Chloe Cross was fed up. Fed up with her school’s dress code, fed up with being harassed by boys, fed up with being punished for what she wore. But she didn’t run to the media or get her parents to complain; she found a sly, funny and much more effective way of getting her message across that she shouldn’t be shamed for her clothing.
Cross posted a picture to Tumblr of her yearbook from San Mateo High School, about 20 miles south of San Francisco, with a senior quote that struck at the core of every young girl’s argument that dress codes are sexist and send the wrong message.
It read, "I would just like to apologize to those who were unable to graduate with the class of 2015 because they were too distracted by my midriff and consequently failed all of their classes! xoxo"
Yahoo Canada talked to Cross about her quote, and the issue of dress codes in general.
Yahoo Canada: How did you manage to slide this past the school administrators?
Cross: I was lucky enough to have a good relationship with a classmate of mine who was overseeing senior quote submissions. I mentioned to her that mine was a little risky but it was important to me that it got into the yearbook, so when it came down to the yearbook teacher deciding which quotes needed to be altered or removed I think it definitely helped that I had her on my side. I knew that if certain administrators were in charge of senior quotes it wouldn't have been approved, but fortunately it was left up to the yearbook class.
Yahoo Canada: Were you surprised it made it into the yearbook?
Cross: I was definitely surprised that it made it into the book, especially since it was an intentionally snarky dig at the administration. I sort of expected to be spoken to about it or asked to change it, but perhaps the teacher making final decisions on the quotes agreed with my sentiment.
I wanted to leave behind something meaningful and important to me as my senior quote, so that people would remember me as the girl who gave the administration hell until the last possible moment.
Yahoo Canada: Where did you get the idea for the quote?
Cross: I got the idea for the quote from the bizarre rationalization that administrators use when punishing girls for violating dress code, which is that they are being "distracting" and making it "hard for others to learn." Obviously if it was so hard for students to learn after seeing a midriff or a pair of legs, girls need to take full responsibility for preventing their classmates from graduation, right? I wanted to emphasize how stupid it sounds to blame the way that people, especially girls, dress for the academic failure of their peers. Nobody from my class would be going to college if bodies were as distracting as the administration makes them out to be.
Yahoo Canada: Has the dress code been a constant problem at school for you and your fellow students?
Cross: I really didn't start to notice how awful the dress code was until last year, and how sexist the enforcement is. Fellow students have been quietly expressing discontent over the illogical rules and unfair punishment, but few of us have actually spoken to the administration about it and made an attempt to explain why people were so disgruntled. The girls at my school suffer the most, especially those that have long legs or larger chests. Girls are being objectified and sexualized every day by teachers and the administration, and even though people aren't always talking about it I definitely think it is always a problem.
Yahoo Canada: Did you ever get harassed by students over what you wore to school?
Cross: I distinctly remember an instance a couple years ago when a girl walked up to me, tugged on my shorts, and said "whore". It was hot out and I was wearing something I was comfortable in, and somehow that made someone feel as though they were entitled to harass me. Some of the most hurtful things were said to me after I started speaking out about the dress code, though, like that I was begging for attention and deserved to be harassed or singled out. I've been physically harassed just based on my clothing as well, and it will never make sense to me that anyone sees a female classmate bending down in shorts and thinks it's appropriate to slap her butt.
Yahoo Canada: Was the yearbook quote a fun joke or was it a way to fight back one last time?
Cross: My quote was not a joke; although it was worded in a sarcastic and humorous way, I was truly trying to get a message across about sexism in my school (and others) and how genuinely stupid I find the defence of the dress code to be. I wanted to leave behind something meaningful and important to me as my senior quote, so that people would remember me as the girl who gave the administration hell until the last possible moment. Why shouldn't I have said something that makes people think about why they blame girls for distracting boys instead of boys for lacking the self control to remain on task?