'My Dignity Is Not In The Length Of My Skirt' Facebook Campaign Challenges Body Shaming In Algeria And All Over The World

Cheating... punching the professor... bringing an open bottle of wine — all legitimate reasons to get banned from taking an exam. But what about the length of your skirt? Earlier this month, an unnamed female student in Algeria was banned from taking an exam because her professor deemed her skirt, which landed above the knee, inappropriate — and now a movement called My Dignity Is Not In The Length Of My Skirt is striking back.

Mohamed Tahar Hadjar, the Dean of the University of Algiers’ Faculty of Law, agreed that the professor made the right decision: “Wearing a short skirt is not authorized inside the university… It’s their job to uphold the rules of the faculty… it requires a decent outfit, for both girls and boys," the dean said to TSA Algerie (via BuzzFeed). He added that he believed the whole thing to be a “trivial matter."

But it's not a trivial matter, and student Sophia Jama decided she wasn't going to sit still and watch it happen. Instead, she responded by harnessing the power of the Internet: She created the Facebook community My Dignity Is Not In The Length Of My Skirt, encouraging women in Algeria and all over the world to post photos of their bare legs in protest of the incident.

Body shaming and policing of girls' clothing is becoming an increasing problem in a wide variety of places and in an equally wide variety of cultures — but, like Jama, women are beginning fight back. When, for example, 18-year-old Macy Edgerly in Texas was sent home for wearing leggings and a long tunic, her 21-year-old sister, Erca Edgerly uploaded a photo of the outfit to Facebook that's been shared almost 100,000 times. “How about instead of body shaming women, school systems should start teaching 15-18 year old boys to stop degrading women with their eyes and contributing to the rape culture of today’s society,” Edgerly wrote.

The fact that all of these instances are happening all over the world is evidence that this is a global problem. We — collectively — are teaching boys that when it comes to objectifying the female body, the excuse "I can't help it" is OK. 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. We would rather send them home from school, uneducated, than have them go about in public with an appearance that is deemed arbitrarily "inappropriate."

As with Edgerly's post, Jama's Facebook community has been gaining support as people upload photos of their bare legs to the community's albums "Angry legs," and "Special dedication to the security officer of the College of Law." Here are a few of the images, with their captions translated (a little clumsily, via Facebook's translate function) into English:

"The tanning their legs can not be dignity."

"The height of my heels and even less shared the veneer of my feet can not be my dignity."

"That legacy intersects with dignity."

In Algeria, the female body has become a place for protest, according to Jama. "It is a recurring problem in Algeria," she said to The Observers:

Even veiled women support this operation because they face the same problems. It would have this page continues to live beyond the incident. I would like it to become a monitoring tool that women experience daily...It's like an admission of failure, the female body becomes a battlefield when the situation of a country is disastrous. By dint of staying silent, we lose our small achievements and status of women in public space declines.... At worst, it is a wandering hand, at best, a remark. I do not blame the men, because it is the impoverishment and lack of education that condition. For them, women are deserving than when they respect modesty established by the company. This piece of leg is the catalyst for a profound evil, as in France, too long skirt expresses another malaise. This is symptomatic of countries that have not settled their political and economic problems.

"My dignity is not in the length of my skirt."

Images: Fotolia; My dignity is not in the length of my skirt/Facebook (4)