Teens in Quebec are decorating their clothing with yellow squares to protest their “restrictive and sexist” school dress code — with female students demanding to ditch their bras.
On March 22, Célestine Uhde and three other students at Joseph-François-Perrault High School launched the Facebook group “Les Carrés Jaunes” (yellow squares) in response to their school dress code, which prohibits spaghetti straps and shorts that end above mid-thigh, among other items. “We consider that most regulations are archaic and that we have the right to claim certain things,” per the group’s mission statement, translated from French. “The Yellow Square is our distinctive sign.”
In a follow-up post, the group stated, “Moreover, we claim the right not to wear brassières and respect when we do not wear them.”
“We launched the movement to fight the culture of rape and hypersexualization,” Uhde tells Yahoo Lifestyle, in an email translated from French. “We want the equality of men and women both in our treatment and how the world views our bodies,” adding that the group chose the color yellow because it’s easily recognizable.
Noting that bras can be physically uncomfortable, Uhde says, “In an ideal world, women would not need to hide their breasts and freely assume their bodies,” because “hiding one’s breasts sexualizes them more.”
A representative from Joseph-François-Perrault High School did not return Yahoo Lifestyle’s request for comment but the school principal Marlène Bureau told CBC, “We can be proud that our youths question things.”
The Facebook group has also attracted students from neighboring schools who object to their respective dress codes. For example, one girl who attends Mont-Saint-Sacrement school in Quebec complained that dyed hair, patterns, and flashy accessories are banned. And Uhde tells Yahoo Lifestyle that the group has drawn support from both male and female students.
School dress code protests often draw controversy for enforcing gender-and-weight discrimination, and lately, bras have become a focal point for some who feel the rules have gotten too invasive.
BHS is so out of line. Now they want to dress code you for not wearing a bra. My underwear is none of there business. pic.twitter.com/HgocMryaGB
— remy (@remyaltuna) August 17, 2017
Earlier in April, a Florida high school junior named Lizzy Martinez vowed to attend school braless after her dean told her to place Band-Aids over her nipples to prevent male students from becoming “distracted.”
“If the boys in my class were so distracted, shouldn’t they have been talked to and educated about the situation and not me being pulled out of class?” Martinez told Columbus, Ohio, local news station NBC4i. Her mother agreed, telling Tampa Bay station WFTS, “We would not target a male who had excessive breast tissue and ask them to confine the movement.”
In 2017, Remy Altuna, a student at Beaumont High School in California, was told by her assistant vice principal to wear a jacket over her black bodysuit to conceal the fact that she wasn’t wearing a bra. Altuna told Yahoo Lifestyle, “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.”
In 2016, Montana teen Kaitlyn Juvik launched a Facebook page called “Kaitlyn the Braless Warrior” after a male teacher complained he was “uncomfortable” with her look.
“Boys always get the excuse about their hormones, that ‘boys will be boys,’” Juvik told People, “but instead, perhaps people should start teaching boys not to sexualize women’s bodies. Wearing a bra is a personal choice. It’s my body. Why is it anybody else’s business whether I’m wearing a bra, especially when I’m covered up and dressed appropriately?”
Juvik pointed out that she hadn’t worn a bra to school for a year prior because it was “too restrictive” and that her school handbook has no such requirements. In response to the incident, her peers created the Facebook group, “No Bra, No Problem” and hundreds of female students went braless in protest, with some male students strapping on the undergarment.
Helena (Mont.) High School principal Steve Thennis said Juvik had “created a manufactured crisis,” and according to People, said, “I’m not going to check students’ undergarments. We are going to ask them to dress appropriately, and if we feel it is inappropriate, male or female, we are going to ask them to cover up.”
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