Dress-coded student told that not wearing a bra makes 'people assume bad things'

Yahoo Lifestyle has chosen this story, originally published on November 8, as an example of one of our best of 2017.

A teenager who attends Beaumont High School in Southern California discovered that her choice of undergarments was actually subject to her teacher’s approval.

“BHS is so out of line,” Remy Altuna wrote on Twitter. “Now they want to dress code you for not wearing a bra. My underwear is none of there (sic) business.”

Altuna had gone most of the day in her black bodysuit and baggy jeans without comment from teachers or the security guards who typically watch for dress code violations, she tells Yahoo Lifestyle. But when she went to the school office to get a paper signed, an assistant vice principal pulled her aside and told her to put on a jacket.

“She said that my shirt was low cut; then she asked if I was wearing a bra,” Altuna says. “She went on to say that because I wasn’t wearing a bra, she didn’t want people to think anything bad of me or talk inappropriately or have anything bad to say.”

The Beaumont High School dress code does not specify anything about bras, but says this about shirts: “Tops must cover all parts of undergarments and shall not be low cut or revealing.” Altuna said she didn’t feel she needed a bra with her top, and if she’d worn one, she would have been dress-coded because it would have shown. While she does not think her outfit was inappropriate, she said what happened to her is part of a pattern.

“This year it just seems like they’re really out for blood, looking for anything,” Altuna says. It would be one thing if they were dress coding boys and girls equally, but she notes that girls have been the biggest targets, while the boys’ violations, such as ripped jeans, are overlooked.

Another student at Altuna’s school also took to Twitter to complain that girls were being disciplined for their outfits while boys who made sexual comments about them were not.

“So today security heard a guy comment something sexual bc of my leggings & then tried to dress code me for it instead of talking to the him?” Larissa M wrote. “My leggings weren’t sheer whatsoever. If our security can’t stand up to sexual harassment, they don’t need to work at BHS.”

Altuna said the vice principal told her: “I don’t want people to see you and assume bad things about you. I’m trying to protect you.”

A friend responded on Twitter, “What ‘bad things’ would someone assume? Like oh damn look at that girl being comfy and s***.”

“If my vice principal was so concerned about bullying and people saying bad things about me … then she should focus on the students who are behaving inappropriately,” Altuna told Yahoo. “We as women shouldn’t be put down because of our bodies.”

Christina Pierce, the principal of Beaumont High School, told Yahoo that she’s aware of the students’ concern.

“In a school with 2,800 students, we acknowledge that enforcing the dress code is not a perfect process; administrators diligently work to ensure all students are following the dress code,” Pierce said in an email. “Our goal is to establish a school culture that supports a productive academic atmosphere and safe environment. We provide ongoing training for administrators and staff, who educate students in identifying sexual harassment, and hold regular discussions with students about respectful behavior at school and in the classroom.”

The notion that wearing a bra or covering up the body is necessary for a girl’s protection is a faulty one, setting society up to blame the victims of sexual assault, according to experts.

Dressing comfy during a heat wave broke the dress code for this student.
Photo: rxmybxtch/Twitter

“At a global scale the rate of violence against women is that one in three girls have experienced violence, whether that be domestic violence or sexual assault,” Laura Palumbo, communications director for the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, told Yahoo Style in an interview last week. “That is something that is clearly happening at a scale across cultures and countries and suggests that it is much more of a complex issue than how a woman dresses and is actually rooted in the very ideas of traditional masculinity and subjugation of women.”

Last year, when a school in Montana tried to force girls to wear bras, the students began a school-wide “No Bra, No Problem” protest. Elsewhere in California, boys at San Benito High School in Hollister have taken to wearing off-the-shoulder tops to stand up to their school’s restrictions. Altuna seems willing to do the same.

“I’m ready to actually do something to push back against this, because this is ridiculous,” she tweeted on Wednesday. She told Yahoo that she’s writing a speech to argue her position on the dress code.

“It’s really hot in California right now, and we’re not going to be wearing burlap sacks to school every day,” she said. “Today, I’m wearing a Nasty Woman shirt to school, and we’ll see if they have anything to say about that.”

Read more from Yahoo Beauty + Style:

Follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest for nonstop inspiration delivered fresh to your feed, every day. For Twitter updates, follow @YahooStyle and @YahooBeauty.