Community Response: Tell Me a Time You Were Sent Home for the Outfit You Were Wearing

Last week I saw a post that said, “When you interrupt a girls school day to force her to change clothes, or send her home because her shoulders or bra straps are visible you are telling her that making sure boys have a “distraction free” learning environment is more important than her education. Instead of shaming girls for their body teach boys that girls are sacred objects.”

It resonated with me significantly because I have at least two instances that I can remember that I have been sent home for wearing “inappropriate” clothing when in reality it was probably just because my body developed sooner than other girls or because a man felt uncomfortable around me. I shared my stories on my Instagram stories and then asked for others to share theirs. The responses were OVERWHELMING. It felt good that my experience was a shared one, but alternatively felt icky and sad and gross that so many of us had had the same problems growing up. That we were shamed, humiliated, made to feel bad about our bodies. Below is my story and all your shared stories. If you didn’t have an opportunity to share one in my stories, please feel free to share one in the comments below. I want this to be a place that we can all share our stories and feel heard.

MY STORY:

It was picture day in 7th grade at my Catholic grade school. We usually wore uniforms but on picture day we got to dress up, which for a budding fashionista was a really exciting thing. I had gotten a new outfit at The Limited just for this. I remember thinking I looked like Cher from Clueless in my white button down and pleated plaid skort and Mary Janes. When I got to school I for sure remember feeling looked at and uncomfortable and when we were about to go get our pictures taken, the principal came out and told me I could take my photo since the only thing in the photo would be my white button down, but then I would need to get picked up by mom because my skirt was inappropriate.

I remember my mom being mad that I got sent home because she helped me pick out the outfit and sent me to school. Also it was a SKORT, meaning the skirt had shorts so I didn’t think there was anything inappropriate about it. The shorts were probably just as short as the ones I wore for gym class. Anyway, flash forward to the end of the school year. There was a tradition that the 8th grade class would “will” something to the 7th graders – something that they would need for the next year. Usually they were funny – like my friend Meggie was given a frown because she never stopped smiling. My “will” was a long skirt. I died of humiliation since the one thing the 8th graders thought about me was one of the more embarrassing of my grade school career.

YOUR STORIES:

*These will be anonymous.

“I was sent home multiple times in middle school for ‘too much’ cleavage.”

“Not sent home but openly criticized for length of a denim skirt in 8th grade.”

“Wasn’t sent home but I’m petite and the school wouldn’t let me take in my uniforms to fit. I was tall for my age and ALL leg. It was humiliating to be called out while giving a speech.”

“A toga in 12th grade…Not from wearing a bed sheet, but from one shoulder showing.”

“My bff and I had matching outfits on: shorts, tank top & cardigans and I was forced to button mine up to the top because I had boobs and she didn’t. I was in 8th grade. I was sent to the office by a male teach which as an adult is creepy because he totally was looking at me not as a child which I was.”

“1st day of my freshman year of high school. Shorts were ‘too short’. My mom left work to bring me clothes. She only did it because she worked so close to home/school at the time but I still got in BIG trouble at home for inconveniencing her.”

“Actually happened at work two years ago. Had silk tank under cardigan. Went to lunch & came back with cardigan draped over my arm (100 degree Midwestern summer). I was sent to HR.”

“I’ve always been a big girl. Went to Catholic grade school and they didn’t have our uniform in bigger sizes so I had to special order skirts because I wasn’t allowed to wear pants and had to wear the very noticeable boy shirts. Got teased all the time for it and no one stopped it.”

“I’ve got long legs/short torso. I got sent home in 10th grade bc my jean skirt was ‘too short’.”

“Our rule was shorts to the end of your finger tips. I wore some plaid ones with heels once and they were long enough but the heels ‘made my legs look a mile long’ so I was sent home.”

“I wasn’t sent home, but this happened to me as an adult. I was a first-year teacher in a tiny town in the Delta. Principal had me do the dollar bill test for my skirt in front of my students because she didn’t like my outfit. I passed the test, but was humiliated.”

“Not sent home, but embarrassed in a cafeteria full of people. Had to do the ‘finger tip test’ because they said my shorts were too short. I passed ‘the test’.”

“Not me, but my teenage step-daughter. Racer back tank. Sexy shoulder blades?”

“My HS was so bad about this and they would watch students enter daily at each door. Awful. Also ‘finger tip length’ is some BS, especially for us tall ladies. I’m 5’9.”

