by Jamie Hale
Skinny jeans are a classic staple of today’s youth, who like their clothes skin tight and their dress codes nonexistent. But what happens when a university’s dress code specifically prohibits the hip-and-leg-hugging denim? BYU-Idaho found out first-hand after a temporary, unofficial ban set off an internet firestorm against the college. That’s right, this one has been good.
Brigham Young University, Idaho, like it’s main Utah hub, maintains a strict dress code that prohibits things like bib overalls, sleeveless shirts, sweat suits or general “grubby attire.” It also prohibits “tight or formfitting clothing,” which is a direct slap in the face for all the skinny jeans enthusiasts out there.
The dress code has been the source of some nation-wide critique, however, after a student was allegedly kicked out of a testing center due to the skinniness of her jeans. The BYU Scroll has the scoop:
At 8:30 p.m., 30 minutes before the Testing Center was scheduled to close, [senior psychology student Rachel] Vermillion entered the facility prepared to take her test and was told by an employee there that she would not be permitted to enter.
“I got in line and the guy said that I couldn’t take a test because my pants were too tight,” Vermillion said. “I thought he was joking at first.”
Alas, it was not a joke! Despite the testing center’s history of giving out warnings before flat-out denying entrance to students, they decided to crack the whip and crack it hard in the face of tight jeans. According to Vermillion, her jeans weren’t even of the “skinny” variety! She was simply wearing a regular-fit pair of jeans on her self-described “curvy” body.
On Tuesday, Gawker, a New York-based snark blog, picked up the story and ran with it, boldly proclaiming that the ordeal was probably “just a straightforward dispatch from the strange, sexless world of Mormon higher education.” In their own story about Vermillion, Gawker spin-off blog Jezebel questioned the BYU-Idaho’s policy’s effect on the female body image:
[Vermillion] is clearly committed to her religion, and just wants to be treated with fairness and respect. Hopefully now that she’s told her story publicly, BYU officials will take a hard look about whether their dress code places an unjust burden on some of their students.
By now, the skinny jeans story has legs of it’s own (ha!), and is being used as a poster child for many national news organizations who don’t quite understand the rules of this strange Mormon culture, but love to write anything they can about it! But is all this ranting about skinny jeans for naught? According to Salt Lake Tribune blogger Peggy Fletcher Stack, there isn’t even a ban at all.
Although the testing center put up a sign banning the pants and went so far as to kick out Vermillion, the university said there isn’t actually a formal ban. BYU-Idaho spokesman Andy Cargal said the testing center’s policy was changed once the university found out about it. Cargal said the school expects students to dress modestly, but “we leave it up to them to use their own agency to figure out what’s modest and what isn’t.” That doesn’t mean other attire, like flip-flops, are allowed, but it does mean that skinny jeans aren’t expressly forbidden.
But let’s assume for a second that they were. Would it be such a big deal? Students attend BYU-Idaho knowing full well the dress code policies, and skinny jeans typically fall under the “tight or formfitting clothing” section. Although it seems ridiculous to ban Vermillion from taking her test, calling the policy an “unjust burden” seems a little dramatic, considering students volunteer to adhere to the rules when they accept admittance.
But you know what? None of this even really matters, since skinny jeans aren’t actually banned! The university has basically apologized, and come out kind of for the choice of skinny jeans, even if they don’t think the pants are “modest” enough. So, Gawker, Jezebel and everyone else, looks like you don’t have any dirt on Idaho after all! Except this, this, oh and also this.