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May 23, 2010
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I'm standing in the west hallway of my high school, back straight with my hands pressed against my sides and my fingers extended. Our vice principal looks at my with scrutiny, her eyes suspicious as she looks at my hands, then elbows, then shoulders. My face heats up as people filter through the hall on their way to class and look on. Some laugh, some don't even care, and some stop to watch this rare event. She looks at me from other angles, seemingly trying to find a way that I'm contorting my arms to make them shorter. By this point we both know that I'm the victor in this battle, which unfortunately means she won't write me a pass to my next class out of spite.

She dismisses me, and I hang my head in embarrassment as I try to scramble to class. My heart is pounding still, even though the whole time I knew that I wasn't going to get in trouble. I had checked the length of my shorts at least forty times that morning to make sure that there was no way I was breaking the dress code. Before I'm out of her sight, I see her pass through a crowd of short, stick thin girls with shorts so short that they look more like underwear. She doesn't say anything.

For my entire life I have been known as "that tall girl". By the age of ten I was five feet three inches tall, the current height of my best friend at the age of sixteen. No boy was ever taller than me until I hit middle school and hormones started raging. Now, at sixteen, I stand at five feet ten inches.

Having grown faster, I also matured faster than the other girls. I grew my womanly assets in fully in seventh grade, so I was never the stick thin, Hollister wearing girl that seemed to be the norm at my school. Currently a size eight, I still don't match the other girls. I'm not a size zero, or two, or four, and I have the kind of chest where its size is clear even under t-shirts. I'm not small or petite in any sense.

These simple facts about me seem to set me apart from the rest in the eyes of the administration.

For whatever reason, being tall and having curves makes me subject to a different set of rules. I could wear a regular long sleeve shirt, no v-neck, and sweatpants and if I moved a certain way and a bit of my hip would show momentarily, I'd be immediately reprimanded for showing my navel. But as for the stick thin girls wearing belly shirts? Nothing. I'd wear a v-neck with a shirt underneath, and if the shirt got low enough to even show the line where my cleavage started, I'd be descended upon by staff and told to pull up my shirt because I was showing too much. As for the girls with the B-cup chests and deep v-necks without anything underneath? Nothing.

Shorts are a class of their own. I never wear shorts that break the dress code, purely out of modesty. Of course I own shorts that are too short, but I don't wear them to school. Every morning before school I perform checks to make sure that no matter which way I move, my bottoms never rise higher than my fingertips. Despite this, I get pulled over and checked. Maybe it's because, in comparison, it looks like I'm showing more just because the exposed area of my leg is usually longer than an entire leg of one of my classmates.

Regardless, it's no real excuse. Why do I get pulled over and checked, while girls who have shorts that clearly break the dress code never even get a second look? Why is it okay for a small, skinny girl to wear a skirt that barely covers her butt and yet I can't wear anything above the knee? Why can a different girl wear a strapless mini dress, breaking two school rules, while I can't wear a tank top and shorts?

I know it's not just at my school. Teachers and staff everywhere always talk about the importance of dressing right for school; my school even has weekly announcements to remind us of the rules. Yet, despite all this, rules being broken are ignored every single day. And, for whatever reason, seeing me brings them back to reality long enough to perform a check.

Am I an example for the rest? A threat, maybe? If that's the case it has done nothing. I've been standing next to girls with skirts and shorts that can barely be considered clothing and still been the only one singled out. Why am I so different? Does how good you look in your outfit influence it's eligibility to be exempt from the rules?

I know having more cleavage means that I have more to show off and therefore more to cover up. I know I have longer legs so I need to buy longer shorts. But if what I am wearing is fully within the rules, why am I treated like I'm dressed like a stripper?

This isn't just about me. This is about the inaction of teachers and staff everywhere, and the ignoring of rules by everyone. If people know they can get away with something, they'll do it. There are without a doubt plenty of girls who love this privilege, but there are also those of us who get burned in the process.

One day I will wear a pair of shorts that are too short, even if it's just by half an inch. I won't do it out of spite, but it is bound to happen. And on that day I'll get pulled over, as usual, and for the first time I'll see the face of the administration looking onto me with victory. It will be smug and contorted, teeth sharp and eyes dark. It will have no remorse. Together we'll walk among the other students as they whisper. I'll watch all the girls with the low cut shirts and too short shorts and the tight dresses and they'll look back at me without emotion. As long as it's not you, it doesn't matter.

That day I'll sit in the principal's office. He'll look at me with his authoritative stare and lecture me about decency. He'll tell me to change and threaten me with detention and a call to my parents. The vice principal will be behind him, staring me down. She'll be smirking at me in victory, finally being able to show her authority over me.

I won't change. I won't go to detention. I'll let him call my parents, knowing they'll support my side. I'll make a deal with him. I'll tell him that if he can find five girls, just five, who are wearing shorts that are within the dress code, I will change. Not only will I change, but I'll never wear shorts that hit above the knee again. He'll look at me skeptically, and the vice principal will without a doubt look at me with disbelief and disgust. Her sharp mouth will be aching to open and chide me for my disrespect. But she won't say anything.

And I'll stand there with the principal and watch and watch and watch. And I will wait, quietly, because I will know that I have won.

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This article has 5 comments. Post your own now!

temp name said...
Jun. 6, 2010 at 12:57 am
Wow, wonderfully written.  This is to true.  Some times, its not even our bodies that convivt us, but rather our belifs(as a matter of fact my friends and I just went through something lie this).
xcourtneyx73 replied...
Jun. 25, 2010 at 10:07 pm

thank you for the compliment :)

You're point is very true, and it seems like more and more people are facing similiar situations. I'm sorry you had to deal with something close to this. It really sucks :/

emilysbreakfast said...
Jun. 4, 2010 at 10:38 pm

what a strong and truthful piece! i understand where you are coming from, even though i would be considered one of those small girls, because our school has always had strict dress codes. 

while annoying, I don't feel like ours is usually discriminative, it seems like everyone gets called out, and often. 

One day you probably won't care so much about being singled  out because you'll realize how lucky you are to be tall and curvy...this coming from someone who can... (more »)

emilysbreakfast replied...
Jun. 4, 2010 at 10:39 pm
sorry about the repeating! i don't know why my account keeps doing that.
xcourtneyx73 replied...
Jun. 4, 2010 at 10:43 pm

thank you for the comment :)

yeah I've noticed some schools are better, and some don't call out anyone at all. it's interesting how some schools have the same rules but are so different in how to enforce them.

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