It all started one day when someone posted a random pic in one of the five hundred group chats I’m in.
“What y’all think about what she got on?” the person asked. As per usual, folk immediately start dropping their two cents.
“That dress is so inappropriate,” one girl said.
“She probably could’ve worn a cardigan, but I don’t think it looks that bad,” another stated.
“It looks like she’s going to the club. She know she wrong for wearing that,” said another.
As my peers continued to assess this random woman’s attire, I took a brief moment to observe the photo more closely. In it was a cute, shapely woman who appeared to be in her early to mid twenties, wearing a salmon-colored midi dress in the middle of an elementary school classroom. Her dress is rather form-fitting, but to me it’s nothing outside of what I’ve seen plenty of women wear from work to happy hour to Bible study on Wednesday (with pearls and a blazer, of course).
I chimed in with my thoughts: “I agree her dress isn’t the most appropriate for a classroom setting, but she doesn’t look THAT bad to me, y’all. I just think it’s more noticeable because she’s cute and thick.”
And that was that. I saw the photo, shared my opinion on it and moved on. I honestly expected that to be the first and last time I ever saw, heard of, or spoke about this woman — but then I hopped on Facebook. Up and down my timeline were pictures of this same woman — Patrice Brown bka #Teacherbae — along with novel-length posts and comments criticizing her attire.
Now don’t get me wrong, everyone is respectfully entitled to their opinions regarding this and any other topic for that matter. But this entire week I have sat and watched numerous people — mostly women — drag this young lady FOR FILTH across social media with all types of ridiculous claims and accusations. From her being a horrible teacher, to being a thirst trap trying to “get chose” at school, to being viewed as a sex symbol by her fourth grade male students — tf?? The way folk have been reacting, you’d think this woman’s cleavage and butt cheeks were bursting through the seams. While I agree the dress wasn’t the most appropriate, I still don’t understand the alarmingly high level of uproar it’s been receiving. Especially since 98.4% of the people gasping and clutching their pearls at this woman aren’t exactly the Mother Teresa of 2016. But what’s even crazier to me is the fact that some — keyword: some (so if this statement doesn’t apply to you, don’t take it personally, sis.) — of these same women claiming their sons would be distracted in this woman’s classroom because of her “sexy attire” are the SAME EXACT WOMEN who will argue day in and day out that parents should teach their sons how to control their hormones when they see girls wearing revealing clothing, as opposed to “conditioning” young girls on how to dress in a male-dominated culture. Some of these women are also the same women who went AWF on Auntie Erykah a few months ago for her tweet about how schools should require girls to wear longer skirts in order to alleviate male students and teachers from getting distracted. Again, everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but just wanted to let SOME of y’all know that I peep the moral inconsistency in your viewpoints. But anyways…
Since everyone wants to be fake conservative now, I’ma just go ahead and keep it real: The average, everyday woman does not reserve bodycon dresses strictly for the club. She wears this dress to her sorority sister’s wedding, her great uncle’s funeral, church every other Sunday, the gym (ok I’m just being extra now) and yes, to work. So folk might as well come on down off those high and mighty horses y’all been sitting on all week and stop acting like you ain’t never seen — and done — any of this before. No, you may not have worn a dress like this to work (except you actually have, just with some Tory Burch flats and a cardigan from H&M), but you might have worn it to [insert fancy event here] that had “Formal Attire Only” written in bold font on the invitation. But I digress.
Anyway, my main point here is that none of us are above this woman. At some point, we’ve all worn something, somewhere, that pushed the limits of appropriateness for that particular environment or occasion. Does it make Patrice Brown’s wardrobe selection for work excusable? No. That’s what dress codes are for. However, it does make her human just like the rest of us.
Yes, this dress on her was a bit too much for an elementary school classroom. Yes, it does draw attention. Yes, we all should be aware of what is and isn’t appropriate when it comes to professional attire. But I highly doubt Patrice Brown woke up that morning and went to her closet like, “Hmmm…I wanna look sexy for the kids today. Yep, this dress should do the trick.” No. What happened was, she decided to wear a dress that wasn’t the best choice for work without throwing on a sweater and some flats to make it look more work appropriate — like most of us do. She took a cute picture at work and posted it on IG — like most of us do. And unlike most of us, she got hella attention and backlash from it because she also happens to be shaped like a Coke bottle. But if we’re collectively deciding as a group that form-fitting attire is completely unacceptable in any work environment, I challenge every young professional woman in America — myself included — to retire every ASOS dress you’ve ever doctored up with an over-sized sweater and flats from the “professional” section of your wardrobe.