Last Saturday was supposed to be a fun night for high school students at a school in Utah. But for one student, things didn’t go quite the way they were supposed to. Sixteen year old high school junior, Gabi Finlayson, was called out in front of everyone for not having her shoulders covered.
Finlayson had been in Paris with her mother when she bought the dress, which has two inch straps, in compliance with her high school’s dress code. In an interview with Yahoo Parenting, Finlayson spoke about how much she loved the dress, but was left “feeling shamed and embarrassed” when she was forced to wear her coat all night.
But why was her dress such a problem? It followed the school’s two inch strap rule, so why did they call her out? Are a girl’s shoulders really so sexual that she can’t show them in public?
No, they’re not. At least, not until someone makes them so. By calling Finlayson out, she was being told that she needs to cover up, that she needs to hide her body because it’s too sexual. If we are sexualizing girl’s bodies while they’re still in school, I really don’t think it’s the girls that are the problem.
For all the years I was in school girls couldn’t show their shoulders or wear shorts that went above the knee. The reason? It was too distracting and too sexual. Now, I don’t know about you, but I don’t find knees all that erotic. I’m sure there are some people out there who do and that’s fine. Whatever floats your boat. But when a ten year old can’t wear shorts to school because it’s too distracting and sexual, you need to be looking at the men who said that and not at the girl.
I would walk down the hallway and see boys with their pants hanging down and boxers out for all to see. They’d wear shirts that say ‘women belong in the kitchen’. But were they ever reprimanded? No. What this says is that it’s okay to make jokes at a woman’s expense, but if she tries to wear something comfortable in thirty degree heat then it’s not okay. Girls at my school used to get sent home for wearing a tank top, but not once did a boy get sent home for having his boxers hanging out. You know what that says? It’s more important for boys to have a comfortable work environment than for a girl to get an education. And that’s simply not true. It’s either all or nothing. If shoulders aren’t allowed to be seen, neither are boxers. If boys can have their boxers hanging out, then girls can wear tank tops.
We need to stop sexualizing girl’s bodies. Women aren’t pieces of meat, we’re human beings. When a girl wears a tank top to school, it’s because it’s hot outside and she doesn’t want to spend the next five to six hours soaked in sweat. They’re not trying to distract anyone, they’re trying to be comfortable while getting an education.
If someone says a girl’s shoulders are too sexualized and distracting, it’s them that should be spoken to, not the girl.
*Photo provided to Yahoo by Finlayson’s Mother*