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Homecoming dress debacle should serve as message of personal empowerment

By Lori Prichard  |  Posted Oct 1st, 2012 @ 8:02pm


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SALT LAKE CITY -- Dozens of girls at Stansbury High School didn't get to attend their weekend dance because the administration felt their dresses were too short.

The principal now admits the administration was wrong to send the girls home. So what can parents take away from the Stansbury homecoming incident?


We believe that by empowering girls to see themselves as more than just bodies, they will then make correct decisions for themselves. We know that when girls respect their bodies, they actually make better decisions in terms of nutrition, physical fitness and also in terms of how they dress.

–Lindsay Kite


Two researchers on the forefront of beauty and female objectification say it's not about the extra inch and the knee or shoulder. Instead, the conversation should be about something else entirely.

Sisters Lexie and Lindsay Kite have spent the past decade studying body image and the objectification of women and will end the school year with PhDs on the subject. The pair also launched a non-profit -- Beauty Redefined - to turn the body image conversation on its head.

The Kites say these girls need to be viewed as people - smart, driven, athletic girls - and only then can the conversation become less about what they're wearing and more about who they are.

"We believe that by empowering girls to see themselves as more than just bodies, they will then make correct decisions for themselves," said Lindsay. "We know that when girls respect their bodies, they actually make better decisions in terms of nutrition, physical fitness and also in terms of how they dress."

Both sisters believe what happened at this homecoming happened in the wrong way.

"When they were at the door and turned away, it breaks my heart a little," said Lexie. "It teaches girls that an extra inch here or there, if that's showing, then suddenly they are harmful to people and we have to be ashamed of our bodies because of it."

In their research, both say it's not that dress codes are inappropriate, it's how they are enforced that may do harm to girls forming their own self-identity.

"This standard teaches girls that they're just bodies and everyone is looking at them and not themselves being able to make appropriate decisions," said Lindsay. "We want to reframe that conversation by teaching girls that they're more than just bodies to be looked at. We can teach them that they can live and be and do great things."

Bottom line, the Kites' research shows girls who grow up to be educated, athletic, successful women tend to dress what's considered appropriately, in part because they define themselves as an individual rather than through the prism of being pretty or attractive.

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