SAN MATEO (CBS SF) — A San Mateo High School student has used the quote on her senior yearbook photo to tweak the dress code she feels is sexist and adds to rape culture.
Chloe Cross posted the photo from her yearbook on her Instagram and Tumblr accounts, with a caption on the photo that reads, “I would just like to apologize to those who were unable to graduate with the class of 2015 because they were too distracted by my midriff and consequently failed all of their classes! xoxo”
“I wanted it to be original and then since the dress code was something I felt pretty passionate about during school, I decided to make a snarky comment to try and, like, bring up the conversation of why it’s so, like, inconsistent,” Cross told KPIX.
Cross said girls who are tall or have long legs or larger chests were most often targeted, and claimed the school’s rationale for enforcing the code is that girl’s bodies are too distracting to be seen by males.
In an interview with Yahoo News, Cross said she was verbally and physically harassed at school over her clothing.
Some of the most hurtful things were said to me after I started speaking out about the dress code, though, like that I was begging for attention and deserved to be harassed or singled out. I’ve been physically harassed just based on my clothing as well, and it will never make sense to me that anyone sees a female classmate bending down in shorts and thinks it’s appropriate to slap her butt.
Cross told KPIX she wanted to leave a message for other young women and girls facing the same situation.
“You don’t deserve to be blamed for other people sexualizing your bodies, and no matter how many people say, like, ‘Well, you’re asking for the attention.’ or, like, ‘How am I supposed to help it?’” said Cross. “You’re a kid and you’re wearing clothes and you have arms and legs and a stomach and a chest and it’s just what it is so it’s not really fair to blame girls for other people lacking self-control.”
A photo of Cross with a ‘censored’ graphic over her bare midriff was used to accompany an article in the school’s online newspaper last year criticizing the school dress code. The article said the dress code includes verbiage (“suggestive, revealing, or transparent attire” such as spaghetti straps, crop tops or bare midriffs) which it called sexist and demeaning to women.
Cross’ yearbook photo post went viral after it was reblogged by actress Amandla Stenberg, who portrayed Rue in “The Hunger Games,” with the added caption “disassembling rape culture on sly dig at a time.”
Cross told Yahoo she slipped the quote past administrators because she was lucky enough to have a classmate she was friendly with on the yearbook staff, and it was a way to be remembered as “the girl who gave the administration hell until the last possible moment.”
Why shouldn’t I have said something that makes people think about why they blame girls for distracting boys instead of boys for lacking the self-control to remain on task?