I like to show my shoulders
Weird enough, it’s true
And once or twice a week
It’s something many girls will do

Sometimes I show a slit of stomach
Or most of my thighs
I rarely see a need to hide
My skin from prying eyes

You’ll sometimes see my cellulite
Or a bit of fat
Although I know people can be quite
Judgemental of that

When I’m told to cover my body,
When my clothes are picked apart
It’s never for my sake,
But for my boy counterparts

When a girl is wearing shorts too short
A teacher will not hesitate
To dress code her – boys will be boys
And girls will accommodate

My body is not something
Taboo I need to hide
I don’t take care of and love my person
Just to be objectified

Is it really that hard
For teachers to say
To boys:
‘Don’t look at girls that way”?

Is it really up to teenage girls
To stick out their necks
To ask that teachers teach their students
That girls deserve respect?

We’re taught self defense
We’re taught modesty
We’re taught to check our cups
For drugs we can’t taste or see

We’re taught to cross our legs
And pray to the sky
That we don’t catch the attention
Of the wrong guy

Girls are taught how to not get raped
I learned all the tricks myself,
But all we learn is how to make sure
He rapes someone else


Edit I am so amazed by how many comments I have recieved on this post! So many people are supportive of this cause, and it gives me hope that some day soon we will see schools around the country taking steps to a better dress code. I am doing my best to reply to all comments. Thank you so much!!!!
-Celia

Disclaimer: I know that rape can happen to anyone, regardless of gender or age. This poem is meant to address the hypersexualization of young girls, and how it can lead to rape as well as other unsafe environments. I wrote about a small part of a big problem, because I could never hope to write a poem that debunks all of rape culture. I personally wanted to focus on the problems in middle and high schools. Here are some articles for you to check out if you’d like to learn more:

Dress Codes
http://www.cosmopolitan.com/lifestyle/news/a63695/sexist-dress-codes/
http://www.teenvogue.com/story/sexist-dress-codes-hurt-all-genders
http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2015/10/school-dress-codes-are-problematic/410962/

Rape

25 Everyday Examples of Rape Culture


http://www.wavaw.ca/what-is-rape-culture/
https://www.thenation.com/article/ten-things-end-rape-culture/

Thank you for reading

-Celia

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April 14, 2021 11:25 pm

What is your last name??

December 13, 2019 6:49 pm

I’m always shocked when I see posts and young girls listing off reasons that they have been dress coded. I think that not everyone understands how telling young girls and what women, in general, should wear is sexist, but that they should be educated on this topic. Women should be able to express themselves just as boys are allowed to at school without being dress coded or shamed for being proud of who they are.

Leah
July 23, 2019 7:00 pm

Dear Celia:
I am so impressed by your poem because it is so clearly communicated and honest.
One sentence you wrote that stands out for me is “Is it really up to teenage girls/To stick out their necks/To ask that teachers teach their students/That girls deserve respect?” This stood out for me because I am a teacher, so I am the intended audience for this comment, and it is so well-stated.
Your poem reminds me of the conversations about dress code that teachers and administration have had at my school. A number of us spoke out against the dress code because, just as you so eloquently explain, it primarily targets girls. The issue is largely resolved at our school now, but honestly, I can imagine using your poem as evidence if I ever needed to argue against dress codes again.
Thanks for your writing. I look forward to seeing what you write because you are such a clear, well-spoken advocate for any community to which you belong. You use language powerfully for an important cause here.

Brianna
March 18, 2017 3:29 pm

Dear Celia,

I really love the poem you have written, you backed it up well with your evidence and I also agree with you on this cause of dress code. It sucks that girls are being discriminated by the way they dress, I feel like girls should be able to wear what they want and not be sent to the principals house for showing her body shape or some skin. There is also a problem where girls who have a nice figure who cannot wear certain things to school because of their nice figure and it will cause a distraction. I feel like this is wrong because you can’t stop guys from looking at a girls body no matter where you go, guys will look. Girls should be able to wear what they want and feel comfortable in their own skin, if you have a nice body, you have a nice body and there is nothing you can do to stop that. As long as you are not being touched in an inappropriate way then there should not be a problem. Hopefully one day there will be a change.

Carmen
November 2, 2016 1:18 pm

Cecilia,
I love this poem so much. Dress codes are something that really bother me because I often see stories of girls being dress coded even when they were fully covered. It’s so annoying that young girls are told to cover every part of themselves instead of boys being told to not sexual young girls. I like how you tied this problem to rape because while they are not the same I think that they are closely related. If we constantly teach women to be ashamed and teach boys that girl’s and their bodies are the problem we are adding to a society that blames girls for sexual assault. Your poem in very powerful and good job!

Savannah
November 1, 2016 5:42 am

Celia,
I was blown away by how you wrote this. It’s so powerful. I agree with how you showed that girls are taught to not tempt a boy instead of boys being taught to simply respect a girl. This is such a huge issue in our world today and not enough people stand up for it to make a real difference. It’s important to face the harsh realities of society so that we can make a change and not have to teach the generations to come what we have wrongfully been taught.

