It's September, which means back to school, which means yet more shaming of young women for the crime of having bodies.
It's a tale as old as time, but for 15-year-old Miranda Larkin, the story took a disturbing twist. ABC News reports that Larkin, who is a sophomore at Oakleaf High School in Orange Park, Fla., was recently forced to don a "shame suit" on her third day at a new school after being told by administrators that her skirt was too short.
This "dress-code-violation outfit" consisted of "a neon-yellow t-shirt with 'DRESS CODE VIOLATION' emblazoned on the front of it in capital letters," and, according to Larkin, is "supposed to embarrass" students.
That's right. School officials publicly humiliated a young woman for wearing a skirt.
Whether it's shorts, leggings or dress length, girls are, unfortunately, told to change their appearance all the time. What is disturbing about this practice isn't the concept of a dress code per se, but rather the subtext that such codes are necessary because girls' bodies are distracting or shameful.
What's more, although Larkin's skirt did indeed violate the dress code, ABC reports that "the violation was unintentional. She was a new student to the school, having just moved to Florida from Seattle eight days before school started."
Neither Larkin nor her mother disagree with disciplinary action in general. But while a school district spokesman told ABC that students are given multiple options after a violation, Larkin insists that she was given only the choice of public shaming — a pretty excessive form of punishment under the circumstances. The teenager subsequently became so upset that she cried and broke out in hives.
Dianna Larkin told ABC News that her daughter "actually has a perfect disciplinary record. I'm not a rescue mom. I really do believe in punishing my kids if they do something wrong, but this is not about punishing kids. This is about humiliation."
She continued, "This is harmful practice and it doesn't teach anything. It doesn't have any intrinsic educational value." She's right. Say what you will about dress codes, humiliation like this is never the answer.