It’s one thing to have a dress code in middle school. It’s an entirely different thing to have middle school teachers give girls the side eye for what they’re wearing. That’s what happened when 13-year-old Grace Villegas, from Wichita, Kan., wore a new off-the-shoulder Charlotte Russe shirt to school this week.
“I just wish one of them would have pulled me aside and said, ‘Hey, can you go check about this? See if it’s all right,’ instead of giving me looks that made me uncomfortable in my own skin,” she told Yahoo Style. Some teachers made comments about the amount of chest and shoulders she was showing, and eventually, Villegas decided to change into a different shirt.
When she got home and told her parents and sisters about it, they were all upset about how it was handled. Elder sister Isabella, 18, took some unconventional action. She took out a marker and made Grace a T-shirt that says, “Dress code: promotes the objectification and sexualization of young bodies, blames the wearer for the onlooker’s perceptions/actions, perpetuates rape culture, is BS.”
She got the first three bullet points from articles she’d read, and, yeah, that last one is her own. Then, of course, she tweeted out a photo of her project.
my 13 year old sister was dress coded for her shirt today for "revealing too much chest and shoulder" so i made her a shirt to change into pic.twitter.com/NdRQws91HB
— isabella rossellini (@bellavillegas_) March 13, 2017
“Showing the girls that it’s their problem that the boys are getting excited, it’s their fault that the boys can’t handle it, taking time away from their education just so the boys can get a better education — it’s just teaching them so many things that are wrong,” Isabella said.
Isabella has gleaned such feminist notions from both her mother — who privately shares her opinions, but doesn’t express them openly — and her own research. Now, the high school senior feels she needs to educate Grace and Grace’s twin, Gaby, before she leaves them for college in the fall.
“I’m not saying my reaction was the most appropriate, but they should be informed, and I encourage them to do research of their own and know what their rights are and … how to go about standing up for themselves,” she said.
Grace seems to appreciate the lesson, to a point. She has the shirt ready to wear at school but said she probably won’t. “I want to stand up for what it says, but I don’t want to start a problem that could potentially get me in trouble,” she said.
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