An independent student newspaper at Brigham Young University-Provo recently ignited a national debate on, of all things, skinny jeans.
In an article near semester’s end that has spawned more than 600 comments and 12,000 Facebook Likes, The Student Review focused on BYU-Idaho staffers acting as fashion police and banning some students sporting skinny jeans from taking required exams.
As the buzzworthy piece begins, “Trends come and go, but the skinny on BYU-Idaho’s most recent addition to the honor code shows one trend going more quickly than some students would like. Students at Brigham Young University, Idaho recently encountered a new sign in the university’s testing center that read simply, ‘No skinny jeans.’”
Another portion of the sign, printed on regular computer paper, further explains, “If your pants are tight enough for us to see the shape of your leg, your pants are too tight. If we can see the shape of your belly button, your top is too tight. . . . [If you are wearing such clothing] will you please go home and prayerfully visit with your Father in Heaven and recommit yourself to be a true disciple.”
In November, based on the sign’s tenets, a testing center employee stopped BYU-Idaho senior psychology major Rachel Vermillion from taking a test because he judged her pants to be too tight. Among the ironies of the ban: Vermillion had already been in the center earlier that day and had just come from a meeting with a bishop, both without complaints about her clothing.
As she told The Scroll, a BYU-Idaho student news outlet, “Another girl who worked there told him that the pants I was wearing were looser than hers. It was really frustrating because there were skinny girls who were wearing tight pants who were getting admitted, but I’m curvy so my regular-fitting pants were a little bit tighter on me and he wouldn’t let me in. It was offensive and humiliating.”
The sign and staff judgments are apparently offshoots of the general “dress and grooming standards” suppressing “form-fitting” clothing on all BYU campuses.
BYU is a Mormon school known to some informally as “The Lord’s university.” A Houston Chronicle blog on religion explains, “Mormon college students are used to adapting their style to the school’s modest dress code. Guys keep clean-shaven (even though beards are the thing right now), and girls go for long-sleeved T-shirts layered under tops, dresses paired with cardigans and leggings under skirts.”
The central question related to the jeans ban, according to the Review: “[A]re skinny jeans the gateway style to more scandalous attire, or a legitimate clothing option with a bad rap?”
Upon its publication, the short feature quickly “unleashed a torrent of Internet stories . . . spurring bloggers and news outlets alike to comment on the university’s honor code and unique culture.”
Related “Here’s the Skinny” reports appeared everywhere and soon after prompted an official school response clarifying the ban. As a Gawker writer admitted, “The first time I read [the Review report], I thought it was parody. . . . Skinny jeans: trousers of the devil? Don’t tell Mitt Romney.”
What do you think? Should BYU and other schools with strict fashion rules ease up or hunker down? Have you ever heard of a professor or staff member preventing a student from taking an exam based on what they were wearing?
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