Bardot style tops have been a huge trend not only this summer, but for the last few years. The shoulder-baring style has been everywhere you look on the high street and so, naturally, young women everywhere have been embracing it.
But when the female students of San Benito High School in California started back after their summer holidays earlier this month, they were shocked to find that apparently shoulders are still seen as scandalous in 2017, and against the school’s dress code.
According to a tweet from a student’s family member, @brandy41395, the first day of the new term saw 20 girls sent home for exposing their shoulders – something which the student body has identified as sexist, with many female students feeling targeted because of their gender.
But San Benito students weren’t going to let this be just another example of a women’s sartorial choices being dictated for her, so they decided to make a stand – and what a stand they made.
In an encouraging act of solidarity, male students at the high school came into classes wearing the popular off-the-shoulder style to support their female classmates who had been previously reprimanded for doing so.
Male students have been using social media to document themselves rocking the Bardot look, with some even speaking to publications such as Teen Vogue about why “women should be able to wear what they want without being systemically objectified” – hear, hear.
Andrei Vladimirov, a student at the high school, made some insightful comments about his reasons for joining the protest, even asking for press emphasis to stay on the issue in hand – sexism.
He told Teen Vogue, “A lot of people want to emphasise the male students’ part in this protest, which I respect, but the purpose of this whole thing was to protest sexism against female students.”
Vladimirov continued to explain how important it is to recognise every act of sexism, saying, “Not being able to wear a certain type of shirt may seem like a minor problem to some people, but it is representative of something much larger in society – the fact that women are still, today, being subjected to the dominance of male ideology.
“Women deserve to be treated with the utmost respect, and this entails being able to dress as one pleases. Women should be able to wear what they want without being systemically objectified.”
We couldn’t have said it better ourselves, and clearly the actions and thoughtful words of both female and male students have struck a chord with the school, which published an open letter on Facebook addressing the protest and issue around sexist dress codes.
The letter states that concerns “we are not allowing strapless shirts because it is a distraction to male students” are untrue, and that the dress code has been in place for “several years” as a “goal to prevent the possibility of any student from being a victim of any incident where they could intentionally or unintentionally be humiliated”.
If so, it’s still a pretty worrying message and misguided reason to tell young women what they can wear, assuming that being “humiliated” in a strapless top is to do with student’s having their tops pulled down. Which, last time we checked, is suggesting that it is a woman’s responsibility to dress in a way which does not attract assault, instead of making it clear that this behaviour isn’t acceptable in the first place.
The letter does however say that “this is one of several areas in our dress code that need improved” and that the school will be giving students a more active role in the dress code in future.
What’s more, one eagle-eyed student has noticed that it seems common for female students to wear off-the-shoulder tops in their yearbook photos, and has posted a video to Twitter.
Watch: 11 ways to shut down a sexist
Sadly this is just one of many examples of sexist dress codes in schools, but we hope this protest from both the young men and women at San Benito high school is an example that shows sexism is everyone’s issue if we want to achieve gender equality.
Images: Makhmutova Dina