Making a Mountain Out of a Miniskirt

This girl needs to learn how to pick her battles and her mom needs some parenting lessons.

"A fourth-grader is protesting a rule by her school principal that bans the kinds of miniskirts she likes to wear. Zoe Hinkle, 10, and her mother, Leslie, say there’s nothing wrong with the skirt. It has shorts sewn into it underneath, Leslie says."

The editorial staff at the Pitt News summed up my feelings well.

"Zoe isn’t rallying to keep an arts program alive. She isn’t holding signs demanding healthier food in the cafeteria or better cages for class gerbils."

"Nope. This little girl is rallying for the right to wear her miniskirts to class. She got in trouble for having skirts that were too short last fall, and this spring the principal, Claire Miller, informed the school’s girls that their skirts must fall below the knee."

"Zoe’s mother sees nothing wrong with her daughter’s fashionable outfits, most of which come from Limited Too. The skirts, she says, have shorts sewn in under them and none of her daughter’s clothing is provocative."

"People can judge this for themselves; a photograph of the miniskirted girl is available on the Tribune-Review’s Web site. Although she is only 10 – still years away from being a teen-ager – she is dressed to fit in at any college party."

"No one is an adult at 10-years-old. Children do not get to make all of their own decisions and do not always understand the implications of their actions. Zoe’s mother, and the mothers of many of these girls, should know better than to dress their children in the sort of clothing that may elicit stares from older men. They owe it to their daughters to explain what the consequences of wearing certain styles can be."

"Instead of getting hyped up about proving how right she is, Zoe and her peers should be learning to respect the authority of school officials. It’s difficult to know where to draw the line when it comes to dress codes – every school measures things differently – but the principal has made this decision in the best interest of the students she is responsible for."

"Whether the idea to rally was Zoe’s idea or her mother’s, the fact remains that it is a misguided attempt. That a young child values her rights this much is admirable – but these rights do not extend to school grounds. If the principal says knee-length or longer then that’s the rule, regardless of the Constitution."

PittGirl offers some good insights as well.

"Let the girls — whose parents are cool with them wearing short skirts — buy the skirts in whatever length they wish because that is freedom of expression. But a good life lesson is this, you don’t always get to wear what you want. For instance, I would like to wear jeans and flipflops to work and for this reason alone I have begun a campaign to get hired at American Eagle. But currently, I must dress in business attire because that is what I am told to do. Now sure, I can show my hot self up at work tomorrow in my torn jeans and my cute little flipflops, but I’ll probably get reprimanded for it."

"So if that were my daughter I would tell her this: leave your miniskirts for your weekends at the mall but if your school says it is too short, tough cookies, sweetie. Life is unfair. Now get to school."

She also links to a video of the protest’s aftermath. Miss Hinkle was a bit distraught at the low turnout and cried "like someone ran over her puppy", saying, "This is something really big and really important. I thought I was going to have a good protest. I worked so hard."

Really important? Local blogger Alektra disagrees.

"YOU’RE IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL! WHAT DO YOU NEED A MINISKIRT FOR?…Maybe, Ms. Hinkle, you should teach your daughter to stop protesting good school rules and stop letting your daughter follow overly sexual trends when she’s TEN. Maybe she could, oh, I don’t know, study or do the things you talked about on TV – ballet and ice skating. Just don’t tell me that you really plan to send your daughter into school in a tutu and tights and expect the other kids not to be distracted from THEIR studies."

Ironically, Mr and Mrs. Hinkle blame the principal for sexualizing their daughter.

"In today’s society, our children are forced to grow up rapidly. We feel that it is totally inappropriate that a figure of authority has the right to instill the perception upon a then 9-year-old that she should think of herself in a sexual context."

"The reality of the world will come in due time and we, as parents of a teenager, are well armed to handle that certainty. We do not feel that it is the job of an elementary school principal to take it upon herself to decide when adolescents become young adults."

Huh?  There are lots of forces in society pressuring kids to grow up too fast, most of which are related to the media.  Zoe no doubt learned how to dress provacatively from watching girls and women do likewise on TV and in movies.  I’m sure she experiences a lot of peer pressure to fit in, too.  Instead of protesting the principal for taking a stand to protect those in his charge, why don’t you work toward making women realize that they are not defined by their sexiness or lack thereof, Mrs. Hinkle?  Do you want Zoe to end up like these girlsA recent study showed that hypersexualized media lead kids to explore their sexuality at earlier ages.

"Sexually charged music, magazines, TV and movies push youngsters into intercourse at an earlier age, perhaps by acting as kind of virtual peer that tells them everyone else is doing it, a study said Monday."

[…]

"In general it found that the highest exposure levels led to more sexual activity, with white teens in the group 2.2 times more likely to have had intercourse at ages 14 to 16 than similar youngsters who had the least exposure."

[…]

"The teenage pregnancy rate in the United States is three to 10 times higher than that found in other industrialized nations, making that and exposure to sexually transmitted infections a major public health concern, the study said.

"At the same time parents tend not to talk about sex with their children in a timely and comprehensive way, leaving a vacuum in which the media may become a powerful sex educator, providing ‘frequent and compelling portraits of sex as fun and risk free.’"

[…]

"Youngsters ‘may begin to believe the world view portrayed and may begin to adopt the media’s social norms as their own. Some, especially those who have fewer alternative sources of sexual norms, such as parents or friends, may use the media as a kind of sexual superpeer that encourages them to be sexually active,’ the report added."

