Teenage pupil humiliated after being told her 'protruding' nipples were distracting boys
Though many people these days might claim that "sexism doesn't exist" anymore, or that feminism is an unnecessary movement, there are thousands of incidents that happen every day which prove otherwise. Sometimes, these are large-scale incidents (such as the ones we saw in the Me Too movement), and other times they are isolated events which happen to individuals.
Lizzy Martinez, a 17-year-old pupil at Branden River High School in Florida, knows about this all too well, as she found herself being penalised this week for a matter which would never have been brought up with a male student.
On Monday, Martinez was called into the dean's office and told - quite bluntly - that her "protruding" nipples were a distraction for her male peers, and that she would have to cover them up with band-aids. As a result, both Martinez and her mother have spoken out against the school's treatment of the situation, and are outraged that anyone would try to police her body in such a way.
In an interview with the Bradenton Herald on Thursday, the teenager described how she was treated by the dean. "She told me that I needed to put a shirt on under my long-sleeve shirt to try to tighten my breasts — to constrict them," Martinez explained. "And then she asked me to move around.”
However, this second layer apparently didn't do a good enough job of constricting the girl's body, and she was subsequently sent to the nurse's office and directed to put a band-aid over each nipple. This left Martinez feeling absolutely humiliated, and she left school early in floods of tears.
When her mother, Kari Knop, came to collect her, she was furious about what had happened.
"I stopped [the car] and I looked over at her, and I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh, you have to be kidding me,’" Knop said.
Two days later, she confronted school administrators in order to discuss what had happened.
"We should not treat a girl like this because of where her fat cells decided to distribute genetically," the student's mother said. "If it was a male dean that asked my daughter to do this, we wouldn't even be on the phone trying to justify it, therefore we should not be doing it as female deans."
She argued that Martinez had not broken the school's Code of Student Conduct, either, as it states that: "You are expected to dress appropriately for school and for the business of learning with proper attention given to personal cleanliness, grooming and neatness," which the 17-year-old certainly did.
After the discussion, the school eventually conceded that it should not have asked Martinez to cover herself up for the convenience of other people.
"This matter was brought to the attention of the Superintendent’s Office for review," the district's general counsel, Mitchell Teitelbaum, said in a statement. "It is undisputed that this matter should have been handled differently at the school level and corrective measures have been taken to prevent a reoccurrence in the way these matters will be addressed in the future."
Even though the school apologized, this incident should never have happened in the first place.
"The students that were laughing or snickering or talking about me, that should have been addressed, not me, because I wasn’t the issue there," Martinez said.
Women's bodies should not be sexualized or treated as "distractions", and people who insist on perpetuating the idea that girls should cover up for the sake of boys should be ashamed of themselves. No woman should have to wear a bra if she doesn't want to, and no man should have the right to tell her otherwise.