A few days before school started, my daughter Annie and I joined the kids and their parents who filled the school auditorium for seventh-grade orientation, excited and expectant, as the principal and assistant principal prepped us on school policies. They spent a lot of time on the dress code: “Girls, listen up, because our dress code violators are almost always girls. Nothing sleeveless at all. Even if it’s not a tank top. If it doesn’t have sleeves, you’ll be wearing the scrubs. If your skirt or shorts are more than five inches above your knees, you’ll be wearing the scrubs. Some girls last year used to think that it was okay to walk around looking wearing leggings, looking like Kim Kardashian or Buddy the Elf, but if you wear leggings this year, you’ll be wearing the scrubs. Same with sheer tops, even if you wear a tank top underneath. ” Cheerleaders (in tank tops and tiny skirts) shared the stage with the administrators as they explained the policy.
She had her first day of school outfit planned weeks in advance– a black skater skirt measuring exactly three inches above the knees, a colorful t-shirt, and ballet flats. They sat on the chair in her room, a signal that summer was drawing to an end.
I greeted her at the door when she got home after school, “How was your first day?”
She was quiet. Too quiet. Something was up.
“Was it good to see your friends again?”
“Yeah. . . . But I think I almost got in trouble.”
Annie isn’t a girl who gets in trouble. She would probably do just about anything to avoid being in trouble. “Really? What happened?”
“I was walking down the hall, and this guy, a teacher but I don’t know which one, called out to me and said that my skirt looked too short.”