University Asked Female Students to Wear Low-Cut Tops to Graduation

Maggie Parker
(Photo: Getty Images)

School dress codes are usually meant to keep kids covered up and conservative. Apparently, not in Belgium. The Université libre de Bruxelles has courted controversy for encouraging women to wear “revealing necklines” to graduation.

The instructions were given via email and a humorous Facebook page unofficially associated with the school called ULB Confessions brought it to light by posting it on the social media platform. Translated to English, the instructions read, “From an aesthetic point of view, it is preferable for young women to wear a dress or skirt, and a nice [revealing] neckline.” They used the word “décolleté,” which is usually used to describe low-cut.

So, basically, the school requested women show their cleavage at graduation.

“Of course, ladies, this advice is not obligatory,” the message added. Making matters worse, the instructions for men simply suggested they wear a “a suit.”

“Scandaleux !!!!! A university that is supposed to open our minds and blablabla comes with similar messages talking about women as if we were simple objects that are there for the pleasure of your eyes? !!! Disgusting… disappointing,” one follower commented. “You should be ashamed of yourself to commit this sexism and misogyny! We are in 2017,” another expressed, tagging the university. “Imagine if the ULB suggested that the male graduates wore a low-cut shirt. Preposterous,” another pointed out. “Want to vomit to read the comments … We are in 2017, and we must justify wearing pants! To all the assholes who think they have a say in the outfit worn by women, or who think they are legitimate in their judgment, I would say only one thing: Look at yourself in a mirror and fuck you,” someone else wrote.

“Being a student at the ULB, I was deeply struck by the publication # 10049,” read another post on ULB Confessions, referencing the email. “I would like to address a few words to all the young ladies who will read this: No one has the right to tell you how you should feel in your skin. No one has the right to tell you how you to dress. Nobody has the right to tell you how to play your role as a woman. No one has the right to take away this freedom so hardly obtained (and still …)…Whether you are blonde, brunette, redhead, tall, small, thin, round, black, white, yellow, green, orange, there is only you to judge your person. And in any case, you are beautiful! Ps Even in sweats.”

While the dress code suggestion seemed to be too preposterous to not be a hoax, the dean of the faculty of medicine, Marco Schetgen, confirmed its legitimacy to a Belgian news outlet. He was as shocked as the students when he read it, according to The Independent.

The university issued an apology via Facebook and Twitter that roughly translated to, “The Faculty of Medicine, through its dean, presents its sincerest apologies to all the students who have received the email mentioned below…It goes without saying that the instructions linked to the dress of young female graduates are as far removed from as they are contrary to the values defended daily by ULB and its faculty.”

School dress codes are nothing new, but asking students to flaunt their assets certainly is. In fact, one North Carolina student was banned from graduation for doing exactly what ULB asked of its students – showing a portion of her back and shoulders. Another school dress code prohibits “exposed underarms”!

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