A response to HuffPo’s ‘Young ladies of the SEC, cover it up!’
It was body shaming 101
by Darby Crane
Rebecca Walden wrote an article on the Huffington Post yesterday, addressing young women at SEC colleges to “cover up” on game days. If you didn’t get a chance to read it before it was taken down, you didn’t miss much – it was body shaming 101.
The tone of the article was rude, laced with degrading comments attempting to police the bodies of young college-aged women. If women felt any sort of confidence and pride in their game day outfits, the author set out to make them second guess it, ultimately making women feel ashamed of themselves. All because they don’t dress according to her standards.
“Dear young ladies of the SEC, can you do us all a solid and start covering it up? I wondered if your mother knew what you were wearing…I wanted to tell you that if you’re doing this for a boy, he’s not the one for you. I wished you understood that a trend can be interpreted as fun and flirty without being tasteless. Most of all, I hoped you would soon wake up to embrace the ethos shared by higher learning institutions everywhere – class.
“That lucky shaker tucked into the back of your on trend boot? The team logo you’re sporting on your cheek? The Greek letters sticker on your shirt declaring the sorority to which you belong and your loyalty to your team? All rendered classless by those ill covered curves you’ve made sure are on full display.”
For the Huffington Post to allow an article of this content and tone to be published on their website is disappointing. It does not inform, inspire, entertain, or empower, which are the four words clearly shown at the top of the website to describe their stories. Instead, it degrades young women and their worth based on what they choose to wear while attending a football game.
The article has been removed from the site, but how did this get the “OK” from publishers in the first place? Huffington Post, I’m disappointed. As a publisher, you’re aware your platform reaches many readers. So why publish something that goes against your core values?
Sure, it does inspire, entertain and empower body-shamers. It misinforms young women who may have read this piece and suggests that talking down to women in this manner is socially acceptable. It was posted on the Huffington Post, right? So it must be OK. It should never have been published in the first place.
In the article, the author goes on to call young college women “classless” and “tasteless” simply because she does not agree with the latest game day trends and what women are wearing. She talks about seeing bra straps and women showing their curves or a little extra skin, “teetering around on stilettos with your bra straps exposed.”
But in 95 degree weather in the American South, it’s hard not to. And saying girls look as if they belong in a Victoria’s Secret fashion show crosses the line.
She wrote: “I wished I could have wrapped my elephant scarf around one of you.”
So you could have physically policed what young women were wearing instead of just doing so online? If young women were truly baring all, like you believe, this sort of attire would not have been allowed in the stadium anyway.
The author criticized the latest game day trends. It’s a part of game day culture to wear buttons, and if you’re a member of an organization on campus, Greek or not, to wear a button saying your organization “loves the Tide.” Students also wear the Alabama “A” on their cheeks. These may not have been a part of the author’s game day culture back then, but it is now.
According to The University of Alabama, in the fall of 2015, 55% of the 37,100 undergraduate students were women. While there are 14 schools in the SEC, the number of young women the author of this piece has gone out of her way to cyberbully is astounding. For an adult woman to speak in this tone and manner to young women is disappointing.
She went on to criticize the fans, saying they were “operating under the misguided notion that you look irresistible.” Don’t try to strip someone of their self confidence, especially not someone half your age.
In case the author is unaware, it is the 21st century – when women are no longer told who to marry or how much they are worth. Now, it’s time to stop telling us what we can and can’t wear. Forget female empowerment and trying to build young girls’ confidence if women are body shaming other women, and turning to media platforms to tear us down.
Rebecca Walden, while little eyes are watching us on game days, they are also watching what you write online. I’m sorry you feel embarrassed for the young women that passed you on game day. I feel embarrassed for you for body-shaming hundreds of thousands of young women and believing it is OK to do so. If you want people to exhibit more class, lead by example.