Lately, the subject of what parents (always pointed toward women) wear to drop their offspring off at school is a hot topic - aren't we lucky? Another way we as women get to be judged (yay!). It started, when a school board member in Florida tried to impose mandatory dress codes for parents at school drop-off. The proposals were denied, but not without controversy.
Because I capture parent style through my blog, www.hautedropoff.com and I'm the "self-described" queen of school drop-off, The Huffington Post asked me to join a panel discussing the subject of parent dress codes. (http://live.huffingtonpost.com/r/segment/should-parents-have-a-dress-code/534e991302a760a520000061)
My opinion then and now is consistent, I find these rules the Broward County school board member tried to pass to be a combination of sexism, economic prejudice and a crime against individuality and style. I also feel it's another way to shame women - something that's way too common and accepted.
As my kids get older and more aware, I do recognize that my attire may err on the side of too sexy, but that's my choice. And if my kids are embarrassed, then it's also my choice to humiliate them. How do you think Sofia Vergaras's son felt when his sexy mother took him to school? As adults, we have the right to wear what we want. I felt stifled as a kid in a strict private school, and constantly was in detention for making my uniform skirt too short and wearing huge heels. Unfortunately, a clumsy girl who didn't learn to walk in stripper heels like me, fell down the stairs at school and broke her leg, causing a permanent ban of all heels at school. At 5'2, heels were a necessity, and this ban was traumatizing. But I was a child and "had" to follow rules. I didn't like these rules, and frequently felt the consequence was worth my right (as I believed) to exert my free expression. So I spent a lot of time in detention, where I learned skills in negotiation, stealing car parts, and informal tattoo implementation, all while wearing six inch stilettos.
And then I grew up, and you know what the best thing about being an adult is?..... You can pretty much do what you want when it comes to what you wear, including dropping your kids off at school donning hair rollers and a trench coat. This style of dress may cause psychological damage to your child, but that's the choice of a parent, not a stuffy school board member.
Although the Florida Board Member's request wasn't passed, the judgment of what women wear, in general and at school drop-off, seems to be an area where the general public feels they have a say. Not to dive into my Sociology education, but these types of rules aimed obviously at women, perpetuate the structural oppression of women. Additionally, the mere possibility of rules such as these, promote a culture of continued shame and judgment directed at women. Also, making it acceptable for us as a society to feel like it's more than okay to judge women's attire.
I've experienced this first-hand, I think it's safe to say that all women have been the recipients of judgment for their clothing, mostly by other females. When it happened to me as an adult, as a mother - I was quite surprised. I was judged, accused of being a young au pair (fine, I like that part) and ignored for my style at school drop-off. It was the teachers and nannies who accepted me immediately, but the mothers - I had to work for their friendships. (as a side note, I did reek of patchouli oil and a special brand of baby formula that made most people gag at first scent)
So a few years later, the actor Hilary Duff via an innocent Instagram photograph, is making headlines regarding her drop-off style. After reading the mean remarks aimed at Hilary Duff critiquing an outfit she wore to take her daughter to school, I felt it was time for me to re-visit my article "The Short Shorts Defense",(http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mara-menachem/short-shorts-fashion_b_1646145.html) I wrote almost four years ago.
Are women just mean? Is it biological? Or are we conditioned from an early age to judge, criticize and mock other women? As a feminist, I feel terrible putting down my fellow sisters, but after reading the comments regarding Hilary's drop-off "look", I'm not happy with the state of our society, particularly females belittling each other.
"Hey moms! I came up wth a semi cute outfit for school drop off! I usually roll in sweat pants or lulu lemons and look like a disaster but this morning I managed to throw something cute together and I thought would share. Cut offs or jeans. A light weight trench over a sweater or tee, cross body bag sneaks or booties and a pair of Sunnies! Now you try! Tag me in your photo😘😎✌🏻️🌼(annnnd you don't have to wear such a serious face haha)"
Such a cute, relatable post from Hilary Duff, right? She's down to earth and she's admitting to feeling like a disheveled mom most days. For some reason this light post fueled major criticism.
"cute but I wouldn't wear that to drop off my kids if I was an adult", "another silly MILF", "you call this cute?!? A lady of class and substance wouldn't be caught wearing this.." As mothers, we know how hard it is to look decent in the morning when we're getting kids ready for school, they come first. It may seem unimportant, but in reality feeling put together IS important. So it's exciting to finally feel like you look decent - even for a celebrity mom.
There may be no official "rules" regarding how moms should dress to take their kids to school, but there are certainly unwritten ones. And this example is merely another way to impose the continued female bashing, we as a culture perpetuate every day - in our words, films, books and laws. It starts with shaming girls as soon as they start developing, when they are told to hide their bodies usually in the form of mandatory school dress codes. Hilary Duff didn't intend to start a feminist conversation, but her cute photograph on Instagram begs for all of us as women especially, to question our role in continuing female discrimination.