Mom left fuming after Joburg school 'body shames' her daughter on civvies day

By Nombulelo Manyana
18 February 2017

The girl was told she would be “distracting to the boys and male teachers”.

A 17-year-old schoolgirl was shocked when a teacher pulled her out of assembly on Tuesday.

It was Valentine's Day, and Trinityhouse High School in Little Falls, Johannesburg had allowed pupils to wear casual clothes.

The girl, who cannot be named, had donned a red crop top with a pair of skinny jeans and sandals.

As the learners made their way into the hall for assembly that morning, the Grade 12 learner was stopped by a teacher and told to go wait in the school's office.

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There she was confronted by the grade head and principal, who told her that she would not be allowed to go to classes that day because her outfit was “completely inappropriate for school”.

She says she was told to change into a different top or stay in the sickbay for the rest of the day because she would be “distracting to the boys and male teachers”.

The teenager eventually phoned her mother.

“My child was crying on the phone and when I got to the school she was upset and begged me to take her home,” her mom told YOU.

“I helped her get dressed and I was happy with what she wore, I didn’t think there was anything wrong with her outfit.”

But according to the devastated mother, the principal did not agree.

"She said the way girls dress today was disgusting and she was personally offended by my daughter's outfit.”

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The teenager says the principal kept on emphasising to her that there were gardeners, male teacher and boys at the school.

“When the principal walked into the office she just looked at me and said there is no excuse, I was dressed inappropriately and it’s disrespectful towards them [the men at the school].”

“I was actually shocked, because I had dressed in the same outfit last year and didn’t have any complaint,” she added.

Andries van Renssen, general manager at Trinityhouse Schools, said in a statement to YOU that the Grade 12 learner was in obvious violation of the dress code. He said she had been offered another shirt to wear twice before her mother arrived, but she declined.

“Every effort was made to manage the situation discreetly and away from her fellow pupils,” said Van Renssen.

“The situation was resolved quickly. The pupil chose to accept a brand new shirt from the principal in the presence of her mother. She went to her lessons appropriately dressed, after having missed no more than the first period of the day,” he added.

The girl's mother posted about the incident on Facebook because she was tired of how "society suppressed women" and "this was not the first incident she had heard of".

fbpost“We are slut-shamed for how we dress because we should not upset or be titillating men. It’s not fair to do that to a young girl.”

The public post has been widely shared, but generated a mixed bag of responses.

"She has only herself to blame. No decorum," on commenter wrote.

But another said, "Oh please, she is covered except when she raises her arms, when a tiny portion of stomach is 'exposed'. I have seen worse at my daughter's primary school with pants so tight it looks like spray paint. You look stunning girl!"

Trinityhouse said the school and the principal condemn any kind of sexual violence, body shaming and victimisation.

They stressed that the principal did not say that victims of sexual assault are to blame for sexual assault.

"She also neither condoned nor perpetuated body shaming. She did however say that school was a learning environment and that the way one dresses needs to be conducive to learning."

"Trinityhouse regrets that this incident has reached the public domain. The school is confident, however that the issue (the first of its kind) was addressed in the most appropriate fair and reasonable manner.

"The pupil’s mother has had no further interaction with the school management on the matter. This is regrettable. She has, however, been vocal on social media."

Read the school's statement here.

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