This Time A Woman Was Slut-Shamed For Wearing A T-Shirt That Was Too Long
Share

For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, it’s currently summertime. This means in many parts of the country the weather outside has been, to put it scientifically, a hot and fiery death. (But, like, a dry death if you’re in the southwestern United States.) However, the temperature outside didn’t seem to matter when this teen was slut-shamed for her long t-shirt and shorts. Let me repeat that in case you were faint from the heatwave/overwhelming misogyny: a 19-year-old young woman wearing shorts and t-shirt that covered them was told by a stranger that she was dressed inappropriately.

According to a Facebook post she shared, college student Madison Herber stopped by a gas station after classes to get a drink. It was a 106-degree day in Texas, where Herber lives, and she dressed accordingly. However, a passerby at the gas station didn't think her outfit was appropriate and proceed to yell at Herber about it. According to the Facebook post, the woman called Herber “very trashy” and said she exemplified “what's wrong with [her] generation.” Herber told Yahoo Style, “She told me my generation was the worst generation, that she didn’t think we had any values or morals.”

Herber also told Yahoo Style that while several people witnessed what happened, nobody stepped in. Herber told Teen Vogue the incident as a whole was disheartening. “I personally just think it's sad," she said to Teen Vogue. “It makes our society look heartless and negative."

Stories like Herber’s are both shocking and yet all too familiar. Last week a woman was asked to leave a public pool because her one-piece swimsuit might “excite” teenage boys. Stories about girls’ “distracting shoulders” in schools, while infuriating, are fairly common. Dress codes in schools, at work, and other public spaces have deemed essentially every part of the female form a distraction or otherwise inappropriate.

Basically, women’s bodies are constantly policed, in large part because women’s bodies are constantly sexualized. The ways in which dress codes often perpetuate rape culture are rooted in these sexist ideas society has about women’s bodies. The idea that male students in shorts could be a distraction to female students seems silly while the reverse has literally dictated public policy.

Dress codes and societal ideas about appropriate outfits don’t solely affect women. Recently, a man in the UK was told he couldn’t wear shorts to work so he showed up in a dress. While his actions were seemingly lighthearted and actually helped enact a change in his workplace’s policy, they do reveal a pretty blatant double standard. Aside from the fact the dress codes often disproportionately affect women, students who are trans have been punished for wearing dresses and skirts, the very act that helped this one man change his work's summer dress code.

Herber concluded her Facebook post with a mantra we should all remind ourselves: “I do not apologize for what I am wearing. It's hot outside and I was looking for comfort. That is all.” The endless list of incidents similar to Herber’s are evidence that we have some work to do as a society. That starts with recognizing events like this for what they are: examples of sexism. Hopefully, it ends with everyone being able to dress as they please, without apology.