When he got a call from his daughter’s school, Tony Alarcon was rather surprised. However, when he learned the real reason behind being called in he couldn’t believe what he was hearing. He couldn’t just let it slide. He had to do something about it.
A Normal Day
It was just another normal hot summer day when Tony Alarcon dropped off his daughter, Demetra, at school. It was a whopping 90 degrees out, so she made sure to wear clothing that fit for the hot weather they were experiencing.
No School Uniform
The school Demetra went to was Raymond J. Fisher middle-school. It had no specific school uniform requirement, meaning that the students were allowed to wear anything they’d like to school. However, there were a few basic rules regarding what they could and couldn’t wear to school.
Demetra’s father, Tony Alarcon is a successful real estate agent and investment banker, so he’s used to fighting for what’s right. He doesn’t allow injustice to happen when he can help it and confronts it head-on. Especially when it comes to standing up for his own daughter.
That day, Demetra was singled out in class. She was so embarrassed. While she wasn’t the first girl to be reprimanded in front of the whole class, she still found it mortifying all the same. She had no idea what all the fuss was about. She genuinely couldn’t understand it.
She had no idea wearing that blue romper would get her into trouble at school. As far as Demetra was concerned, there was nothing wrong with her outfit. Not to mention, her dad dropped her off that morning, and he didn’t think anything of it either.
A Huge Clash
All Demetra really did was choose a comfortable outfit to wear to school that would keep her cool on a boiling hot day in California. She didn’t expect her choice to result in such a huge clash between her dad and her school.
Such A Fuss
Overnight, Demetra’s choice of clothing became the topic of conversation. Soon enough, even the media got involved and released a public story. However, one question still remains: how was Demetra’s outfit different from the clothing other girls her age wore?
She didn’t think there would be yet another outcome over her outfit. And it was even worse than what she’d expected. Who could blame her for wearing a comfortable romper on a swelting hot day in Los Gatos?
That hot day turned out differently than Demetra could have expected. In her first period of the day, the teacher decided to call her out in front of the entire class. He was the one to point out that her romper was inappropriate school attire.
Principal Gets Involved
The teacher then decided Demetra needed to go to the principal’s office. After seeing Demetra, the principal called up her dad and explained there was a situation involving his daughter. The principal didn’t know that was a call he would later regret.
A Choice To Be Made
The principal told Tony how Demetra’s outfit was inappropriate for school. He told him that he had a choice to make. Tony could either bring her a change of clothing or pick her up from school immediately. Tony was shocked about getting this call.
Tony decided to play along with this and chose to bring Demetra a change of clothing. He went through her closets and found an outfit he thought would be appropriate. He chose a pair of denim shorts and a plain tank top.
The Battle Is On
Demetra went back into the office once she changed into the new outfit. Her dad and the administrator were both waiting for her there. Immediately, the administrator said the new outfit was still inappropriate. By this point, Tony was getting angry.
Tony was very angry about the whole situation. He asked the school administrator to explain exactly what the problem was with the new outfit. He even had Demetra bend down to show them that her shorts covered her properly. He wanted to get to the bottom of this.
Protecting His Daughter
Tony knew there was more to this problem than what the school administrator was telling him. He refused to stop until they told him the truth and explained why Demetra was singled out. Tony had his suspicions, but he didn’t want to believe them.
He Wasn’t Satisfied
The explanation Tony got was that the dress code violation was more about technical length than modesty. The administrator said the romper and the denim shorts Demetras wore didn’t pass the ‘fingertip test’. However, Tony had a feeling that it wasn’t the real reason.
After hearing about the ‘fingertip test’, Tony was becoming angrier and angrier. He’d seen other students in Demetra’s class wearing similar clothes when he stropped her off at school that very morning. Why was she the only one being singled out?
The Fingertip Test
For the ‘fingertip test,’ the student needs to stand up straight and place her arms at her sides. If her pants are above her fingertips, they’re too short. Demetra did this and hers were just barely above her fingertips. Tony wasn’t going to stand for this.
Eventually, the administrator said the real reason Demetra was singled out was because of the boys in her class. Tony was trying to process what the administrator said, so he asked her to repeat herself. He couldn’t believe what he was hearing.
Immediately, the administrator regretted saying what she did. At last, Tony knew the truth, and he wasn’t going to take it lightly. The problem wasn’t Demetra’s clothing, it was that she was seen as a distraction to the boys in her class.
As he was sitting across the table from the school principal, Tony couldn’t believe what he was hearing. The teacher and the principal as well had singled out Demetra and now he finally understood why. He had enough. He was ready to fight this.
