Mom Challenges Principal to Take 13-Year-Old Shopping After Dress Code Violation

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Dressing children is difficult. It seems like it should be fun and games to play dress-up with a child–like our kids are the American Girl dolls our parents wouldn’t let us have when we were kids–but that’s before our kids decide they won’t wear short sleeves, or the color blurple, or anything with tags. And as if dressing kids wasn’t difficult enough, schools are coming in with dress codes to tell parents what their daughters can and cannot wear. Now one annoyed mother has invited her daughter’s principal to take the 13-year-old shopping for clothes that fit her growing body, the family budget, and the principal’s dress code.

On Today, mother Catherine Pearlman shared a photo of the roomy blue Chicago Bears T-shirt and navy shorts that got her 13-year-old daughter in trouble for a dress code violation.

Dress code

Today / Catherine Pearlman

The outfit is completely innocuous. The shorts are not short-shorts, they’re just regular shorts. They reach to just below thumb-length on the 13-year-old, and if they look short on her, it’s just because the 11-year-old is already 5’7″.  Anybody who has any experience wearing clothes and having legs knows that shorts and skirts look much shorter on people with long legs than they do on people with short legs.

Pearlman’s daughter was chastised for dress code violations two days in a row, and forced to wear a pair of oversized, baggy mesh basketball shorts. Pearlman was ticked and published an open letter to the principal of her daughter’s middle school, writing:

“To reward you for treating my daughter with such concern, I am cordially inviting you to take my daughter shopping.

Here are the specifications you have to work with. I wish you loads of luck.

She is 5’7” and 13 years old. Built more like her father, she has exceptionally long legs and arms.

She doesn’t like anything pink or purple or frilly.

She won’t wear pants because she gets overheated easily. Trust me I’ve seen this. It will cause a scene in the school yard.

She absolutely will not wear a dress either.

No item of clothing can have a logo visible because to her that’s not cool. She will however, wear any type of superhero, Green Day or USFL T-shirt if you can find them. You might be able to try for an occasional Beatles reference but that’s touch and go.”

Pearlman’s daughter has rules for clothes in which she feels comfortable, and her criteria aren’t egregious. An adolescent girl who just wants shorts and T-shirts without logos and that aren’t pink or purple shouldn’t have too much trouble finding that stuff. The issue is that on top of her list of clothing criteria, all the clothes have to fit the school’s dress code, which says the girl can’t wear a tank top, and that shorts must be fingertip length. Finding fingertip-length shorts for an 8th grader who is already 5’7″ is going to be difficult, because she’s not just tall, she also has long arms and fingers.

Pearlman says she’s already checked Target, the mall, and all the nearby outlet shops, and none of them carry clothes that fit the school’s requirements. It’s a pretty frustrating amount of work to put into clothes shopping just because the school thinks shorts with a four-inch inseam are too salacious on an 8th grader.

On top of that, Pearlman is furious about the message this dress code is sending to the students, because the girls are being told that their clothing restrictions are about keeping the boys from being distracted, as though the boys’ performance and GPAs are the responsibility of the girls to take care of.

If the boys are getting distracted, maybe the school should work on getting the boys to pay attention, rather than measuring the lengths of all the girls’ clothes.

Today / Catherine Pearlman