How the Dress Code Targets Young Black Girls

How the Dress Code Targets Young Black Girls

Stop over-sexualizing young Black bodies.

Black girls can’t wear shorts, or at least that was the gist of the rules at the middle school I attended.

Hindsight is always 20/20, and at the time, I didn’t think anything of it. I went to a middle school in a Chicago suburb. Incidentally, the school also banned hugging at one point, but that’s a story on it’s own. The dress code consisted of two main rules: straps had to have an equal or greater width of three adult fingers, and shorts had to at least reach the tips of your fingers. Like any school with a similar dress code, the rules were set with girls in mind. No one cared about the boys who sagged their pants and let their underwear show, or the boys in tanks that were two adult fingers at best.

However, this isn’t the problem. These rules are at many schools across the nation and they’ve always had a sexist background. But I’m not going to discuss the over-sexualization of young girls and the men who leer at them before putting these rules in place. It’s the focus on Black girls that’s key, and the fetishization that corrupts their young age, even in their tween years.

At my middle school, there were three assistant principals — one for each grade. The assistant principal for my grade, who is still the assistant principal today, approached me and a couple of my friends. He directed one of them to go inside and change because her shorts came to her thumbs and not her longest finger. The protocol was that girls who broke the rules of the dress code had to change into their gym uniform. My friend came back out in her gym shorts, and we all sat around fuming about the situation as young girls do. But then we noticed one of the white students, a girl who was sitting a couple feet away from us, was wearing jogging short.

Yes. The jogging shorts that come mid-thigh at best. She had very long legs, and it was clear to anyone who can see that she had beyond surpassed breaking the dress code. So we got the assistant principal. Justice, it seemed to us, needed to be served. It was a youthful mentality — that if one suffered, we all had to. And in the eyes of the administration, it should have been a mentality that was upheld.

But it wasn’t.

“Well she’s talking to someone right now,” he told us.

But we had all been talking to each other when he approached our group, and he made our friend change regardless.

And then he said it. He told us that he didn’t really worry about girls like her — he emphasized “like her” so we’d know he meant white girls. He said that we, a group of young black girls who were still growing — developed differently than the white girls. He said that we grew up with a little “more,” and that made the rules necessary.

The more he was referring to was the curviness of the Black woman’s figure.

We all laughed at the time. We had already noticed that we had been developing a little faster than our white counterparts, and that our hips and curves were desirable. It had actually seemed like a compliment.

But hindsight is 20/20.

He had clearly and unapologetically told us that he only targeted Black girls when it came to the dress code because of the way they develop. That our bodies, in our tweens, had already been labeled as sexual and lust-worthy, and we needed more clothes than others, even other girls, to keep from becoming a distraction.

And to put it simply, that’s disgusting.

I purposely did not include the name of the assistant principal because this really isn’t about him. It’s about the ease that comes with sexualizing the young Black body, and how a person can feel so comfortable doing it that they’ll admit to it.

I sincerely hope that my middle school aims to uphold the dress code in all cases. If it is a rule, everyone should be held to it.

Cover Image Credit: Patch

Popular Right Now

An Open Letter to the Person Who Still Uses the "R Word"

Your negative associations are slowly poisoning the true meaning of an incredibly beautiful, exclusive word.

What do you mean you didn't “mean it like that?" You said it.

People don't say things just for the hell of it. It has one definition. Merriam-Webster defines it as, "To be less advanced in mental, physical or social development than is usual for one's age."

So, when you were “retarded drunk" this past weekend, as you claim, were you diagnosed with a physical or mental disability?

When you called your friend “retarded," did you realize that you were actually falsely labeling them as handicapped?

Don't correct yourself with words like “stupid," “dumb," or “ignorant." when I call you out. Sharpen your vocabulary a little more and broaden your horizons, because I promise you that if people with disabilities could banish that word forever, they would.

Especially when people associate it with drunks, bad decisions, idiotic statements, their enemies and other meaningless issues. Oh trust me, they are way more than that.

I'm not quite sure if you have had your eyes opened as to what a disabled person is capable of, but let me go ahead and lay it out there for you. My best friend has Down Syndrome, and when I tell people that their initial reaction is, “Oh that is so nice of you! You are so selfless to hang out with her."

