Students at The Mary Louis Academy, the all-girls Catholic high school in Jamaica Estates, have been incessantly reminded about the length of their skirts. The principal, Sister Kathleen McKinney, has made several announcements about the issue over the course of the school year and has even threatened to remove the skirts from the uniform altogether, as many other schools have done.
That has not, however, stopped many girls from rolling up their skirts at the waist to make them shorter. The standard length is 2 inches above the middle of the knee, but it seems that many of the girls would rather create their own dress code.
The phenomenon is not new to McKinney, who has been principal of the academy for many years.
“Over the years, there have been many variations of the skirt length,” McKinney said. “We are trying to be attuned to the way young women dress, but they need to have respect for themselves. Rolling up skirts has been an issue everywhere, in all past ages.”
Asked how she personally feels about the issue, she said, “I do not feel angry or upset, I feel definite. We are always trying to teach; part of the education process is teaching how to dress appropriately. I just feel that this is a topic in which girls need to be reminded.”
She added that most, if not all of the faculty, feels a sense of distaste and discomfort when seeing the girls who dress this way.
And, it seems, so do many of the students.
“I think that the skirt lengths can be a bit ridiculous sometimes,” sophomore Amanda Gillespie said. “When I'm walking up the stairs, I really don't want to be worried about being flashed. But, it isn't all the time that people need to worry, because there are girls who do follow the dress code.”
Freshman Klaudia Trela offered a more neutral view.
“Honestly, I think the way some girls wear their skirt may be a little too short, while most girls wear it at an appropriate length, a little above the knee,” Trela said. “I see mostly sophomores and freshmen wear them shorter than the juniors and seniors. But overall, I think that the school length of the skirt isn't too long, or at least not as long as the girls may think they are, such as when they bend over, and so on.”
The opinion that the underclassmen wear their skirts shorter than the upperclassmen is common. “Oh, I definitely think they're too short,” Junior Jamie Alberici said. “I was walking next to a freshman on the stairs and saw the color of her underwear! You would think that the freshmen would be the most afraid to do that, but they're not. I was actually offended.”
“I honestly think that some girls' skirts are too short,” senior Nadine Choucri agreed. “Some skirts are just unnecessarily short, and we are representing the school in our uniforms.”
Many students say the need to be reminded about skirt length only applies to a certain group of the students, but according to McKinney, the girls must follow the uniform rules if they wish to wear skirts when returning in September.