This 17-Year-Old Was Told to Put Band-Aids on Her Nipples After Not Wearing a Bra to School
[ By Emma Baty | Apr 9, 2018 | via Cosmopolitan ]
She was told she was "distracting" other students.
Lizzy Martinez, 17, poses in the shirt that led school officials to call her a distraction.
Last week Monday, 17-year-old Lizzy Martinez went to school wearing an oversized Calvin Klein shirt without a bra underneath. She ended up in the school nurse's office later that day putting Band-Aids over her nipples — because she was told they were distracting other students.
Martinez was pulled from her fifth-period class and originally sent to the dean's office at Braden River High School in Bradenton, Florida. There, the dean allegedly told her her breasts were "distracting" to other students, and that a boy had been "laughing at her," which constituted a violation of the school's dress code. Clothes that are a distraction to others are against the code, and her nipples were deemed as a distraction.
While she was in the dean's office, Martinez says she was given another shirt to wear. "They had me put on a second shirt and then stand up and, like, move and jump around to see how much my breasts moved," Martinez told BuzzFeed News. "I was mortified." From there, she was sent to the nurse's office, where the nurse gave her four Band-Aids, two for each nipple.
"They told me to cross out my nipples and I just went to the bathroom and cried," Martinez said. "I was in shock that it was such a big deal that I wasn't wearing a bra. Most days I don't wear one. It depends on my mood... why should it matter?"
Martinez's mother Kari Knop received a call from the school first telling her there was an issue with her daughter's dress, and then her daughter called her to tell the story. Knop was furious that her daughter was taken out of class because her appearance was "distracting" others.
"It's a disgusting example of a double standard and shows how our culture body-shames women. If a boy was staring at her nipples that long why was he not spoken to or punished?" Knop told BuzzFeed News. When she met with officials from the school, even the principal admitted that "she didn't see anything wrong" with the outfit.
When the story started to make the rounds on social media, the school released a statement through Mitchell Teitelbaum, the district's general counsel, saying it mishandled the situation, but Martinez's outfit was in fact a violation of the school's dress code because it was distracting other students.
"This matter was brought to the attention of the Superintendent’s Office for review. It is undisputed that this matter should have been handled differently at the school level and corrective measures have been taken to prevent a reoccurrence in the way these matters will be addressed in the future," Teitelbaum said. "There was a violation of the School Dress Code and it was an appropriate matter to address by the School. It is clear the intent of school officials was to assist the student in addressing the situation. No disciplinary action was taken in relation to the student."
The school's dress code doesn't specifically require students to wear undergarments, though. But in conversations Knop said she had with Superintendent Diana Greene, the district plans to amend the policy so undergarments are included.
Since the incident, Martinez says she's been getting messages of support from both her classmates and people all over the country. She hasn't returned to school since she was called to the principal's office because she says she's uncomfortable returning to school and a teacher she knows sexualized her.
"It's very uncomfortable for people to talk about but this is a big issue that a lot of girls feel targeted and sexualized and have to live up to a standard of what we have to look like and wear," she said. "So I'm just going out and putting myself out there and starting this conversation because we obviously still need to have it."