Educating the WHS Community on the Negative Effects of Body Shaming through the Dress Code Policy

Alixe Cecchini '23, Lead Tech Editor

My experience:
Hi, my name is Alixe Cecchini and I’m a junior at Westborough. I want to tell my experience as being someone who has felt uncomfortable in this high school. I think a lot of girls in our high school sees or experiences the bias of the school dress code. The code essentially ist telling us what to wear and how our bodies should be covered up. There is an underlying message “to not distract others with your body.” This messaging actually causes negative effects of body shaming to a lot of girls.

This has been an ongoing thing in Westborough, with small comments or just a side eye from people. But to go deeper into that, if you have a bigger chest, people seem to think that is an invitation to stare or to be able to comment on that person’s body. As someone with a bigger chest, I can say that there’s been so many times when I felt very uncomfortable in the environment I was in. Also, having a bigger chest for some reason seems to be a target of dress coding. A lot of people don’t understand that shirts are often fitted for people with smaller chests. And if two people were wearing the same shirt, but one has a bigger chest, that person is a lot more likely to be dress coded or given a side eye.

That’s not to say it only happens to people with bigger chest, a lot of the girls in this school whatever they look like or dress like have been subjected to either a bias dress code or comments that has made them uncomfortable. I think a really helpful piece of advice I was given was: no one can tell you how to feel, you should never feel like you’ve overreacted because no one can tell you have to react, and you get to decide how to react to a situation.
For example, I recently was told a comment about my chest that completely made me uncomfortable. I don’t believe the student intended to be mean, but I ended up in the hall trying to hold back my tears and thinking “I can’t ever go back to that class.” I was on the phone with my mom crying, barely able to get the words out of my mouth.

The next day when I came back, I felt so embarrassed that many people saw me cry, and I was scared people would only think I was overreacting. These feelings make you feel really lonely and makes you feel like no one understand how you feel. So I really hope to emphasize that there’s no such thing as overreacting, no one can tell you how to react to a situation you were put in.

We need to do more…
I think our school does an okay job when it comes to someone speaking out, but sometimes you don’t want to speak out because you have been shamed about your body. Our school needs to reassess our dress code policy. We are taught in our health classes that we shouldn’t be ashamed of our bodies, but the dress code policy enforces a different message. It would help a lot of us if the school further educated our community on not sexualizing female bodies. We want our girls to feel confident about themselves and be able to express themselves in all areas of their lives.