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"Parents accuse schools of body-shaming as girls are told to wear shorts under skirts"

(145 Posts)
ixion Fri 11-Jun-21 08:58:42

Sunday Times June 6th p.11

(Some primary schools) "are introducing 'modesty shorts' for girls as young as four. Some head teachers ask children to wear shorts under summer dresses so they do not show underwear whilst doing activities such as handstands in the playground".

Next and River Island apparently market 'modesty shorts' (2+ years and 5+ respectively) and Gap calls them 'cartwheel shorts to layer under dresses'.

It's a good few years since I dealt with children of this age, and even more since we all used to tuck our frocks into our knickers at playtime to do handstands against the walls of the outside toilets.

What do people think?

TerriBull Fri 11-Jun-21 09:13:27

I read a report in yesterday's Times entitled "Harassment is now the norm in our schools" as stated by Ofsted. I found the content of that article truly shocking, the sheer deluge of abuse girls are having to undergo on a daily basis now is awful. So with all that in mind, I guess that's why schools feel the need to implement such measures, and it seems this has to start very early, although 2 plus certainly does sound extreme. Yes I remember tucking dresses into knickers for certain activities, and possibly we girls were the butt of some sniggering and finger pointing from the boys, and you would get the occasional chancer trying to lift up skirts, I think they may well have been reprimanded if caught. As far as I can remember that was it, The toxic mix of readily available pornography and social media has a lot to answer for imo.

theworriedwell Fri 11-Jun-21 09:19:07

Talking to teachers I think the issue is that little girls knickers are skimpier than they used to be and certainly no navy blue school knickers like I had to wear at school so the shorts do what knickers used to do.

MaizieD Fri 11-Jun-21 09:20:23

I think The Times is way behind the times. Mothers were discussing this on mumsnet at least a decade ago.

I think it's absurd, but then, at my primary the girls and boys had separate playgrounds so glimpses of knickers were perfectly OK. But, what is the practical difference between knickers and 'modesty shorts'? It all seems a bit Victorian to me.

ixion Fri 11-Jun-21 09:25:40

I would be the first to hold my hands up and confess to being 'behind the times' too!
It is about forty years since I last dressed a child for primary school or congregated at the school gates, which is why I wanted to ask here how much has changed and why?

CafeAuLait Fri 11-Jun-21 09:26:13

Kids are going to play and need to play. Maybe girls can just wear shorts too to give them freedom of movement instead of forcing them to wear clothes that come from a tradition of how girls should be 'ladylike'? Don't get me wrong, I love dresses and wear them often. I'm just past the age of doing cartwheels and climbing on the play equipment now.

Whitewavemark2 Fri 11-Jun-21 09:27:22

The trouble is that by implication young children are being sexualised.

It really is time to stop and think what we are doing.

theworriedwell Fri 11-Jun-21 09:29:21

MaizieD

I think The Times is way behind the times. Mothers were discussing this on mumsnet at least a decade ago.

I think it's absurd, but then, at my primary the girls and boys had separate playgrounds so glimpses of knickers were perfectly OK. But, what is the practical difference between knickers and 'modesty shorts'? It all seems a bit Victorian to me.

Well if the knickers are too skimpy to cover what they are designed to cover and shorts do cover them I think the difference is clear. Probably all too clear when they are all sitting crossed legged listening to teacher.

Boys get clothes that are designed to do the job why can't girls get the same?

theworriedwell Fri 11-Jun-21 09:31:45

Whitewavemark2

The trouble is that by implication young children are being sexualised.

It really is time to stop and think what we are doing.

Well why bother with knickers at all? I see it the other way round, why are little girls being put in skimpy underwear? Well apart from the fact that that is what is on offer. I've noticed this with underwear being skimpier than when I was a child when I was buying it for DD 25 years ago, it is even worse now with GD.

Oopsadaisy1 Fri 11-Jun-21 09:35:01

Our GD was wearing thin Lycra type shorts under her school skirts 10 years ago and she still does, she doesn’t see a problem with it and neither do her friends, to them it’s normal.

Back in the day no one seemed to notice our navy blue knickers, but children aren’t children for very long these days.

lemongrove Fri 11-Jun-21 09:35:37

You are absolutely right worriedwell as one of my young DGC wears tiny knickers and constantly shows them when jumping about and playing.In the past our knickers were bloomers ( just about!) and usually navy blue, much the same as shorts.Many mothers add leggings to a dress, but some shorts would be cooler.

lemongrove Fri 11-Jun-21 09:36:15

X posts Oops 😃

Grandma70s Fri 11-Jun-21 09:36:40

I think it’s very odd and very sad, but a sign of the times.. When I was a little girl I never though about my body at all, and wasn’t remotely self-conscious about what I wore, providing I liked it. Little girls now seem to be image- conscious from an early age.

I went to an all-girls school from the age of seven, but I had a brother and I don’t remember ever worrying about whether he or his friends could see my knickers.

