Wednesday, September 14, 2016

#TeacherBae and the Body Police: Can a Woman just ******* Live?!?!

Greetings Stripers,
It has been WAY, WAY too long since I’ve written for my own blog. I have been on a long hiatus and writing stories for my friends over at, so if you’d like to take a look at what you’ve missed, head right over. Getting to the matter at hand however, I know by now some of you have seen stories about #TeacherBae and the conversation concerning the appropriateness of her clothing for her profession.  If you haven’t, people with no lives made an issue out of a non-issue the other day in writing this article, and though I’ve been stewing about it for a few days in silence, I decided to use my craft as catharsis. Plus, this is right up Horizontal Stripes’ alley! So alas, this is not exactly a think piece but one of those things that should make you go Hmmm? instead.

In case, you skipped the link I provided above and have been living under a rock, and Atlanta area teacher has been criticized and damn near vilified for wearing allegedly “inappropriate” outfits to work.  She has also been criticized for taking pictures in her workplace that were on Instagram of herself in an empty classroom, and lastly, she has been criticized for “sexualizing herself” by taking pictures: because we all know how people absolutely HAVE to comment on those just because you put them out there. So while everything I just wrote sums up the facts, I’m going to speak to you in the dialogue of Kermit and say, that little Billy’s mom rolled up in her dirty sweats and rat’s nest hairdo for a Parent/ Teacher conference, saw this young lady’s curvy body and beautiful face, felt intimidated, and made this an issue with someone. ***Mmmm, that chamomile sure tastes good today.*** And yes, I’m calling out my ladies because y’all can be catty and petty for absolutely no reason! 99% of the negative comments I’ve seen are from women, though there was a particularly soul searing one I saw by a man telling her to lose weight. Negro please! From where?!!!!!

I’ll go on by saying that I don’t have kids, but I understand why some parents are quick to jump on the “She’s inappropriate!” bandwagon. Americans have a convoluted relationship with sex, the body, policing women in particular, and associating professionalism or merit with outward appearance. I understand that there are social mores that we, unfortunately, are forced to follow in certain environments, however a few comparisons have been drawn between this young lady, and a handsome male teacher who circulated earlier this year nicknamed, “Mr. Steal Your Grandma”, who rocks fitted jeans and formfitting attire to teach his students and in his free time (as he has the right to), and yet no one had anything to say about his student’s wouldn’t be able to concentrate with him around.  This young woman teaches 4th grade students to boot, so though some of them may notice her body, the only reason they should be having “sexual feelings” toward her is because they are being taught that outside of school. I’m not na├»ve enough to say they won’t notice her figure, but as part of her personage, not as a sexual object. Besides if you’re afraid of kids seeing “inappropriate” bodies, how about not using women in various stages of undress to sell everything from burgers to watches to cars, often disembodying them and plastering them on every billboard, magazine ad, and commercial. How about that?

