4 Clothing Items Schools Should Ban So Girls Don’t Look Like “Prostitutes”

In response to some girls wearing leggings, jeggings and tight jeans to class, a school in Devils Lake, North Dakota, responded calmly and reasonably by insinuating that the girls’ clothing made them look like prostitutes and banning the pants in question. A controversial, reaction perhaps, but the school officials’ hearts are in the right place; after all, they don’t want the girls to dress like prostitutes.

Just kidding. The reaction was totally ridiculous.

The assistant principal told local news site ValleyNewsLive.com that all of the girls were made to watch two clips from Pretty Woman to garner a better understanding of the problem with their attire. In the first clip, the protagonist, Vivian, who is a prostitute, goes shopping on Rodeo Drive wearing a midriff-baring ensemble and tall boots with a sweater tied around her waist. People stare at her on the street and the sales associates at the store she enters snub her and tell her to leave. They both judge her character based on her clothes and embarrass her (surprise surprise) much like the officials at the North Dakota school. In the next scene, Vivian is dressed in an extravagant and conservative white dress and hat, beaming as people turn to look at her. She goes back to the same store to “show up” the women who had snubbed her before. The scene ends and Vivian has “won,” because she was able to dress like a “respectable lady.”

Not only is this shaming tactic distasteful and damaging (and teaches girls that prostitutes must be bad, evil people), but the school officials missed one big glaring contradiction that gums up their entire scheme: In both movie clips, people stared at Vivian regardless of what she was wearing. Whether she was showing lots of skin or wearing a fashionable dress, others were distracted by her. It seems like women and girls just can’t win!

Perhaps school officials across the country haven’t gone far enough in preventing girls from dressing like sex workers (and protecting boys from the fashionable distractions girls wear to school; the officials in North Dakota cited the girls’ outfits as an unwelcome and disruptive distraction for boys and male teachers). So here at Ms, where we like to be ahead of the curve, we’ve come up with our own list of things schools should ban to protect boys and men from having to attend school with harlots:

1. Button-up shirts

Now, many will wonder: Hey, what’s wrong with a nice button-up shirt? To which I reply: Button-ups are sneaky like that. They may look non-threatening and conservative on the surface, but if a girl wears a button-up shirt to school where there are boys, what’s going to stop those boys from imagining the buttons being undone? Not the button-up, I tell you! In order to stop boys from undressing girls with their eyes, girls should be made to wear clothing that looks like it can never come off.

2. Oversized sweaters

Some of these girls go to class wearing retro, hipster-style oversized sweaters with abrasive, non-alluring patterns. You would think that would be enough. But some of those floppy sweaters are big enough to fit two! What will the boys be thinking? Think of it. Just think of it.

3. Earmuffs

There’s no argument here: These accessories are obscene, plain and simple. They have the word “muff” in them for heaven’s sake!

4. Long hair

For centuries in the West, long, luscious hair has been culturally associated with women and femininity—and now’s it’s in our schools. We can’t have our strapping young boys suffocating from the “feminized” atmosphere that now clogs the hallowed halls of grade schools. Ladies, time to chop off all those long locks! Buzz cuts should be the word of the day for all girl students. That’ll keep the boys from ogling.

Sadly, it seems like there’s nothing girls can wear that will stop the boys in their classes from staring. Or rather, it seems like there’s nothing girls can wear that will stop the teachers from obsessing over whether or not the boys may or may not be possibly staring at the girls. Perhaps for the next school year, school officials should mandate that all girls wear clean, conservative sacks (no logos of course) that show that these girls respect themselves enough to let principals and deans make them wear sacks. But we must be careful that the sacks aren’t too colorful—nothing below a frequency of 606 THz. Then maybe, just maybe, our teachers and school officials will finally be able to focus on actually teaching the girls instead of staring at their bodies.

READ MORE: Dress Codes for Girls: Are Teachers the New Objectifiers?

Photo courtesy of Flickr user JannaHughes licensed under Creative Commons 2.0.




Corinne Gaston is currently an editorial intern at Ms. and is working toward a B.A. in Creative Writing at USC. When not in the Ms. office, she is the Associate Opinion Editor at Neon Tommy. Follow her on Twitter @elysehamsa or go to her personal blog.