The Choir Skirt That Started It All
By: Ivy Nguyen & Sara Rodonis
What started as a playful challenge turned into a thought-provoking experience. This week, I (Sara) challenged myself to wear my thirty-two dollar choir skirt—an article of clothing that Conard required only female students to purchase—in order to spite the school. I felt an injustice towards the fact that Conard mandated that female students, and female students only, purchase a specific formal article of clothing. To clarify, our male peers were not obligated to purchase uniform bottoms of their own, as this was the intention of the skirt; they could wear any form of black dress pants they most likely had already acquired, as it is a common garment in male fashion.
Furthermore, this long, dreary, black choir skirt will most likely never be worn by any of my peers outside of our choir concerts. Thus, the thirty-two dollar skirt became even more absurd. The skirt was floor length, and even for someone with my stature, I considered getting it hemmed, which could easily cost upwards of twenty dollars— all for a skirt that would be worn five times. No, thank you. So, for the five days, I tripped over myself and hiked up my skirt, moving from class to class and frequently answering the question as to why I had chosen to wear the unflattering garb. I know what you’re thinking—geez, it’s a thirty dollar skirt. Why is she getting so angsty? But to me, it is the principle behind it that matters—the fact that my gender dictates the price of my clothing goes beyond my attire for a choir concert.
This inequity in price represents the fact that even in 2018, there is still a disparity between women and men. There is a certain phenomenona known as the “pink tax”, which is the notion that on average, women spend more money on goods that have the same function than men do. According to a study from the University of Central Florida, women’s deodorant is priced 30 cents more than men’s. This pricing is also applied to other women’s products, such as razors and shampoo. Although the products differ in scent and appearance, they still serve their universal function, and therefore should be bought at the same price.
But the injustice demonstrated through gendered pricing of merchandise extends further. It overlaps into facilities of healthcare, affecting women’s daily health. As found by the National Women’s Law Center, woman pay around $1 billion more for annual health care than men—a problem referred to as gender rating, the exercise of charging men and women different rates for identical health services, resulting in higher health insurance premiums for women. As stated in a 2012 report from the National Women’s Law Center, 92% of best-selling insurance plans had aspects of gender rating. In order to combat this discrimination, the Obama administration implemented the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which bans gender rating. Although this is illegal under the ACA implemented in March 2010, several plans used before the implementation of this act can still be used by insurance companies today. If the company does not want to update its plans, it can still follow the old version of the plan, meaning women can still be discriminated against today.
So what can be done? Should we all show up to school in our thirty two dollar skirts for a week? Maybe not. But as a nation, we can further support organizations that advocate and enforce equality in circumstances where it is clear that there is a major divide between men and women.