I was sitting in my 8th grade math class. The teacher approached me, and I got an uneasy feeling in my stomach. He asked me to come outside so he can talk to me. As I walked out, I saw some people turn my way.
I immediately thought of what I was wearing- I’ve been dresscoded before, so I can tell when a teacher is about to tell me that my clothes are indecent. But this time, what I wore was not against the rules at all. I wore a tank top with a jean jacket over it. I even looked down to see if any cleavage was showing. None.
We stood right by the door. He told me this: “Ruth, your shirt is very low and revealing. So, you know, either button up your jacket or I will send you to the office to change.”
I could not believe what he was saying. My tank top wasn’t revealing the slightest bit, plus I had a jacket over it.
Words couldn’t come out of my mouth. I felt so embarrassed and gross. I buttoned my jacket.
I walked back in the class and I could tell people were staring. My jacket was now buttoned and when I left, it wasn’t.
For months after I didn’t tell anyone about the incident. I kept it to myself, and even then, I felt tormented. It was one of those moments that would make me physically cringe because of how embarrassed I was.
I just didn’t understand, I guess. I couldn’t bring myself to process it because I was so ashamed.
When boys wore tank tops in his class, he said nothing to them. And I, I had a freaking jacket on. But just because I’m a girl, he pointed it out.
If my shirt was so low that it disturbed other people, I am SURE my friends would have told me. He didn’t need to tell me. I had a jacket. Why would he say that to me. Now, when I think back to that incident, I don’t feel shameful, I just feel anger. What he did was unnecessary and demeaning.
This is the story of the last time a teacher pointed out that what I was wearing was indecent.