Teen reduced to tears over charter school's dress code

An Arizona mom and daughter duo set out to purchase the perfect dress for the teen's fall homecoming, but came up empty-handed because of a rigid dress code.

Mommy blogger, Sadie Roach, wrote about her daughter’s struggle to find an acceptable dress for the event.

“A day that should’ve been magical was filled with tears,” Roach wrote on her blog, Slap Dash Mom. “Because patriarchy.”

Her daughter, Jenelle, attends Ironwood High School, a charter school which requires students to wear uniforms during the year. However, for the upcoming formal event, the school has issued a separate, very detailed dress code: the dresses are to have straps at least three fingers wide; no bare backs, stomachs, or sides; no plunging necklines; and skirts no more than an inch above the knee.


With the parameters in mind, Jenelle and her mother traveled to Ross, Target and Walmart – all without finding an appropriate dress.

“Several times we had to stop and collect ourselves and just say, ‘It’s not the end of the world,'” Roach says.

This isn’t the first time Jenelle – who is six feet tall – has had problems meeting the dress code.

“She has always had dress code issues due to her height, just as I did when I was a kid,” Roach tells Yahoo Style via email. “She has been stopped in the hall many times, or made to stand up in the middle of class, to prove her dress or shorts were not too short. Not just at this school, but at all schools she has attended.”

Though Roach didn’t try to argue with the school about the dress code, stating “because I know there is no wiggle room at all,” Ironwood did try to help parents out by posting “tips to make the dress buying experience an easy and memorable one” on their website.

Among the suggestions to rent clothes or shop at boutique modest dress shops – which Roach says are out of her price range – the school advises parents to “’sew’ gorgeous alterations.”

“I laughed when I read this,” Roach recalls to Yahoo Style. “Not all of us are sitting at home chomping at the bit to sit in the carpool line for two hours as part of our ‘daily chores’ (yes, someone said that in the school’s Facebook group), just like not all of us have the time or desire to sew a dress for homecoming.”

Roach says after the marathon shopping experience, the two went back to Ross and found a cute sleeveless dress that fits the dress code.


But the mom is still concerned over how the dress code will affect her daughter’s self-esteem and body image.

Roach says she has discussed with Jenelle the unfairness of rules that penalize girls for the sake of not distracting boys, Yahoo Style says.

“I hope she learned sooner rather than later that even in the corporate world, things aren’t fair across the board for females,” Roach says. “We have to work twice as hard to get half as far, and it’s an uphill battle, but we take it in stride.”