Doodledog Fri 11-Jun-21 09:36:41

I think that a lot of this is about allowing children to have agency over what they wear, and I have no problem with allowing them that.

Forcing girls to go on cross-country runs in Airtex shirts and gym knickers is cruel and humiliating, but we had to do that for years, whilst the boys wore shorts with their tops.

There were perverts back then, too. We didn't call the paedophiles then - they were flashers, or sex-maniacs or dirty old men - but they were there.

Why not just let the girls wear trousers? I am so fed up with women and girls being expected to dress to suit others' expectations about their behaviour. It is doubly ridiculous to (a) insist that girls wear dresses, then (b) tell them that they need to cover their knickers with shorts in case boys/passing men/teachers get turned on by being reminded of what is underneath the knickers. What if the shorts remind them of what is under them? Do the girls have to wear another pair on top? Meanwhile, the boys are running about freely dressed sensibly and appropriately for play.

In the days when girls who wanted to play physical games (or the cliched 'climbing trees') were called 'tomboys', as it was assumed that this was gender-inappropriate (did any women on here not do those things as girls?) then dresses may have been seen as appropriate clothing for little girls. Now that it is more widely accepted that 'tomboys' never existed, and it was just a name invented to curtail the actions of girls, there is no need for restrictive clothing for children of either sex.

There is absolutely no need to sexualise children by making them cover up if they are able to wear sensible clothes in the first place.

CafeAuLait Fri 11-Jun-21 09:37:22

Instead of trying to solve the problem of active young children wearing skirts, put them in more practical clothes. Shorts for everyone. No issue remains.

TerriBull Fri 11-Jun-21 09:37:30

I don't think it's a question of The Times or any other media outlet being behind the times, I'm sure reporting on the subject has gone on for quite a while, but I think as with the "MeToo" movement it's come to a head. There's always a tipping point as with other abuses, they can't stay under the radar forever without the victims fighting back.

TerriBull Fri 11-Jun-21 09:43:16

I too think it's awful that children are being sexualised. I'm sure I read about stores, can't remember which ones, stocking thongs for young children......and there was some hoo ha a while back about a pole, as in lap dancing pole, being marketed for young girls. Yes I know in certain circumstances they can be used in exercise classes but I think they are more well known for their use in sleazy establishments.

JaneJudge Fri 11-Jun-21 09:46:50

My dd had a learning disability and I remember the special school saying if they were to wear school dresses they had to wear cycle shorts underneath and she is in her 20s now (I must admit she still wear a cycle type short under dresses or skirts but I think it's different as she is extremely vulnerable)

Ellianne Fri 11-Jun-21 09:50:51

CafeAuLait

Instead of trying to solve the problem of active young children wearing skirts, put them in more practical clothes. Shorts for everyone. No issue remains.

Well said, CafeAuLait and due to covid this is happening more so as not to be bringing a change of clothes into school. From a practical point of view, shorts or leggings are worn most days, but dresses on more formal days and special occasions.
Calling them "modesty" shorts in the first place just sexualizes girls.

JackyB Fri 11-Jun-21 09:54:19

I remember hanging upside-down from the climbing frame, aged 5/6, and being embarrassed about my knickers. We tucked our skirts up into the legs of our knickers and did not, as we were supposed to, bundle them into the knickers from the top, but they soon tumbled out.

I would have loved being allowed to wear shorts or those "cartwheel pants" under my skirt, if that had been alllwed/available back then.

Ellianne Fri 11-Jun-21 09:56:11

good name "cartwheel pants" * JackyB.

theworriedwell Fri 11-Jun-21 10:01:07

tell them that they need to cover their knickers with shorts in case boys/passing men/teachers get turned on by being reminded of what is underneath the knickers. That is being incredibly rude and judgemental about boys and men. I don't think it is about anyone being turned on by being reminded of what is underneath the knickers it is more about people not wanting to see what is supposed to be underneath the knickers.

I can't think of an occasion when a schoolaged boy has been exposed because of the design of his clothes (many years volunteering in primary schools) and I think girls should get the same dignity so let them wear trousers/shorts/leggings or whatever but let them have the same level of cover as boys get.

Mollygo Fri 11-Jun-21 10:02:12

My GD has been wearing cycle short type underwear as she says it’s more comfortable.
Making girls underwear more substantial would be a good idea to avoid the ‘all children must wear trousers’ situation.
Or make all children wear skirts-that’s an equally sexist decision.

trisher Fri 11-Jun-21 10:03:36

I agree about knickers once being so much more substantial than they are now. My secondary school uniform included "gym knickers" to be worn over the usual white cotton ones, they were maroon and made from a thick cotton material smooth on one side and soft on the other. We were supposed to wear them all the time but mostly wore them for PE. I suppose. they were the equivalent of these shorts.

Blossoming Fri 11-Jun-21 10:03:41

Maybe school skirts should become skorts.