When 17-year-old Sylva Stoel found a pair of shorts in the “career” section of the JCPenney store that she works in, she likely trusted its judgment. After all, who would sell something that they didn’t believe in?
Apparently, JCPenney would. Stoel was sent home from work for wearing the very same shorts that she had bought from the Sioux Falls, South Dakota branch of the chain clothing store. The shorts that the store itself had marketed as “professional.”
Boss sent me home for wearing "too revealing" shorts that I bought from the store I work at in the career section. pic.twitter.com/vrAnN4beC2— Sylva (@queenfeminist) July 24, 2015
It seems like the folks over at JCPenney don’t quite practice what they preach. Or maybe that should be “preach what they practice”? Either way, the hypocrisy comes across loud and clear.
Stoel’s boss deemed the shorts “too revealing,” a judgment that Stoel finds unfair.
“They didn’t show anything other than my legs, which I don’t think is too provocative.”
Stoel, whose twitter handle is, quite appropriately, “@queenfeminist,” notes that hers is one of several incidents of body policing.
“Unfair dress codes affect millions of women, and it’s time to speak out against them.”
Hey @jcpenney wanna know how to appeal to ur millennial customers ur losing? Bring ur dress code to the 21st century.— Sylva (@queenfeminist) July 24, 2015
A spokesperson for JCPenney would not comment on such “personal matters,” but did note that
“JCPenney’s dress code policy for store associates prohibits the wearing of shorts of any length.”
A policy which allegedly extends to men and women both.
Some would argue that a dress code exists for a reason, but it's also true that dress codes evolve over time. There was a time when pants were thought of as inappropriate for women, a notion which seems absurd to us today. Who's to say that JCPenney's particular policies aren't equally outdated, especially since they appear to be contingent upon notions of female modesty?
Stoel claims that she was never even informed of that particular aspect of JCPenney's dress code policy.
“"The only word the manager said on dress code during my job orientation was that denim was not allowed, t-shirts were unacceptable, spaghetti-strap tank tops weren't allowed and skirts couldn't be 'too short'. But I was never warned that wearing linen shorts to work could get me sent home."
Much of the Twitterati is behind Stoel 100%.
While others are far less impressed.
@queenfeminist I'm surprised he didn't say anything about the shoes as well. There's a dress code for a reason. Your attire isn't profesh.— ??? ?Lindsay? (@hedgehognrabbit) July 30, 2015
@LincolnStoel When she grows up she'll realize how childish she acted@queenfeminist— LaylaJ (@_LaylaJ) July 29, 2015
At the very least, Stoel’s story has reinvigorated a conversation about the treatment of women at work.
My 15 mins of fame are going fast, but the issue of sexism in dress codes won't go away. Ppl will continue to speak up until it is solved.— Sylva (@queenfeminist) July 30, 2015
What's more, the young teen got the last laugh.
"He asked how long it's take for me to go home & change. I said "idk probably the whole day.""
And she never went back.