Contrast this inane protest with the Abercrombie & Fitch girlcott. Was it a little frivolous? Perhaps. The cause of combatting sexism and glorification of promiscuity was good, though. These little brats don’t realize that they’re buying into the same misogynistic agenda. The crybaby’s setting herself to be a sex object for the rest of her life. I pity her and I would love to slap the taste out of her mom’s mouth.

Comments 6

  1. Peter wrote:

    I suppose the purpose of not letting a girl wear short skirts to school is to avoid sexual objectification.

    But she’s ten years old.

    Wait a minute. If she’s not allowed, at ten years old, to wear short skirts because she might be construed sexually, isn’t that an admission by all of the authorities involved that a ten year old girl in a short skirt can be too sexy? But wait, I thought finding young girls attractive was Pure Evil™, right? (I mean, what about that fellow from Homeland Security who was busted for talking to an imaginary underage girl?)

    No, that can’t be it. Right? But if we put her in the same short skirt, took a picture, and then plastered her picture on a bunch of merchandise in order to induce consumers to buy, would people complain? Nobody complained about Abercrombie and Fitch until their pictures started to look not just like kids in not enough clothing, but like kids in not enough clothing and doing things that they shouldn’t be doing.

    The kid is cute. She likes wearing the short skirt. God knows why. I don’t really care. She’s ten freaking years old; she can’t think for herself yet, not if she’s a product of public schools at least. The mother is the “brains” behind the operation. I know a few mothers like that. They’re dimwitted fools who think the only way for their daughters to be successful is by turning them into sex symbols.

    Is she on the road to sexual objectification and ruin? I don’t know, nor do I care. But the fact that adults are worried that a ten year old girl can possibly look too sexy is a complete betrayal of the idea that people who find little girls sexually attractive are some how deviants, isn’t it? I imagine a bunch of grown men sitting around pulling at their collars and dabbing sweat from their foreheads, wishing that ten year old girl in the short skirt would just cover up, but then turning around and decrying child pornography. Hypocrites.

    Posted 12 Apr 2006 at 11:57 am
  2. Funky Dung wrote:

    “I imagine a bunch of grown men sitting around pulling at their collars and dabbing sweat from their foreheads, wishing that ten year old girl in the short skirt would just cover up, but then turning around and decrying child pornography. Hypocrites.”

    You’ve missed the point. With the right clothes and makeup, a 10-yr-old girl can look like a teenager, thus opening her up to sexual advances from teenage boys. A little girl should be more worried about looking cute or being comfortable than looking fashionable or sexy. Kids are becoming sexually active at younger and younger ages and most parents are oblivious to it. Instead of helping her daughter protest the principal’s decision, she should have explained to her daughter why she shouldn’t be trying so hard to be fashionalble, because fashion is so tied to sexuality. Ten is old enough to talk about birds and bees. She’ll be having her period soon if she hasn’t already. Better she learn before the hormones kick in than after, anyway.

    Anyhow, this isn’t a matter of hypocritical letches trying to avoid tempation. It’s about protecting innocence. The poor girl doesn’t know any better. Her parents should know better and take responsibility for protecting her. They failed to, so the principal stepped in. That’s his right and I applaud him for it.

    Posted 12 Apr 2006 at 12:18 pm
  3. Peter wrote:

    Itís about protecting innocence.

    Only if you believe innocence actually exists, or is worth protecting. Having worked in classrooms with children as young as kindergarten, I was often shocked by the things kids know or can infer, and then talk about amongst each other. And when I think back to my own experiences growing up, I can’t remember ever not knowing what sex was about.

    I think this ten year old girl knows exactly why she likes the miniskirt (and I suspect her classmates do, too). What I don’t think she understands is why it’s an issue or whether it should be one. That will take her ten or fifteen more years to figure out.

    Posted 12 Apr 2006 at 12:52 pm
  4. advogado de diabo wrote:

    First, I have to say I had forgotten how bad the local news was in Pittsburgh. I can’t believe how much time they spent on a crying ten year old.

    I think this ten year old girl knows exactly why she likes the miniskirt

    True, thinking back to when I was ten, I was sexually attracted to the girls in my class. Its easy to forget what was going on in your mind back then.

    no doubt learned how to dress like a slut

    I think this comment in unnecessarily harsh and inaccurate.

    Finally as much as I hated wearing uniforms in grade school, and enjoyed checking out girls in minskirts, I think uniforms should be mandatory in public schools. That would take care of this issue and a bunch of others at the same time.

    Posted 12 Apr 2006 at 7:50 pm
  5. Funky Dung wrote:

    I’m always surprised and impressed by who ends up correcting me when I get to cynical or cranky. Thanks for doing your part, Advogado. Consider the issue addressed. :)

    Posted 12 Apr 2006 at 10:17 pm
  6. Mark La Roi wrote:

    When I blogged about this her parents (or someone pretending to be her father) responded and I’ll summarize what my reply:

    It is about sex but it’s also about priority. She’s not there to be a fashion plate no matter how important that is to a girl. She’s there to learn and has not only disrupted (with the help of her mother) her own learning, but also that of the kids around her. For what? To wear a short skirt.

    Priorities way out of order and being reinforced at home.

    Posted 13 Apr 2006 at 7:17 pm

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