Teen's tweet about sexist yearbook dress codes goes viral

High school senior Eleanor Fitzwilliams is calling out a double standard when it comes to yearbook photo rules. (Photo: Twitter/Elfitzwilliams)
High school senior Eleanor Fitzwilliams is calling out a double standard when it comes to yearbook photo rules. (Photo: Twitter/Elfitzwilliams)

A high school senior is calling out sexism in a surprising place: the school yearbook.

On Monday, student Eleanor Fitzwilliams, of Verona Area High School in Verona, Wisc., shared her senior photo to Twitter. “Because you can see part of my bralette, it was deemed ‘inappropriate,'” she wrote. She contrasted her fully clothed picture with the photo of the boys’ swim team, shirtless and in Speedos, which is allegedly set to print in the yearbook.

The school required Fitzwilliams to submit a different photo, she tweeted. And the message has clearly struck a nerve with students and grads alike; her tweet has more than 30,000 retweets and 170,000 likes. The compare-and-contrast photos are just the latest to spark a debate online about why certain rules in schools apply to only female students.

In denying her photo from the yearbook, she says, the school itself is sexualizing her outfit choice. Meanwhile, the boys’ swim team is allowed to pose barely clothed with the expectation that everyone understands bare chests and tiny swim trunks to be team “uniform,” showing clear gender disparity. Plenty of commenters showed their support.

Fitzwilliams tells Yahoo Lifestyle that she first shared the photos “to vent,” but once it began to go viral, she wanted to use it to “start a conversation in my school about sexualization and dress code.” The response has been supportive — but nothing has changed (yet!).

“So far I have a lot of support from my peers and adults in my life; everyone’s really proud of me for speaking up,” she says. “The school is aware of the situation and I’ve had a few conversations with faculty, but I still need to meet with the principal.”

Yahoo Lifestyle has reached out to the school for comment and will update based upon the administration’s response.

Thanks to the tweet’s far reach, though, Fitzwilliams learned she isn’t alone. “One of the most significant things about my post was that I found I wasn’t alone in this struggle because there were many girls who replied to my tweet citing similar incidents with their dress code and administration,” she said.

Other responders shared their high school dress code stories. One young woman wasn’t allowed to take her senior wrestling photo in a singlet — unlike all of her male teammates. Another says she was asked to wear a shirt in the water during a swimming field trip, when the boys were allowed to go without. While every situation is different, the basis is the same (though not new): Women, even high school students, aren’t afforded the same privileges as the men in their lives.

Even though these issues are still pervasive, one can only hope that schools will get the message through Twitter and social media culture.

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