Getting in trouble for wearing short shorts on a hot day is bad enough when you’re dealing with your school’s garbage dress code, so imagine how crappy it would be to get in trouble for your outfit at the mall.
Unfortunately, that’s what Hannah Pewee experienced the other day at Woodland Mall in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
On a 90 degree day this past weekend, Hannah went to the mall with her sister. She wore a Finding Nemo graphic tank top featuring Dory’s infamous “just keep swimming” mantra and a pair of denim shorts with frayed hems. This must have been–as Hannah sardonically put it in a Facebook post–“too slutty” for the general public, because an anonymous shopper allegedly reported Hannah to mall security due to her inappropriate dress.
Yes, the shorts and tank combo above were too inappropriate in the eyes of a random shopper, so security thought it was wise to kick Hannah out of the mall.
“I am so angry right now I’m shaking,” Hannah wrote in a Facebook status, which currently has over 76,00 shares and over 10,000 reactions. “I felt so embarrassed I almost cried. All because a stranger didn’t like how I dressed.”
Hannah claims that other girls at the mall were wearing comparable outfits, so she doesn’t understand why she was singled out. I’m not sure what kind of crowd frequents this mall, but my primary worry is that this was some good ol’ fashioned pearl clutching with a dash of racism. Hannah appears to be a black/a woman of color, and unfortunately non-white people are often hypersexualized (as well as desexualized). Maybe there was something about Hannah wearing short shorts and a top depicting characters in a Disney movie that was more inherently scandalous or deviant than some white girls wearing comparable outfits. I’m not sure, but it’s something that I can’t help but wonder about.
Regardless, this was a reactionary move by mall security. As Hannah said in her post, “Slut-shaming how girls are dressed is deplorable and outdated, and it needs to stop.” Luckily, the Woodland Mall management apologized to Hannah about the entire affair. They promised to revise the mall’s dress code on its website and train security on how to handle similar situations in the future. That’s nice, but hopefully their new rules will make it clear that an outfit like Hannah’s shorts and tank combo is so mind numbingly harmless that nobody should worry about getting kicked out of the mall food court for wearing it.
Short and tank tops didn’t just come into vogue within the last few years, people. They’ve been around for decades. It’s pretty safe to say that young women in the ’70s and ’80s and beyond were allowed to shop ’til they dropped in short shorts without getting into trouble at their local mall. At a time when malls are closing at rapid rates and are failing to maintain regular customers, the last thing they need to do is further alienate their clientele.
Have you ever gotten into trouble for wearing something “inappropriate” outside of school? Tell us in the comments!