When 13-year-old Grace Villegas was browsing at clothing retailer Charlotte Russe recently, she found a trendy, off-the-shoulder top she liked. She paid for it with her own money and was excited to wear it to school the next day. But when she got there, the seventh-grader was surprised to see the looks her teachers gave her. One teacher remarked that she was showing too much of her shoulders and chest.
The top she had been excited about turned into something her teachers seemed to be shaming her for, so she changed before she could get in formal trouble.
"I just wish one of them would have pulled me aside and said, 'Hey, can you go check about this? See if it's all right,' instead of giving me looks that made me uncomfortable in my own skin," she told Yahoo Style.
When she got home, she told her family what happened. Her older sister, Isabella, 18, was angry to hear about her sister's treatment at school and decided to create a response. She grabbed a marker and a plain white T-shirt that would surely be deemed appropriate by the school's staff.
Across the shirt she wrote, "DRESS CODE: promotes the objectification & sexualization of young bodies, blames the wearer for the onlooker's perceptions/actions, perpetuates rape culture, is BS."
Isabella took a photo of her sister in the off-the-shoulder top and then the new shirt she made for her, and posted them to Twitter. "My 13 year old sister was dress coded for her shirt today for "revealing too much chest and shoulder" so i made her a shirt to change into," she wrote.
She's quick to point out that the top does not violate any written rules in the school's handbook regarding dress code.
"Showing the girls that it's their problem that the boys are getting excited, it's their fault that the boys can't handle it, taking time away from their education just so the boys can get a better education — it's just teaching them so many things that are wrong," Isabella told Yahoo Style.
Grace didn't end up wearing the shirt her sister made her to school because she didn't want to start trouble, but she did appreciate the sentiment.
And she's not the only one. Isabella's tweet has since been shared more than 2,500 times and has over 5,000 favorites. Many people have reached out to her saying that they'd purchase a shirt like the one Isabella made, so she plans to start printing them. Perhaps this will help to send the message to many other school officials that dress codes should address the well-being of both male and female students.