This week in body policing news, Florida's Oakleaf High School forced student Miranda Larkin to wear a "shame suit" for violating the dress code by wearing this black skirt. She was stopped in a hallway by a teacher who said her skirt was too short and then sent to the nurse's office to change into the school's "dress code violation outfit" (why is that even a thing?), a bright yellow, over-sized shirt that reads "DRESS CODE VIOLATION."
In other words, Larkin was removed from her schooling and education for something that was neither a threat to others nor to herself and subsequently shamed publicly for her body using the classic and problematic "dress code" as a rationale. Sadly, this isn't the first time we've seen a story like this; in fact, just last week Barnard's resident advisors were told not to show "bellies, butts, or bras" in order to get the "most out of their training as possible."
The issue of dress codes is and always has been a gender issue — girls are usually the ones being shamed for being "slutty" or "unladylike" and "distracting boys," as if it is entirely the girls responsibility to avoid harassment and keep men in line. The Oakleaf High School dress code is no different. For female students, the dress code is non-negotiable. This pamphlet has rules like "NO CLEAVAGE is to be shown at any time", "no tights, leotards, or leggings may be worn as pants," and "bare midriffs or abs are not acceptable at any time" which, though not explicit in the pamphlet, are mostly rules pointed at women and girls, since it is mostly women and girls who wear leggings, show cleavage, or wear cropped tops. It's interesting to note that these rules for female students seem completely non-negotiable — the line that reads no cleavage is the only one capitalized, in bold, and underlined.
But the biggest rule that targets male students seems to be a lot less strict. It reads:
"All pants are to be securely in place above the top of the pelvis without undergarments (including boxers or gym shorts) visible at any time. If you have to physically hold up your pants, you are NOT in compliance with the dress code. Students trying to hide dropping pants by wearing long shirts will be asked to pull up shirts in order to prove compliance. The administration at OHS hopes everyone will comply with this rule. However, in the event that this becomes a big problem, the administration reserves the right to invoke a "tucked in shirts" rule."
Basically, if you're a male student wearing baggy pants the administration really, really hopes you'll comply with the rules! And if you don't, gee, it's OK, the worst that can happen is they'll ask you to tuck in your shirt. Boys will be boys, eh?
None of this is to say girls don't wear baggy pants and boys don't wear leggings, but there certainly are general trends of dress in high school and beyond that suggest certain majorities in each group, and Oakleaf High School has made clear by its actions and written rules that female students have no leeway.
Dianna Larkin, mother of Miranda Larkin, plans to file a complaint under FERPA, the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act under the premise that the schools administration wrongly publicized Miranda's discipline.
Larkin told ABC News: "I really do believe in punishing my kids if they do something wrong, but this is not about punishing kids. This is about humiliation."