Disrespectful Clothing at UNM [Tell Your Story]

7 May

I’d like to start this post by painting a picture for you:

 I work at one of the libraries at the University of New Mexico. Spring was finally in full swing and I wanted to celebrate with a black short sleeved crop top and one of those skirts that goes all the way to the floor. This particular morning I was running a little late to work, and so when I finally arrived I only had about two hours left in my shift. My job duties at the library consist of checking out reserve books, laptops, and study rooms to the patrons. While I was sitting at the desk for the first hour I had had a couple of women compliment me on my clothing. One woman even told me that I looked like a princess. However I did get a peculiar look from one woman. Five minutes after I had exchanged glances with this woman one of the full time employees (I’ll name her Jane) calls me over to speak with her. We went into a room that had two doors (the kind that are placed in the middle of a large space…it’s an awkward layout). When I came into the half room again I noticed that women who gave me the strange look was in the room.  Jane asked me to take a seat and then sat down next to me while the other women proceeded to stand.  Jane then whisper scolded me. The exchange went a little like this:

Jane: You look nice today, but that’s really inappropriate wear for the workplace. You’re showing disrespect to your coworkers and all of your patrons. Do you have something you can change into?

Me: Yes I brought an extra shirt just in case.               

Jane: Good. Let’s try not to let this happen again.

Picture Painted.


*This is the portion of my body that I disrespected everyone around me with *bad tummy bad*–don’t mind the headphone cord they were not a part of the offense.

-Before I begin my critique of this incident I’ll start off by saying that at the time of the incident there was not a dress code set in place for the student employees at the library. Also that if there had been a dress code I would have followed what it said no problem. –

In rewriting this story the part that still gets to me is having her accuse me of “disrespecting” everyone around me.  First of all since when does Jane speak for everyone in the whole library?  There’s also the way that she handled it. I have no idea why the other woman was there looming over us in the room, the doors were wide open, and she could have simply asked if I had another shirt to change into while I was at work, or let me know that it made her and perhaps the other women uncomfortable. This didn’t happen though instead she had to corner me and accuse me of ‘disrespecting’ everyone around me.  My nipples were not protruding from my shirt I wasn’t exposing my vagina, it was my midriff.  She basically told me that my bare stomach is disrespectful to everyone around me.

This whole incident leads to much bigger issues concerning women’s body image and dress codes on college campuses in general.  If your work place doesn’t give you a dress code are they assuming you’ll wear certain clothing and not others?  One would think they would avoid assuming anything. We all know how to spell assume right? (Ass-u-me). If you assume something you could be making an ass out of you and me.  If you don’t give people a dress code then they are going to wear what they think is appropriate and what makes them comfortable. In this case, a crop top.  Jane had no idea that I used to hate my body and think I should wear black and cover every inch of my body. She has no idea what it took for me to wear that top that day. I didn’t wear that top in order to stick it to the man or as a big “f-you” (not the feminist f-word 😉 ) I wore that top because it was comfortable and there were no standing rules in place against it. Employers should make students aware of a dress code. If there is no dress code then maybe they should take some time and make one if they are concerned with students choice of clothing (in the summer especially).

Women’s acceptance of their bodies is still a huge issue in today’s society.  One of the most popular campaigns for positive body image would have to be NOW’s Love Your Body Campaign. (Link below)


College campuses across the country are hosting events to promote positive body image. There are also many media literacy sites and programs popping up across the country to call out advertisers about how ads are formed and women’s bodies are used.

http://medialiteracyproject.org/  (Check this out!)

So as one might be able to see there is a lot more to that incident than just me going to work with a crop top on.


Do you want to tell your story? You can do so here. You will be kept anonymous (leaving an email address is optional) unless you ask not to be.

One Response to “Disrespectful Clothing at UNM [Tell Your Story]”

  1. Akusua Akoto May 7, 2013 at 6:08 pm #

    This definitely speaks to the abuse of power between women of different generations and sounds like you were dealing with two women with unresolved body issues. Its amazing how we can shame and attack each other. How these women treated you and your body was disrespectful and there’s that whole ‘mother-hen-I-Know-whats-best-for-you-child.’ I don’t think your experience is something that should be downplayed or pushed aside. Yes, there are limits to how people express their bodies in public, yet who determines those limits ?

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