Seeing his daughter so upset with tears in her eyes, Tony knew he couldn’t let the matter go. What the administrator was saying about his daughter was completely unacceptable. Tony needed to make use of his resources to make this right.
The administrator then gave them one last choice to make. Either Demetra covered her legs up with leggings, or she wouldn’t be allowed to go back to class. This choice was completely unfair and Tony was about to show them just what he thought about this.
Demetra then pointed out that the school dress code was only enforced on the girls and not on the boys. She said it was discriminatory. There was a no-hats-in-class rule, but the boys wore hats in class all the time and nothing was ever done about it.
Tony was trying to stay calm, but he was beginning to have a hard time doing so. He said that he’d seen many other students in the parking lot who didn’t follow the rules either. So how come the girls were the only ones who got picked on?
It was unrealistic for the school to expect girls to wear leggings on such a hot day. Their rules had to be more accommodating. Shorter and lighter clothing helps students be more comfortable in the summer heat. But because of boys, Demetra had to suffer.
As a response, Tony decided to ask Demetra’s friend what they thought of the dress code rules. When he spoke to them, they all said they felt it was unfair and that the system was flawed. The girls were forced to be uncomfortable in the summer because the boys couldn’t control themselves.
Involving The Media
Tony’s next course of action was involving the media. He was mad and wanted the world to know how unfair the school’s dress code was and how they humiliated his daughter. Tony made an appearance on Today and other local news channels.
When the media asked Tony what he proposed as a solution to the current dress code situation, he said it should only be the parents’ decision. It was their responsibility to decide whether the clothing their kids’ were wearing was appropriate or not.
As part of his proposal, Tony suggested some changes be made to the school’s dress code. One being that underwear couldn’t be visible. He went on and said no midriffs, and no shirts with spaghetti straps either. However, he was just scratching the surface of a much bigger issue.
While most people supported Tony, not everyone was. The issue of objectification of girls and body images was being uncovered by the battle. However, some people thought that if teens were allowed to wear what they want, it would create chaos in the school system.
In response to Tony’s accusations, the school said the dress code was only meant to establish guidelines. Their aim was to have ‘reasonable decorum’ among all their students. It seems like this wasn’t the only case involving unfair school dress code rules, but we hope justice will be served soon.
Demetra isn’t the only girl who had some kind of incident with the school dress code. Clare had a similar situation where the school unfairly zeroed in on her due to her clothing and what it portrayed. The 17-year-old was ready for her prom.
The Perfect Dress
Clare and her boyfriend were excited for their prom night and even made sure to buy the tickets ahead of time. She found the perfect dress for the occasion, it was silver and sparkly. They young couple was sure nothing could ruin their night.
The Dreaded Fingertip Test
When she saw the dress was within her budget, she immediately fell in love with it. However, it needed to pass the dreaded fingertip test first. Clare relaxed her arms to her sides and hoped the dress would be long enough.
Prom Dress Code
The prom invitation clearly stated the dress code was semi-formal with dresses at fingertip length. Clare’s had just made it and she was sure it was the perfect dress. However, she didn’t know how much trouble this one dress would cause.
It Was Time
At last, prom night had arrived. Clare was so excited about it, but decided to do the fingertip test one more time just to be sure. This time, however, the dress almost came up short. She was ready to go to the dance and had no idea what she would do.
Before heading out, she put on some heels to test out the outfit and make sure she was dressed according to the event rules. The hem of her dress was dangerously close to her fingertips. When she would dance, the dress might hike up her legs.
She arrived at the local Methodist church where the prom was being held and was immediately confronted at the door. Despite the fact that she double-checked, one of the organizers called her out for her dress being too short. So, Clare just asked what the rule was.
Looks Can Be Deceiving
The organizer in question, Ann Duncan, responded that she needed to comply with the fingertip length rule. Clare then explained that her dress met the critertia but the fact that she was tall with long legs make the dress look shorter than it is.
All the same, Ann insisted that the dress was too short and that it didn’t comply with the dress code, but Clare wasn’t having it. She showed Ann that the dress passed the fingertip test. Then, Ann had no choice but to let her in.
As she was walking into the ballroom, Clare couldn’t help but notice that there were plenty of other girls who wore dresses that were shorter than hers. She just had to laugh at the ridiculousness of the situation. It was time to celebrate, but then she noticed something going on above her head.
Clare and her friends noticed there was an unusual amount of chaperones compared to the years before. Among them, there were dads gawking down at the girls from the balcony. The girls began to feel very uneasy at the sight of the dads staring.