Well, thanks for the compliment, but she is a person. A living, breathing, normal girl who has feelings, friends, thousands of abilities, knowledge, and compassion out the wazoo.

She listens better than anyone I know, she gets more excited to see me than anyone I know, and she works harder at her hobbies, school, work, and sports than anyone I know. She attends a private school, is a member of the swim team, has won multiple events in the Special Olympics, is in the school choir, and could quite possibly be the most popular girl at her school!

So yes, I would love to take your compliment, but please realize that most people who are labeled as “disabled" are actually more “able" than normal people. I hang out with her because she is one of the people who has so effortlessly taught me simplicity, gratitude, strength, faith, passion, love, genuine happiness and so much more.

Speaking for the people who cannot defend themselves: choose a new word.

The trend has gone out of style, just like smoking cigarettes or not wearing your seat belt. It is poisonous, it is ignorant, and it is low class.

As I explained above, most people with disabilities are actually more capable than a normal human because of their advantageous ways of making peoples' days and unknowingly changing lives. Hang out with a handicapped person, even if it is just for a day. I can one hundred percent guarantee you will bite your tongue next time you go to use the term out of context.

Hopefully you at least think of my friend, who in my book is a hero, a champion and an overcomer. Don't use the “R Word". You are way too good for that. Stand up and correct someone today.

Cover Image Credit: Kaitlin Murray

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

News Flash: 'Building The Wall' Is Still A Dumb Idea And Always Will Be

The government is still partially shutdown because of funding for the wall. Really?


A man who is a strong supporter of building the wall told me this metaphor: If you don't want the wrong people walking into your backyard, you put a fence up. We don't want the wrong people coming to America, so we put a wall up. I respect people's political beliefs, and because of this, I want to share mine.

I believe that President Trump demanding money to build a border wall is dumb.

It's hard to believe so many people really think that this "build a wall" has everything to do about border security. It's just inhumane and wrong.

Literally, the most notorious drug lord of Mexico has shed light about how he smuggles the drug into the U.S. They have brought it through fishing boats, trucks going through the legal point of entry, underground tunnel, but not through unwalled parts. The half of million pounds of narcotics that were secured at the border? They were all al legal points of entry.

I'm saying this because I am a proud daughter of immigrants who crossed the border. The media has portrayed immigrants as these horrible people infiltrating our country. They just want somewhere safe to live to raise their kid.

The conditions of Latin American countries are inexplicable. Communist have risen from the ashes dominating these countries letting people rot on the street starving. There are little to no job opportunities. I haven't seen my family in three years because it is dangerous to go.

The media doesn't tell you this. They don't tell you how many people have gone to the border and returned to Mexico because ICE agents tear gas them.

They tell you that they throw babies over fences to distract border patrol agents. They tell you children are dying because of malnutrition of trekking thousands of miles to get the border. They don't tell you that those same children have been eating unmonitored food with thousands of microorganism some mal some good.

Not all immigrants are not bad people. The notions that all immigrants are criminals is "fake news." It has been a hook, line, and sinker for the Republican Party. There are studies such as one from the journal Criminology showing that places with high undocumented immigrant population does not equal high crime.

Should undocumented citizens attempt to become legal residents of the United States? Absolutely, and that is a problem if they are evading taxes and other legal notions with more consequences.

However, we should not lie to ourselves and act as a wall is to help border security against drugs and crime. It's just a physical quota like 1920s immigration laws. There is a better solution then sacrificing 5.7 billion dollars. Let me translate that: 5,700,000,000 dollars. That is our taxes. As a college student, I rather have those 5.7 billion dollars be translated to scholarship, grants, financial aid, and helping us, the future of this country become the best people we can be. Why build a wall when the future of America, who I personally think is more important can be helped.

I don't come from a rich family, and I don't have the means to afford a college education without loans, so when I hear that the Government can afford to give 5.7 billion dollars for a wall, I have the right to be upset. Tell me I'm wrong, and call me dumb, but this is my unpopular opinion.


Related Content

Facebook Comments