Cleavage Bans: Basically Just Size-ism?

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Photo: Davide Chiarito/iStockphoto

A Washington state high school made the national news this week for denying a student entry to her senior prom because she was showing cleavage. In doing so, her chaperones ignored the Cut Law of School Dress Codes, which states that however inappropriate students look, administrators will look an order of magnitude more inappropriate when observing and commenting upon their exposed bodies. They also enforced a dress code that basically amounts to size-ism. 

According to the Daily News, dance rules forbade dresses exposing cleavage, midriff, and lower back, which sounds reasonable. Except that one of the no-nos only applies to large or large-breasted women, who often report struggling to adhere to a small-chested (possibly male) standard of appropriate — and often while wearing the same V-neck T-shirts. Meanwhile, a small or small-breasted student would struggle to violate the dress code, despite showing relatively more skin. 

Luckily, the student also sees through it. "I feel it's because I'm bigger chested and there is more cleavage that you can see, and there's nothing I could really do about that," Brittany Minder told local news. (Her strapless but not low-cut dress probably would have "passed" on a smaller-chested student.) She was eventually let into the prom after she went home for a shawl, but left after 30 minutes. “I felt self-conscious and they took the magic out of the night," she said.