‘Why are you wearing a T-shirt?,’ I asked when I picked her up. ‘I had to put something on because I need privacy.’ She started bawling.’: Mom urges daughter’s appearance is ‘not nearly as important as her education’

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“The picture on the left is showing what my daughter was wearing to school this morning. The picture on the right is what I picked her up in. She is in kindergarten, and she is 5.

Now, I knew the weather would be nice today. I sent her to school with a light sweater over her dress and jeans underneath of it. It’s a new dress her grandma got her, and she really wanted to wear it. We live in Minnesota and having 65-degree weather in April a week after a snow storm is everything to us in the Midwest. So, I thought, ‘Yeah, it will be nice out, you can wear a dress.’ And that was the end of my thinking. It didn’t occur to me an adult would look at my 5-year-old child and think wearing a dress was inappropriate.

Emily Stewart

She was told she needed to leave class and go to the nurse’s office.

The nurse told her she needed to cover her body and made her put on this T-shirt.

I am not making this post to bash the school or say anything bad. I’m making this post to raise some discussion.

As a mother, how am I supposed to teach my daughter to love and celebrate her body when she has people telling her she ‘needs privacy?’

What exactly is private about a 5-year-old’s shoulders?

Why is it OK to put my daughter’s bare shoulders before her education?

Why was her dress looked at as an inappropriate outfit to begin with? She is 5. Why is she being sexualized?

I asked her when I picked her up, ‘Why are you wearing a T-shirt?’

She said, ‘I was told I had to put something on because I need privacy.’

I then asked, ‘How did that make you feel when they told you that?’

She started bawling.

She was excited to wear that dress to school and show her friends and play in it on the playground.

She said to me, ‘I don’t know why they told me I couldn’t wear my dress. It was super embarrassing.’

How do I teach a little girl that what she wears and her appearance is not nearly as important as her education and self-development when things like this happen?”

Emily Stewart

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Emily Stewart. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here, and subscribe to our best stories in our free newsletter here.

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