“I’m a teacher and twice I’ve been shoulder shamed until either I cover up or change. I dress business casual. I was wearing dresses both times and nothing cut. I had on proper foundations ie bra and underpants.”

“Wore a Christina Aguilera short to photo day at a Catholic school and was sent home.”

“Mine actually happened at work while in grad school! They said my dress was too short even thought I was wearing opaque tights and knew it was NOT too short. Told to change shirt because I was wearing ‘spaghetti straps’. Straps met 2 finger rule.”

“A friend had to go home, bring all school clothes to school and try on in front of principal!”

“I sat down and my shirt didn’t cover that little bit of back. I was 10 and felt embarassed.”

“We had uniforms at our school. We had to go out in the hallway 1 by 1, kneel and skirts had to be touching the floor.”

“Sent to the office over a tank top that ‘flaunted’ my large chest as my English teacher put it. It was not low cut I was super petite and had 38D chest. She always tried to humiliate girls that had curves.”

“I had a skirt that went all the way to the ground. With a slip on underneath. Still deemed suspicious! Because ‘you might be able to see through it in the sunlight’.”

“My sister who is modest was told to put on a sweater because she had a thick strapped bra on. She said ‘no’ because she was really hot and she felt like she’d faint. The teacher (a woman) kept arguing with her in front of the class. Finally my sister said to the teacher, “But you’re wearing a thin strap tank top”. Hypocritical rules. It was a Catholic school and this teacher always had her thongs showing and later was fired for making a sex tape.”

“I was taken into a classroom alone and lectured by a teacher for wearing a t-shirt. It wasn’s low cut but it ‘outlined my breasts’ and I was being ‘sinful’ and ‘men would see you differently’.”

“I was sent home from a choir concert because my skirt was “too tight” under my choir robe.”

“Wasn’t sent home but I’m tall and had to do a public shorts/skirt length check ALL THE TIME.”

“Not sent home but I developed early. Teaher pulled me out to talk about wearing a bra. We were poor and I couldn’t ask my mom to buy 1. So had to have a lot of talks that year.”

“They attempted to send me home towards the end of the day. I told them my mother would flip, but they could try calling if they wanted. They opted not to since we had less than 2 hours left and knew my mom would get mad.”

“My hs was awful. We had a gigantic (6X) orange tee saying ‘Tomorrow I will dress for success.’ We also couldn’t even wear flip flops or tanks in summer. This was NW Indiana. Looking back now I wish I would have called out the administration.”

“I too developed early around 7th grade. I remember the first time I wore a v-neck shirt I didn’t wear a tank top under it. My mom worked for the ambulance and wasn’t always home before we left for school but I by no means thought it was inappropriate. You could just barely see the start of my ‘cleavage’ line. I was told I needed to find a way to fix it or I had to go home. With no way to go home since my mom was out with the ambulance, I stapled a piece of paper into my shirt to cover up my 2cm of cleavage.”

“In my school district girls couldn’t wear shorts but boys could. I live in TX and it was HOT.”

“Not school but a job. I wore a shorter dress that went to my mid thigh and told not to wear it again.”

“Worse. A straight size girl would regularly wear a tight dress that hit just under her butt and no one cared.”

“Shamed in home room in 2010. for wearing leggings.”

“Never sent home, but I was singled out in front of everyone during lunch in 7th grade.”

“I remember wearing a tank top with ‘too thin a strap’. The creepy ass principal made me put on a dirty old t-shirt over it for the rest of the day. It was a punishment. I was being punished for wearing a tank top when it was too hot. It was the modern equivalent of a Scarlet A.”

“My volleyball team was made to order soccer uniforms because the principal said no one wants to see “big girls” in spandex volleyball shorts. I was furious! Still mad.”

“Never sent home but told to war a jacket over tank tops or one-shoulder tops in FL. Uh, it’s hot!!!”

“Never sent home, but if I was to wear a dress or skirt it was only when planned with others. Comfort or safety in numbers I realize now.”

“I’m very tall so shorts were short on me. Was forced to wear sweats in 9th grade because my shorts were ‘too short’. It was early fall so it was HOT. I felt embarrassed. Oh and the sweats were a men’s L or XL and I was probably an XS at the time.”

“Catholic school: skirt was ‘too tight’. It was bell shaped with ruffles – I just had hips under it! I also got a detention because I bent over to pick something up and my shirt untucked itself.”

“Admin in HS first asked if I was a parent or a student. Then dress coded me. Also got sent to the principal’s office for my school issued cheer uniform. ‘It looks different on you.'”

