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How The Effects Of Slut-Shaming Girls Can Last A Lifetime

Twenty-year-old Hannah Pewee was strolling through Woodland Mall in West Michigan on a 90-degree day with her sister, when she was allegedly approached by a security guard about her outfit.

Someone had anonymously reported her for “inappropriate dress,” and she was then kicked out of the mall, according to a post she shared about the incident on her Facebook page.

The outfit in question was denim cutoff shorts and a white tank top with Finding Nemo’s Dory character on the front, along with white lettering that reads, “Just keep swimming.”

She expressed her feelings about being thrown out on her post, writing,

Never mind that within a one foot radius there were plenty of girls dressed just like me, since it’s NINETY degrees outside. I am so angry right now I’m shaking.

I felt so embarrassed I almost cried. All because a stranger didn’t like how I dressed.

 

As many of you know, it is NINETY degrees outside today in West Michigan. Aka, really hot. So, of course, I decided to…

Posted by Hannah Pewee on Saturday, June 10, 2017

Currently, the Woodland Mall’s online code of conduct shows that Pewee was not in violation of the dress code.

Only two rules even mention clothing. They read,

white background, black words, dress code, screenshot

Woodland Mall/Screenshot

Woodland Mall representatives have spoken out about how Pewee was treated. The Grand Rapids Press wrote in an email to M Live,

We apologized to the shopper and the public for the way that this was handled.  We’ve already spoken to her and are working to make things right.

We work to create a fun and safe shopping and dining destination but failed to deliver on that message for this shopper. We’re working internally to make sure we fully deliver on excellent experiences at our Mall immediately.

Pewee confirmed via Facebook that she spoke with mall reps who informed her about plans to “revise” their clothing policy. The mall also agreed to educate their security guards on how to properly handle similar issues going forward.

There was no word on why Pewee was asked to leave and not the other girls she wrote about who were in the mall with similar summer attire.

Elite Daily reached out to Woodland Mall for clarity, but they did not answer by the time of publication.

Policing Young Women For Wearing Regular Clothes Is A Sad, Common Part Of Our Culture.

The obsession with young girls and women and what they wear is sexist and has caused many of them to be singled out in malls, schools, at work, and in other settings where their carefree lives are interrupted.

In March, a mom wrote an open letter to her daughter’s school on the Today.com parenting forum. The school sent her home wearing someone else’s shorts after deeming hers unacceptable for school.

In the letter, the mom invited school officials to take her daughter shopping and described how their policies make it difficult for students with certain body types to find clothes they can wear in the classroom.

The mom wrote in the “P.S.” portion of the letter,

I forgot to thank you for making it clear to my daughter that her body is somehow a distraction, either to herself or to the boys.

I thought she might have missed the message earlier in the year when the gym teacher told her she couldn’t wear yoga pants because the boys aren’t able to control themselves. I appreciate how hard you are working to drive the point home.

Another student, Sophia Abuabara, was pulled from a classroom during a March exam day at Tom C. Clark High School, for wearing a dress that officials deemed too short.

Her mother, Rosey Abuabara, took to Facebook to express her anger.

What is more important here? My daughters skirt length, or her PHYSICS AP TEST SCORE? She also had an APUSH test, and a…

Posted by Rosey Abuabara on Friday, April 7, 2017

Rosey told People magazine that she and Sophia shop with a tape measure and that the hemline met the school’s requirement for clothes to be no higher than four inches above the knee.

The principal disagreed with her length check, and told her that he was helping to protect Sophia from boys who might sexually harass her. Never mind that boys should instead be taught to control themselves and not sexualize girls. Elite Daily reached out to Clark High for a comment, but did not hear back by the time of publication.

Rosey shared that Sophia — who was at the top of her class and the class president — flunked one of her three exams on that day and believes it was due to the stress of being singled out.

Rosey said to the magazine,

She flunked her physics test, and she says she thinks it’s because of what happened. She said she was crying after school, and people thought it was because she was coded, but she said she was crying because of the test.

Her education is first, those tests were first. For something like that to mess with her head is really upsetting.

This practice of policing women and girls to the brink of tears because of their clothes is also known as slut-shaming.

Few places are as adamant about preventing boys from engaging in sexual harassment as they are about making sure girls don’t somehow cause it.

Slut-Shaming Does More Than Disrupt A Woman’s Day.

Pewee did not just express her frustration with having to abruptly end a mall outing with her sister and find something else to do with her summer afternoon. The part of her experience we should all be heeding, is that she was “angry” and “felt so embarrassed” that she “almost cried.”

And Sophia was so upset, she believed it affected her academic performance.

Slut-shaming needs to stop, not only because women and girls are having their lives interrupted, but also because it can also have an adverse affect on their emotional and mental health that lasts longer than the initial moment.

Washington DC-based psychotherapist, Quinn Gee, who specializes in women’s issues and race-based trauma, spoke with Elite Daily about the long-term effects that shaming can have on young women.

She says,

Shaming can cause anxiety and even PTSD, depending on the trauma. It can cause future anxiety attached to clothes, specifically when a woman is getting ready. A woman can even have permanent negative emotions attached to the piece of clothing she was wearing when it happened.

Shaming also contributes to social anxiety, which is a fear of being judged in by other people. Some symptoms are sweating, nervousness, and panic attacks.

To Gee’s point, I remember being a teenager and having an elderly woman tell me that I was going to be raped just because I was wearing a skirt with a hemline no shorter than Sophia’s.

The elderly woman who gave me the “warning” scared me so badly, it took a couple of years before I could wear certain dresses or skirts comfortably again.

It also caused me to seek out social settings where I knew there would be a limited amounts of men. Today, I still hold a certain fear of men that guides how I interact with them in, even the most innocent social moments.

Women deserve to be set free from these traumatic incidents that steal our carefree nature and replace it with a normalized disposition of fear.

Let’s teach women not to choose clothes wary of the male gaze, but instead teach both men and women that shaming and harassment can cause long-term damage.

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Marquaysa Battle

Editor

Marquaysa is a dog mom, music junkie and lover of all things #BlackGirlMagic. She can be found shamelessly live-tweeting Ratchet TV Mondays or gazing at puppies on Insta. She has a Master's degree in journalism from NYU.
Marquaysa is a dog mom, music junkie and lover of all things #BlackGirlMagic. She can be found shamelessly live-tweeting Ratchet TV Mondays or gazing at puppies on Insta. She has a Master's degree in journalism from NYU.

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