Teen Opens Up After She Was Told to Kneel For This Dress

January 24th 2016

Kylie Cheung

Sexist dress codes are making headlines again in the new year, as a Kentucky teen was forced to kneel on the floor of her principal's office to determine if her dress was "school-appropriate." Last week, 17-year-old Amanda Durbin, a senior at Edmonson County High School, came to school wearing a sweater dress that was deemed too short and was sent to be evaluated by her principal. Principal Tommy Hodges didn't see a problem with the attire at first, but still asked Durbin to walk across the room with her arms raised and then kneel down again to see if her dress would ride up. When it measured eight inches above the ground, she was sent home for violating dress code. 

That day, Durbin and some of her fellow students decided to protest the dress code by wearing dresses with leggings to show teachers that this was still an appropriate option. She opened up to Buzzfeed News about the incident. "It was kind of a protest, but it was a mature protest." At Durbin's request, her parents were present but it took them two hours to get to the school, so she was forced to wait in the office, missing many of her classes. "It did make me feel a little embarrassed, a little insecure of myself,” she said. “I didn’t really appreciate having to get down on my knees, especially while I was in a dress."


The school has since spoken out about upholding its decision, explaining the dress code has been the same for three years but now it's a top issue. "As of a teacher's meeting Wednesday afternoon, we've told the teacher's we need to be more consistent and we need to look at the dress code to make sure we're enforcing it," said Principal Tommy Hodges, according to WBKO, a local news station. "If the gap between the floor and the garment is more than six inches it's out of dress code." Of her choice to speak out about her experiences, Durbin said, "I’m hoping other girls will realize that you’re not some object."

People found the practice to be unfair and humiliating. 

In the last year, many teenage girls have come to face to face with dress code practices that are skewed to limit and focus on the parameters of "correct" attire for females. The #IAmMoreThanADistraction hashtag and the #croptopday hashtag on Twitter have both seen countless empowering posts and photos by teenage girls about their experiences with sexist double standards.

Teens across the country are fighting back to bring attention and equality to dress code policies. The #IAmMoreThanADistraction hashtag calls out the inequality in dress codes that essentially identifies young women as a "distraction" when they wear clothing that is "risky" or "provacative." Some clothing policies at schools hold female dress practices accountable for their peers' (in particular males') ability to pay attention in class. Ultimately, dress codes that aim to prevent girls from being "distractions" send the message that the education of male students is the priority, and female students must adhere to different rules to further benefit male students. At one school, females brilliantly banded together to wear "scarlet letters" to protest the dress code double standard. These various social campaigns remind us that discrimination in dress code practices is not only unjust, it unfairly directs blame for poor peer academic performance onto female students.