She is not teaching high schoolers, or students closer to her age group which would merit some additional considerations; unfortunately, this is the time we’re living in. It’s just ridiculous how out of proportion this has been blown, and I’m sure it’s by the same people who watch Susan from accounting stroll in, in her “walk of shame” uniform once a week, and want to dish about it with her, but are outraged that this woman simply exists in her body while consciously making clothing choices. I’m not gender bashing here, but notice how Teacher/Accountant Kevin can come to work every day after a series of different one night stands and wear whatever he wants without reference to his clothing. Does anyone care? Of course not. Do they even ask or insinuate what goes on outside of school or in school for that matter when he walks in. The answer is simply: no. Even when he posts things to his personal social media. How is this fair? It’s not. Oh yeah, I know.
 Teachers do a whole lot, so much so that their lives at school and personal loves often intertwine. There are the endless extra hours lesson planning and grading take, the pay that is so laughable, that almost every educator I know has at least a second part time job and sometimes another full time job, freezing your cheeks off during game duty because there aren’t enough outside volunteers, the lack of appreciation expressed by parents, society at large, and lastly being patient and unbiased with all the little hellions you send our way and practically want us to raise. We do the best we can with love and passion, and the desire to better our students and our country’s future.  We feed them, sometimes clothe them, and in extreme situations find them places to live. You know, REAL problems. At the same time must be wives, mothers, fathers, husbands, aunts, uncles, chefs, bus drivers {sometimes literally), disciplinarians, mentors, and a million other things to our students; way more than just someone who has to teach them the skills to advance to the next grade level.
This issue struck me as deep enough to write about because I feel that many of her critics are operating on a few hundred thousand assumptions, and she has won awards for her professional prowess and is obviously passionate about her profession, but the picture where she’s sitting next to her student, helping them with reading is not a part of this conversation though. Hmmm, I wonder why that is? If this was a mugshot vs student life still of a young teenage black man recently shot by police, a good portion of y’all would be the first to scream, “Racial profiling! How Unfair!”, but you can’t check yourself for your deeply embedded display of sexism and double standards, so I have no problem forcing you to look in the mirror and confront your hypocrisy.
Firstly, teachers are allowed to take pictures of themselves at work, no matter what kind of work they do. If she isn’t involving students without their parent’s consent. She’s allowed to take photos of herself. It’s literally in a consent form that everyone signs at the beginning of the year because when the school decides it wants to use you for good PR, it’ll take whatever it wants including your accomplishments and any independent accolades you’ve earned. Let’s keep it real.  Secondly, it’s clear that she puts thought into her outfits. She always has a high neckline, though she’s busty, for the most part she has on dresses to the knee. I think the only real complaint based on what I know about a school dress code, could be that some of her hemlines are too short to comply with the same dress codes students could get into trouble for, which someone brought to my attention, and I understand that. However, while I don’t think even these things should be such an issue at school or anywhere else for that matter, people seems to be hell bent on vilifying her as attention seeking gutter trash or something. SHE IS WEARING CLOTHES THAT FIT!
One of the assumptions I have the biggest problem with is that she’s almost maliciously wearing “Bodycon” dresses to work, meaning dresses that emphasize a person’s figure by being made often of fabric like jersey or a thinner cotton which drape the body differently than other fabric combinations. I’ve seen everything from, “Leave those outfits for the club,” to “She can wear a bodycon after work on Friday, “ which creates several more assumptions: 1) that she hangs out at the club to make those clothes appropriate, 2) that she is purposely wearing fabrics like those I mentioned above, when it is clear that she is curvy and you would be able to identify her as curvy if she was wearing a burlap sack, so maybe and for the second time SHE’S JUST WEARING CLOTHES THAT FIT, and 3) that even wearing those types of clothes makes her have bad/inappropriate intentions and make her lack the competency to do her job. It almost feels to me like people want her to wear baggy, ill-fitting clothes that would definitely be frumpy and unprofessional in their own right. And just as a side note, teachers have plenty of time to wear their “leisure time” clothing on weekends that are dedicated to all of that lesson planning, project planning, and grading papers.  Teachers don’t have time for, nor can afford separate wardrobes. GTFOH!

      Her body type is her body type regardless of whether she’s dressed down in jeans and a school shirt on casual Friday or whether she’s wearing pant or a dress during the week with heels or flats.  Pants come with their own issues. If you’re a woman who is really full in the hips, thighs, and butt like me, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Then you’re inappropriate for emphasizing body parts, when ALL PANTS FIT YOUR BODY LIKE THAT! I always joke about how I love my “slutty” pencil skirts because I once was in the library working and someone told me I should’ve asked my husband how I looked before I came to work that morning (to check my appropriateness) *Rolls eyes The Exorcist style*, and God forbid you enjoy playing volleyball because with the uniform required, you might as well go into hiding! I do believe that if a less buxom woman were wearing the same things, this story would never have made press, but I’m not going to harp on that in the way that makes the less curvy woman any less worthy, simply because of the way she naturally exists either.
     It’s crazy that this young woman’s life has been turned upside down when she touts her philosophy as God 1st, Educator 2nd.  She is young and still passionate about education, which promising and innovative young people are leaving in droves, for several REALLY good reasons. You want to be outraged about something, be outraged at their treatment, inability to survive based on the compensation, and the amount of bureaucratic, hands tied No Child Left Behind and Common Core BS that keeps kids testing half of the school year away, instead of actually preparing them for life with content that matters. If people would get as up in arms about the deficiencies of the American public school system, as they are about her dresses, we would invoke a lot more change than I’m sure has happened to this poor girl over the last week or so. (Seriously media. You do in fact affect people’s lives!) I could go on and on y’all because this issue touches upon so many intersectionalities! Her dress is only one thing that barely scratches the surface. I’ll wrap it up here though, and set my sights on my homework!

Love, peace, and rock those stripes! (Bodycon or nah!)

<3 Brittani