Writing the Self #3: What’s Wrong with Pink?

As I walked down the hallway, shuffling through the too-warm bodies of students just out of gym class, side passing boys covered in sawdust from shop class, and holding my breath through the clouds of perfume that seemed to follow certain girls; I heard a commotion of raucous laughter and the displeased voice of our school’s vice principal.

“You have to change your pants. Sweatpants with writing on the butt are inappropriate and are against the school dress code.” He was lecturing a girl in my class. Someone I hung out with. She had blonde hair, the colour of straw. She wore a white t shirt and a pair of sweats that said “Pink.”

No skin showed. No underwear. She looked nice. I wish I had a pair of those pants- they were “in” and they were comfy! The girls in the crowd scowled while the boys covered their sniggers and sneers with hands. My brain was numb- from the realization that I would be judged for my looks and fashion choices more so than my brain or personality, or from the overwhelming scents of Victoria’s Secret, Bath and Body Works body spray or the cans of Axe that were sprayed in the gym lockers before break.

I’ve never realized that what I wore mattered before, and I didn’t understand why those four letters were so offensive. I regularly saw boys wearing their jeans so low that one could see their Aeropostale patterned boxers. How was that more acceptable than the word “Pink?”


3 thoughts on “Writing the Self #3: What’s Wrong with Pink?

  1. Hi Robbi!

    Thank you for sharing this story. Dress codes like this continue to blow my mind, as they tell young (typically) women that their education is less valuable than their (typically) male peers. It reaffirms that young men have the right to access education without distraction, and that young women are that distraction. It gives young men the power from a grade level to effect a young woman’s access to education. This is INFURIATING.

    You are totally right, why does having text on the back on someone’s pant effect another persons access to education? I am so sorry that this young girls access to education was affected in such a negative way.

    I am curious though, what was your response in the moment? When I was in school, I can remember an instance where a group of girls were wearing “short shorts” were sent home to change. Quickly the rhetoric surrounding these girls was that they were “sluts”, and regretfully I participated in that, though now my response would be very different.


    1. We (as a collective grade) were incredibly upset. I think it was more of a “sweats with words on butt” are the only comfy pants we own rebellion than a “that’s sexist” muttering. They eventually made boys pull pants up (the janitors had to have string and duct tape for the boys as improv belts). We also weren’t allowed to give hugs in school that year and had training for special, non-touching hugs. I think it was just a lot of changes in a brief amount of time more so than the sexism of some actions.


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