Danielle
November 1, 2016 3:23 am

Dear Celia,
This poem is one of the most powerful things I have ever read. I think everything you talk about is so true ams often times girls are limited by fear of rape ams sexual assault. I think you addressed this in a sensitive ams powerful way. I hope to hear more from you. You are a very talented writer.

Erin
October 31, 2016 6:27 pm

This is an amazing and relevant poem in our society today. I go to a high school where we wear uniforms, so that, in theory, takes away girls ability to wear “revealing” clothing. We all have to wear shorts, and the girls must be to the knee. It is a common occurrence that girls are sent home for their shorts being too short, while there are boys next to us with shorter shorts than us. It is a very prevalent issue that needs to be addressed.

Elliot
October 31, 2016 3:47 pm

Even though I am a male your message hit very close to come. Many of my close friends struggle with these issues on a daily basis. One line that really spoke to me was when you said “We’re taught to check our cups
For drugs we can’t taste or see”. This line spoke to me because one of my dear friends was date raped. This poem raises awareness and truly shows the hardships women face on a daily basis.

Bella
October 31, 2016 3:47 pm

Celia,
I think that this poem is very good, addressing rape culture and dress code/sexism is very important for our society, and something that needs to be talked about more often. Using this topic and turning it into a poem, helps convey mood and why there is something wrong with rape culture. I have experienced this a lot in the past, and still do almost daily.

Johanna
October 31, 2016 3:41 pm

“But all we learn is how to make sure
He rapes someone else” – this part is so sad yet is so true it truly makes you think about society and what we are teaching the teen age girls of this generation.

Mack
October 31, 2016 3:28 pm

“Boys will be boys and girls have to accommodate.” -Very true

Cami
October 31, 2016 1:47 pm

Hi Celia, this poem was fantastic. Not only was it well written, but I agree with the points you made entirely. I have been dress coded in the past and because of that, I was forced to miss my math class that day. It’s ridiculous that girls showing some skin is more important than their education. It’s incredibly frustrating. Thank you for your insightful poem.

Grace
October 31, 2016 5:29 am

I think this is a very creative way of addressing such an important issue in today’s society. I especially like the point you make about how we are not fixing the problem by dressing more conservatively and checking our drinks, but rather pushing it onto someone else. I appreciate the fact that you bring up that clothing is not the issue, but rather the stigma behind it is the problem.

Ellie
October 30, 2016 9:59 pm

Hi Celia,
I think this poem is really great, and I really respect what you are trying to achieve with your writing. I think you have hit the nail on the head with the real issue with violence against young women. Great job with using examples of how girl’s are dress coded for being “immodest” when it is not the responsibility of girls to dress so as not to distract boys etc. Overall, this is amazing, great job.

Alea
October 30, 2016 9:48 pm

Hey Celia!
First of all, i would like to tell you that this was a really nice piece of writing and i am SO glad you chose to speak out about such an important topic. Talking about the “taboo” that surrounds the female body is something that I think we really need to address these days. It’s stupid that girls are taught to cover up or to act a certain way just for fear of guys “not being able to control themselves”, (something i have heard from more conservative family members). I couldn’t agree more with your last statement; this is a small part of a huge problem, that encompasses all genders and societies, and hopefully writing like yours can make this problem known and addressed!

Chloe
October 30, 2016 7:09 pm

Hi Celia,
This is a very relevant and prevalent problem you are addressing in this poem. I enjoyed the format of a poem, it was artistic, non accusatory, but well informative. This is a very real issue, in all middle and high schools, girls adhere and change, so as to not disrupt boys education. This poem is terrific because it addresses the examples in schools, but also goes down to the root of the issue in rape culture. As a female, I too have felt these pressures from a young age.

In an article by npr, this was stated: ‘ “Don’t humiliate her because she is wearing shorts. It’s hot outside. Instead of shaming girls for their bodies, teach boys that girls are not sexual objects.” ‘
http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2014/06/12/321268424/the-anatomy-of-a-dress-code
Good job!

Joey
October 30, 2016 6:30 pm

You are addressing a serious problem that we are facing today in our country, and I really like the way that you are bringing it to light. It is not right that a girl should feel uncomfortable in clothes designed to make her feel uncomfortable. The Constitution gives us all the right of freedom of speech- that includes the clothes we wear. Therefore, no one should be ridiculed for how the dress, and girls should definitely not have to “cover up.” If you feel comfortable in your own skin, you have the right to show it. No one should tell you otherwise.

Robin
October 30, 2016 5:17 pm

Hello Celia,
This poem is really going to stick with me for a long time–sometimes people forget how demeaning it is to women that we have to check ourselves 100% of the time. I am truly terrified. I am terrified to go on dates. I am terrified to get on an elevator, or go into a public restroom when I am by myself. As a petite female who likes to wear sundresses and show off my legs, I find myself in a constant state of stress that I might be ridiculed, harassed or even assaulted. These acts are acts of violence–not “locker room talk” or anything like it. Being touched when you don’t want to be, being ridiculed for wearing clothing you want to wear, or anything of the like needs to be taught to other people now.

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