It’s understandable that the girls felt very uncomfortable as a result. They were somewhat intimidated by the amount of parents that were there to watch their every move for the next five hours. Essentially, they were there to watch girls in short dresses and heels dance around.
Getting Called Again
Not too long after Clare got into the dance, she saw Ann storming towards her. She escorted Clare off the dancefloor and told her some dad chaperones were complaining that she was dancing too provocatively. She said that would cause the boys to have impure thoughts.
By telling her that her outfit caused impure thoughts was like saying ‘she asked for it’.This was completely unacceptable. She wasn’t responsible for the thoughts and actions of the male students and their dads at the prom. She knew she needed to fight back.
Enough Is Enough
Clare told Mrs. Duncan she wasn’t even dancing. Her friends were able to back her up on that statement. She then showed Ann again that her dress met the requirements. However, mrs. Duncan wasn’t listening to her. At that moment, Clare’s boyfriend stepped in.
A United Front
Disgusted by the accusations against Clare, her boyfriend said if she was getting kicked out of the prom, their whole group that they came with would leave as well. And that the school would need to refund all their tickets.
Clare knew a refund wouldn’t be enough to make up for the damage done that evening. She wasn’t going to let this go. Her boyfriend, James, asked to speak to the prom manager. That’s when Mr. Duncan got angry and called another chaperone for backup.
Clare had been dreaming of this night for so long, and all it took was an unreasonable chaperone to completely ruin it. They were all escorted out of the prom as if they were criminals. Clare was heartbroken. She was kicked out for the sole reason that she stood out.
She was essentially told that what she wore and the way she moved her body caused men to think innapropriate things about her. This implied that it was her responsibility to control others’ thoughts and urges. She knew she would get them back somehow.
As she was being escorted out of the hall, she couldn’t help but ask the security guard what he thought about the matter. Clare asked him if he thought her dress was compliant and if she was dancing inappropriately. He replied that he didn’t think so, but sadly, it wasn’t his call.
Support Flooding In
Despite the fact that the school agreed to refund everyone, Clare was the only one to get her money back. She felt so cheated and angry. So she did the only thing she felt like she could: she went online with her story and told the world. Women all over the world heard her story and offered support.
Ever since that night, a lot of angry people went to the Richmond Homeschool Prom page on Facebook and spoke about their disapproval of what happened to Clare. Then, Mrs. Duncan was interviewed by CBS news and gave her side of the story.
Mrs. Duncan said that despite the dress meeting the requirements when Clare arrived, it rode up when she was dancing. She claimed that she said nothing about the dads watching Clare dance as there were so many people that night.
Clare said a lot of her friends told her that after she left, there was a lot of dirty dancing going on, and couples were even making out on the dancefloor. It’s funny how those things were completely ignored, yet Clare was thrown out.
Another student that was at the prom said the situation could have been handled better from both sides. She said she saw Clare grinding on the dancefloor, but Clare stands by what she said. She wrote all about the event and shared it online.
Keeping An Eye On Her
When Clare was kicked out, Mrs. Duncan said the dads were complaining about the way she was dancing. Meaning that they had to have been watching her. This made Clare feel targeted since her build was more mature than other girls her age.
Clare has stood by what she said happened the entire time and hopes the incident can serve as an example and bring positive changes into the schools’ dress code all over the country. However, this story brings a bigger problem into the light. This issue is one that kids and parents alike are faced with today.
What Can Be Done
If teenage girls are being limited by society as a whole in regards to what they can and can’t wear, does that mean they’re being objectified at a younger age? What is there for parents to do to make sure their daughters can grow up without being judged?
It turns out Clare and Demetra weren’t the only ones with this type of problem. It’s normal for schools to have dress codes in place for the students to follow. However, some schools seem to take things a little too far.
Dr. Catherine Pearlman is just like any other mom who’d have milk and cookies ready for her kids when they get home from school. She’s a social worker and a writer. At the moment, she and her husband live in California with their two kids and their dog. From the outside, it seems like she and her family are the typical happy family.
To most people, Pearlman’s life looks pretty common. However, she’s an expert on families. She writes all about parenting issues on her blog, The Family Coach. She got her doctorate in social welfare at Yeshiva University and her master’s degree in social work from New York University. She runs her own private practice and is also an assistant professor at Brandman University. So what do school dress codes have to do with her?
Yoga Pants Ban
For the most part, Pearlman focuses on other parents’ problems with their kids. However, she found herself in the middle of a situation involving her own child. A teacher at her daughter’s school told her and her classmates that females weren’t allowed to wear yoga pants during gym class.
