Indiana mom Jennifer Smith fought back against the administration when this permission slip was sent home with very specific instructions about appropriate swimwear.
Cover up all those 12-year-old good citizens from head to toe! (via Babble)
Jennifer Smith got this invitation from her son's elementary school and was pretty surprised to read this, under the proclamation that the students of Rhoades Elementary were being rewarded for hard work and good citizenship:
All girls must wear a non-white t-shirt over their swimsuit.
What. The. Hell. Smith has a son, but she was unwilling to support the message that girls should cover their bodies at the damn pool. She took her concerns to the school, first contacting the principal. They gave her these explanations:
“Due to the varying sizes of students at this age, [making T-shirts mandatory] takes away the ability of kiddos making fun of others for wearing a shirt [since] everyone is required to wear one."
Yeah. Everyone. Except boys. The Huffington Post got this response from a district spokesperson:
"We know that for many of our families, buying an extra [one-piece] swimsuit for their children would be a luxury they cannot afford. To address the issue of appropriate dress for the swim party, we believed asking the girls to wear T-shirts over their swimsuits was the solution that addressed the issue most sensitively."
Then why did you specify the t-shirts not be white? Isn't it possible a boy might not have a swimsuit, either? Why even go to the pool, if we're worried about what people have the clothes to participate in?
Never mind, these are all bullsh*t excuses. Most pools do not even allow people to swim in t-shirts! And before the school even started with, "Think of the fat and poor kids," line, they told Smith in an email that in the past girls had worn "very inappropriate swimsuits and covering up takes care of that issue." The issue of a woman's body being so sexualized that a 12-year-old can't wear a SWIMSUIT to the POOL.
Look how inappropriately clothed these human bodies are! Don't they know they have breasts that school officials can't stop thinking about? (via Thinkstock)
Is America actually going backwards and getting MORE puritanical? I very distinctly remember being in the sixth grade at a pool party. Some girls and boys wore t-shirts. I didn't. And it was the first time I ever caught a boy staring at my pubic hair, since I was too innocent to have heard of a bikini wax. An awkward lesson, but one I learned without being body-policed by the administration.
Yes, the note says "no Speedos" which can be assumed to be for boys, but again, they never specify anything gender-wise for the male students to wear. Lord knows, middle school boys love speedos, so maybe these double standards are actually really fair and balanced? Smith suggested that they make t-shirts mandatory for both boys and girls, if all their reasonings behind the policy were valid. She wrote to them:
I am not sure if you are aware of the emotional hardship that is caused by [telling] young girls their bodies are inappropriate and must be covered...Setting one standard for half of the student body only promotes the idea that girls bodies are naturally shameful, and helps to send a very damaging message.
The school changed their policy. Jennifer Smith made a difference in how young girls are treated and that is amazing. T-shirts were optional for the trip and according to Smith's son, no one wore one. Hope nobody was too offended by kids frolicking in the sun with their shoulders and bellies exposed!