriminated against. So, fellow classmate Sophia Jama took things into her own hands and created a Facebook page called “My dignity is not the length of my skirt;” and it’s brilliantly calling attention to the issues of gendered dress codes and sexism. The page challenges these antiquated views that are common in many cultures, not just Algeria. Almost 9,000 people have liked the Facebook page so far, and women (and men!) are expressing their beliefs and showing their support by posting pictures of their “angry legs,” bare legs that are culturally viewed as “inappropriate.”

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen a student bravely call out her school officials for policing men and women’s bodies. This kind of outfit shaming unnecessarily sexualizes the male and female body, perpetuates sexism, and reduces a person to their appearance. Just within the last year, we’ve seen a bunch of students standing up for themselves and their outfit choices.

Miranda Larkin from Oakleaf High School was forced to wear a highlighter-yellow shirt that said “DRESS CODE VIOLATION,” and she and her mom fought back, claiming it wasn’t right of the school to embarrass a student as a form of punishment. Meanwhile in Washington state, a brave group of middle-schoolers launched a petition, highlighting the appearance double-standards in place, and how a dress code can often times do more harm than good by objectifying and body-shaming women. And this high-schooler called out a dress code rule that dictated the summer clothes girls wear “distract” others. Then of course, there is the slew of unfair prom dress codes that have been challenged just this spring. Shaming women for the clothes they wear is something that desperately needed addressing, particularly within schools, and it’s empowering to see that people are finally not taking it anymore.

Bustle‘s Melanie Kozak brilliantly points out the problem with harmful dress codes if they go, um, unaddressed: “We are teaching children that it’s a girl’s responsibility to make sure boys get an undistracted education, and that they must sacrifice their own education to do so. We are teaching girls that their appearance matters more than their education.”

And when a law-school student gets sent home instead of being allowed to take an exam, that’s sending the message that her outfit is much more important than her future law career.

Here are some of the powerful pics posted to “My dignity is not the length of my skirt.” The captions are largely in French but just see those bare legs as a sign of serious solidarity.

The creator of the Facebook page, Jama, told France24, “What happened to that student was very harsh. She was humiliated. Woman’s body has become a battle field in Algeria. And if we keep silent, we women will lose a lot from our gains, regarding our freedom in public places.” We couldn’t agree more.

Image via Twitter

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