The teacher claimed that if girls wore things like yoga pants to school, the boys would get distracted too much. She added that boys that age can’t help themselves when they’re around girls. The teacher concluded that enforcing a yoga pants ban would prevent anything embarrassing happening to the students.
What About Other Things?
Pearlman couldn’t believe what she was hearing, it made her furious. So, she decided to write about the incident on her blog. She had more than enough experience dealing with families and kids as well as the normal teenage behavior between boys and girls. She wrote, “In the 1960s and ’70s, the girls all wore miniskirts that barely covered their rears. And the boys still managed to graduate.”
After pointing out that girls have been wearing all kinds of clothes for decades, she slammed the school dress code, which clearly targeted females. She spoke about how it sent the wrong message to the young girls at the school. “Boys and men are responsible for their actions.” She wrote.
Pearlman added that it wasn’t her daughter’s job to keep her male classmates in line. She went on to say how it’s not okay to shame girls about their bodies and telling them to cover up all the time. Girls shouldn’t have to worry about their clothing causing problems with the boys around them.
Clearly, Pearlman was very angry about the school’s dress code. She felt like her daughter and other students had the right to wear yoga pants if they chose to. It wasn’t as if the girls were wearing exposing clothing. When the teachers told her daughter she had another dress code violation, she decided to take action instead of just writing about it.
Forced To Change Clothes
It turns out that Pearlman’s daughter dressed inappropriately for school two days in a row. The second time she got in trouble was due to the fact that she had the audacity to wear shorts to school. In fact, it was such an issue that the school forced her to change into a pair of boy’s shorts that were found in the school.
Naturally, Pearlman was angry about her daughter being humiliated two days in a row due to a dress code that targeted girls. In fact, she was so outraged that she sent the school principal a letter. The principal just so happened to be a woman. Well, Pearlman suggested the principal go clothes shopping with her daughter and find her more appropriate outfits she could wear regularly.
Pearlman was so angry that she gave the principal very clear instructions for where to find clothes that would be appropriate for the classroom. It turns out that her daughter wasn’t built like any other 13-year-old. She was somewhat tall for her age and has long limbs, meaning her clothing options were very limited.
Pearlman wasn’t done, however. She proceeded to describe her daughter’s preferences to the principal. She said how her daughter isn’t the typical girly-girl, how she didn’t like butterflies, flowers, or anything frilly. So what about sweatpants? Well, they were out of the question since her daughter had problems with overheating.
Nothing Short Or Revealing
Pearlman carefully inspected the dress code rules and determined that some of them would be incredibly difficult to follow. “Now, don’t forget that you will have to find something in the stores that also meets with your dress code requirements,” She wrote. “Here are the tricky areas that are most difficult to avoid. As per your policy, she cannot wear tank tops. Shorts and skirts must not extend to the end of the fingertips (this is a toughie.)”
“She has very long fingers which seem to make finding shorts that won’t get her sent to the principal’s office impossible. On the bright side, the piano teacher says those fingers are an asset.” She continued. “I’d schedule a few afternoons and weekends for this endeavor. I can tell you from experience that just heading to the mall, Target and the outlets won’t cut it. Not much for her there. I’ve already checked.”
As Pearlman already said, the main problem was not being able to wear yoga pants to school, and the second problem was shorts. That is, she couldn’t wear them unless they were a certain length. The third and final problem was finding a style of clothing that appealed to her daughter. On top of sticking to the dress code rules, Pearlman pointed out yet another problem she faced: money! As the mom of a growing teen, it wasn’t a possibility to spend loads of money on clothing that her daughter will grow out of so quickly.
Sick And Tired
Obviously, Pearlman was frustrated with the school dress code as well as her inability to find clothing that will also fit her teen and be something she wanted to wear. Towards the end of the letter, Pearlman wrote to the principal, “I thank you endlessly for taking on this chore. What a relief for me.” To complete the letter, she wrote, “Sincerely, Sick Of The Dress Code Mom.”
It isn’t clear how or if the school ever responded to the letter Pearlman wrote the principal. But, whether or not the letter made an impact with the school administrators, it did make an impression on other parents all over America. The note went viral online shortly after she posted it.
Boys Get More Leeway
One response to Pearlman’s letter was from a woman on Facebook, saying, “Just had a conversation with my middle school son. He said boys don’t get dress coded… only the girls. The boys wear clothes with pot leaves on them and, apparently, that’s appropriate.”
Pearlman made a clear point in her letter that must have resonated with a lot of parents who have teens. She didn’t like how administrators treated her daughter. A school’s focus should be on the students’ education rather than if fingertips reach the hem of shorts or not.