The Politics of Middle School Leggings Activism

Somehow I missed Amanda Hess’s recent article, Middle-School Girls Picket for the Right to Wear Leggings. It may seem a little thing, but the little things are often also the most achievable. Today Amanda followed up on the issue with another article, Talking With 13-Year-Old Leggings Activist Sophie Hasty. Interviewee Sophie Hastings has only just hit her teens, but I found her amazingly perceptive.

First, Sophie explains how she got involved in leggings activism—and why leggings became a dress code violation in the first place.

Last year, I never really paid attention to the dress code. But this year, teachers started to get stricter about it and giving stupid reasons for it. The reason was basically: “boys.” It’s a lot like saying that if guys do something to harass us, it’s our fault for that. We’re the ones being punished for what guys do. My friends and I got mad about it, and we would talk about it often earlier in the year, but we didn’t think we could really do anything about it.

Sophie explains that if girls get dress-coded for wearing leggings, they are required to put their blue gym shorts on over their leggings.

It’s humiliating to walk around the hallways wearing bright blue shorts. Boys yell “dress code!” when they see you. They act more inappropriate when you’re walking around in blue shorts when you’ve gotten dress-coded than when you’re just wearing leggings. I asked a teacher to tell us about an incident where a girl was wearing leggings and a guy was getting distracted. There hasn’t been one.

Finally, Sophie goes on to explain that the boys, too, are against the dress code—but not for the reasons you might think.

They think the dress code is against them, too, because they don’t like having it blamed on them by teachers, being told that the dress code is their fault. They don’t think it’s fair to them or us.

Those are some perceptive middle school boys, I have to say.

I could definitely get into purity culture, and modesty rules, and how these things play into the idea that women are responsible for men’s actions and that women are partly to blame for their own rapes if they were dressed sexy or flirting, etc., but I really think I’d rather leave this short and simple.

Do read the whole interview! I’m definitely a Sophie Hasty fan now. :)

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