Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.
A Florida high school student named Lizzy Martinez says that last week she was made to cover her nipples with Band-Aids by the dean at her high school. Now, Martinez and fellow teens in Florida are calling for a nationwide student boycott of bras, which they are dubbing “Bracott,” slated for Monday, April 16.
Martinez went to her high school in Bradenton last Monday without a bra because her shoulders were sunburnt, she told Yahoo. Braden River High School’s dean called the 17-year-old into her office, saying she’d heard a boy in the class talk about Martinez going braless. The dean made Martinez put on an undershirt and then sent her to the nurse’s office to get four Band-Aids to cover her nipples underneath, leaving Martinez embarrassed and in tears. On Twitter, Martinez wrote that she felt the school was teaching her to “be ashamed of my body.”
I decided not to wear a bra today and got pulled out of class bc one of my teachers complained that it was a “distraction to boys in my class.” My school basically told me that boys’ education is far more important than mine and I should be ashamed of my body. @Manateeschools :)— liz (@lizzymartineez) April 2, 2018
Martinez’s mother, Kari Knop, wrote on Facebook that while the dean was a woman, “Had the dean been a male, the bouncing boob request would have been HIGHLY inappropriate and given the culture we live in, I don’t find this request to be acceptable by either sex, as they all could and should be viewed as predatory.”
While the school district later admitted to the city’s local paper that staff could have handled the situation better, they also said Martinez violated the school’s dress code. On Twitter, however, a classmate pointed out that the dress code doesn’t mention anything about bras:
For anyone making the argument that Lizzy “violated dress code”, here is an excerpt from the official 2017-2018 Manatee County dress code: pic.twitter.com/C7BUndw1nn— sami (@samidrouin) April 10, 2018
To some Braden River High students, the bra boycott is about “more than Lizzy and more than our school,” and is about being “body positive.” But bras, and breasts as a whole, are also the cornerstone of understanding feminism and its plight. While there’s the bra-burning myth that’s inextricably tied to the 1960s feminist movement, breasts are also a visible symbol of feminism — perceived as sexual, private, and covert, and used as a tool for demonstrating freedom and rebellion in movements like the SlutWalk, or the #FreetheNipple movement, when Instagram banned photos featuring women’s nipples, whether they carried sexual implications or not.
So far, the Bracott is getting its fair share of support as well as criticism.
I heard what happened and it is disgusting. They were sexually harassing a teen. If I was the parent, I'd be in a rage. It is AWESOME that the kids are standing up to this!— Rachael Bleymaier (@RBleymaier) April 11, 2018
BS! What teenage boy would t get excited of nipples? Hopes she's positive when the boys want to get close to her!— Forreal (@jlucymjohnson1) April 12, 2018
Bracott is the latest chapter of teen activism that’s taken hold in the US. Following February’s deadly school shooting in Parkland, Florida, the student-led demonstration March for Our Lives on March 24 drew millions across the country. On March 14, students nationwide also participated in a National School Walkout, where they honored the victims of the Parkland shooting.
Teen activists were also the reason Dick’s Sporting Goods decided to stop selling guns to customers under 21, and to stop the sale of assault rifles and high-capacity magazines, with Dick’s CEO Edward Stack pointing out that “if the kids can be brave enough to organize like this, we can be brave enough to take these out of here.”
With the Bracott, Gen Z is raising their voices yet again.