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North Carolina Schools' 'No Skinny Jeans' Idea Doesn't Fit Well With Many

The New Hanover County school system recently circulated revisions to its dress code, which already prohibits short skirts and short shorts.
Image: Skinny jeans
Skinny jeans.GVK/Bauer-Griffin / GC Images

Students and parents — and at least one school board member — are objecting strongly to a North Carolina school system's proposal to ban skinny jeans and leggings.

The New Hanover County school system recently circulated the proposed revisions to its student dress code, which already prohibits short dresses, short skirts and short shorts.

"Excessively tight fitting pants" would be banned unless they're covered by a top or a dress that "shall cover the posterior area in its entirety," according to the proposal, which received preliminary approval at the board's April meeting.

The proposals outraged students.

And school board member Lisa Estep also criticized the proposal Tuesday, noting that the revisions appear to inappropriately single out girls.

"I would also expect the rules to be equally enforced for boys and girls," Estep wrote in a long statement posted to her official Facebook page.

NBC station WECT of Wilmington quoted Jeannette Nichols, the school board's vice chairwoman, as saying the proposed policy change was due in part to reports that "some of the bigger girls" were being bullied because of their tight jeans.

Estep wrote that she's still open to the idea — "If a principal feels that it would help his/her particular school environment to tighten the dress code, then so be it" — but she said she was troubled by the message the proposed change would send.

Instead of banning types of clothing, Estep said a better course would be to teach kids to accept their peers.

"As a 6'1" 'bigger girl,' I grew up being teased, bullied, and ostracized at different times in my life. And I know, to my shame, that sometimes I wasn't so nice myself," Estep wrote.

"Guess what? You can't legislate kindness. But you can teach it. You can't legislate compassion. But you can live it," she wrote. "As a system, we should, as best we can, foster an environment where all students feel included and valued."

In a sentiment echoed by some students and parents, Estep added: "Instead of spending time judging students for what they wear, how about we just worry about helping our students learn?"