“I got reprimanded wearing a miniskirt at Express because I’m hippy and they didn’t like it. A miniskirt THAT THEY SOLD. In multiple colors. Just not for people like me I guess.”

“Not sent home, but along the same lines: I am VERY busty with a very petite frame. Went to senior prom with a guy friend and inveitably my dress showed some cleavage. His mom apparently made comments to all of the other parents that “at least their son was going to prom with a girl who knows how to dress appropriately”.

“Not sent home, but my pants were always too short. I was 5’9″ since 11 and always picked on.”

“A teacher stopped me in the hall to to unroll my pants (my 7th grade self made low-rise jeans lol). My pants weren’t too low – I was carrying an armful of textbooks & my shirt rode up! It was humiliating and I remember feeling so ashamed. Also I had a big ass and curvy hips at 12. She wasn’t doing that to any of the twig girls.”

“Back in the late 90s I was sent to the principal’s office for wearing a spaghetti strap tank top. I was already a D cup so my bra straps showed. I was told to reevaluate my style choices. But other girls in my class could wear spaghetti straps and bras and not get in trouble. I didn’t see it as fair at the time, but talk about a triple standard shame right there!”

“Def had to measure my shorts inseam multiple times in front of the entire class.”

“Didn’t get sent home but they gave me ugly sweatpants to wear all day.”

“Not sent home but collectively the girls in my senior class were told off the day after an awards night for dressing like we were “at a party” AKA in teenage sundresses with spaghetti straps in June.”

“I’m 5’11” so skirts were shorter on me. Had to be as long as fingertips and it came to my knuckle. It made me feel like a GIANT being called out class and escorted to principal’s office and they called my mom to tell her to go get me. It was a knee length skirt at most. Humiliating.”

“Got detention for lower back showing when leaning into my locker.”

“I was also sent home for wearing Nike track shorts since they curve up on the sides.”

“We weren’t sent home but had to wear like ‘community clothes’ basically sweatshirts/sweatpants.”

“My orchestra teacher told me everyday that my midriff was showing.”

“I was made to wear someone else’s gym uniforms from the lost and found.”

“They wouldn’t send us home, they made us change into our gym uniforms but STILL!”

“Sent home for wearing bike shorts with a long t-shirt (covered my behind). Funny because it’s back in style.”

“I was stretching and leaned back therefore my shirt rode up. VP saw and I got in school suspension.”

“I legit got sent home in high school for wearing a maxi dress because it had spaghetti straps.”

“Sent to put on gym shorts because shorts too short (mid thigh) – 5’7″ in 6th grade…”

“We had a very strict dress code at work and if you wore capri pants, you had to wear a polo with it. I forgot and wore a nice, dressy top but got sent home to change because it wasn’t a POLO.”

“Not sent home from school but shamed at church because my skirt was at my knees and not below.”

“3rd grade teacher sent me home because I had crimped my hair that day (FLY AF!) and I was ‘touching it too much’ and distracting the boys in class. THIRD GRADE!”

“Definitely the short shorts at one point due to my height. I had to wear gym shorts instead.”

“I wasn’t allowed into our 7th grade dance because I had on a sleeveless blouse.”

“I got a Saturday detention for my skirt measuring 4 1/2 inches above my knee instead of 4 inches.”

2 thoughts on “Community Response: Tell Me a Time You Were Sent Home for the Outfit You Were Wearing

  1. Thank you for this post! I’ve really never thought about how ridiculous dress codes in school were and how much they punish girls for wearing clothes that “distract the boys”. I’ve always had long, lean legs so shorts and skirts always looked shorter on me compared to my shorter friends. I remember being “dress coded” once in high school for wearing jean shorts that were deemed too short even though they went down to my fingers (I think the rule was technically 2 inches above the knee). My friend who is 4 inches shorter than me wore shorts even shorter than mine that day and didn’t get in trouble.

    We also couldn’t show our shoulders so I remember rocking the t-shirt under tank tops.

    Googling my high school’s dress code it seems they have relaxed it. I don’t know if it has to do with just being more relaxed, or realizing the objectification that comes with dress codes. Other than boys having their pants sagging I don’t recall a boy ever being told what he was wearing was inappropriate.

    Like

    1. yes I don’t remember boys ever being told to dress differently except maybe if they were wearing what the school thought was “gang-related” clothing – which again is a whole OTHER issue.

      Like

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