Teen Tori DiPaolo is a senior at West Milford High School in New Jersey, a school that has a rather stringent dress code for its female students. She decided to address the sexist code — and the large number of times she has been reprimanded for violating it — in a subtle yet effective manner: her yearbook quote.
“I’m sorry, did my shoulders distract you from reading this quote?” it says below her school picture, making the funny yet obvious statement that, no: we could read the quote just fine.
Dress code: 0 pic.twitter.com/1HHgjg84AE
— Warped Tor (@tori_dipaolo) June 13, 2017
“Tori: 1, Dress code: 0,” she tweeted with a screenshot of the yearbook page, a tweet that has been retweeted hundreds of times.
Tori’s dress code prohibits “halters, half-shirts, shorts, or sweaters and blouses that expose breasts or stomachs,” Yahoo! Style reports. Shorts and skirts must be longer than extended fingertips, and “no article of clothing is permitted that exhibits rips…or holes.”
“The dress code was made for girls and boys, but the only people that ever got dress code violations were girls, so I just found it unfair and sexist,” Tori explained to Teen Vogue, detailing that the commonly-held belief that exposing too much skin is “distracting” is not only problematic but also a total myth.
“We shouldn’t be missing class due to someone objectifying us,” she continued. “While I do think it’s important to dress proper, we should all dress how we feel comfortable. If a boy can walk around in a muscle tee and not get in trouble, I should be able to wear a tank top.”
She’s right — while schools have the right to require conservative dress codes, they should not do it under the pretense that exposing skin equates with a distraction from studies, especially when that harmful assumption leads to dress codes that largely place focus on policing girls’ clothing and ignoring the boys’.
DiPaolo encourages students who face similar codes that they feel are unfair to speak out and to protest in a peaceful manner.