Lilian Min
May 14, 2015 2:00 pm

Teenage girls have long gotten a bad rap: Their interests are routinely dismissed as passing obsessions, and when it comes to clothing and how they dress themselves, they can’t win. While all women are subjected to the prudish-to-attention-“seeking” spectrum, teen girls have to contend with teen boys, the majority of whom are still learning about gender and sexuality, if at all, and then at the very least, the intense judgment adults place on them to maintain their own “purities.” But more and more teen girls are standing up for themselves and against rules that target their self-expression but not boys’, and we are here. for. it.

Seventeen-year-old Canadian teen Lauren Wiggins wore a halter dress to school; the long, draped garment bared the upper portion of her back, but it’s still a long way away from immodesty. (Let’s not even touch the bra strap debate; suffice it to say, if people are worried about visible bra straps serving as a distraction, everybody needs to be walking around with blinders.)

The dress itself isn’t particularly notable, especially on a young woman, but what is notable is that school officials told Wiggins that her dress was a “sexual distraction” to the male students of the school. She then received detention for what amounts to a modesty violation.

Rightly fed up with this treatment, Wiggins took to Facebook to air her grievances. In a public post, she placed the picture of her dress side-by-side with a hand-written letter to her vice principal protesting her treatment.

In the post, Wiggins writes:

A transcript of her letter:

She received a one-day suspension for sending the letter.

As of now, there hasn’t been any update in Wiggins’s story, but her post has since joined the Internet movement of young women publicly calling out dress codes that unfairly target their and only their clothing — and their legs, shoulders, backs, and chests. The fact that girls’ clothing is manufactured in those styles and advertised as being stylish and appropriate, but then girls are punished for participating in a culture they didn’t create, is finally being realized as the absurd practice it is.

The argument that girls’ clothing could distract boys from their studies assumes a lot of things: That all girls dress for male attention; that all boys are interested in girls; that clothing is always a reflection of character and attention and not, say, a practical response to the weather. And as these girls grow up, those same assumptions play into their interactions as women. It’s long since past the point of “enough is enough” — girls, we support you and your quest to survive under relentless scrutiny and judgment. Because your present was our past, and we all have a stake in changing the future.

(Images via here and here.)

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