One college student was incredibly surprised when she was kicked out of a mall for simply wearing shorts and a tank top.
Hannah Pewee, 20, was shopping at the Woodland Mall in Kentwood, Mich., when a security guard asked her to leave after receiving complaints about her outfit. She described the ordeal in a lengthy post on Facebook, which garnered over 11,000 likes and 600 comments.
“As many of you know, it is NINETY degrees outside today in West Michigan. Aka, really hot. So, of course, I decided to dress for the weather: shorts and a tank top,” she wrote. “But apparently, how I was dressed was too ‘slutty’ for the public, as I was kicked out of the Woodland Mall today.”
“Yup. Apparently some anonymous person reported me to MALL SECURITY for inappropriate dress and I was kicked out,” she continued. “Never mind that within a one foot radius there were plenty of girls dressed just like me, since it’s NINETY degrees outside. I am so angry right now I’m shaking. I felt so embarrassed I almost cried. All because a stranger didn’t like how I dressed.”
She tells Yahoo Style that her removal from the mall was not in line with its policy, as the mall’s website said nothing about clothing length at the time of her removal.
“At the time, I had no idea what the mall’s clothing policy was,” she says on why she didn’t protest her removal. “I didn’t know it didn’t say anything about clothing lengths, so I wasn’t about to start arguing with them.”
The Woodland Mall’s dress code policy from their website reads as follows: “Appropriate attire, including shirts and shoes, is required. Clothing with inappropriate words, phrases or graphics is not permitted and is subject to mall management approval. Excluding attire worn in accord with religious practice, tradition or significance, deliberately obscuring the face is prohibited.”
Pewee also points out that she actually bought the shorts she was wearing at a store at the same mall.
“They claimed their policy was that ‘everything needed to be covered.’ This isn’t accurate, as when I got home and checked their website, their policy was only, ‘Appropriate attire, including shirts and shoes, is required,'” she says. “The offensive article of clothing appeared to be the shorts, which I had purchased at Forever 21 in the Woodland Mall last year. I found this ridiculous. Why should we shop at a store we can’t even wear the clothes of?”
Pewee felt that the mall was absolutely in the wrong and should make moves to apologize to her and change their policy.
“The Woodland Mall should be ashamed of themselves, as well as that anonymous complainer,” she wrote at the time of the incident. “It’s my body, and it’s hot outside! I’m not going to show up in jeans and a sweater, sorry. Don’t like it? Look away! I was out having a fun time with my sister and next thing I know, I’m out on the street. Slut-shaming how girls are dressed is deplorable and outdated, and it needs to stop.”
The Woodland Mall did not immediately respond to Yahoo Style’s request for comment. But in response to an angry commenter on its social media page, a representative from the mall apologized, addressing the situation with the following statement:
“Yesterday we reached out to the shopper to personally apologize and come to a resolution. We also addressed hundreds of comments across social media, but we’d still like to make a public apology for unintentionally embarrassing a shopper who was asked to leave our Mall. We can assure you that the enforcement of our dress code was solely motivated by complaints from other shoppers of inadequate clothing coverage not reflected in the photo posted online. We dropped the ball by enforcing a dress code that didn’t take into consideration current summer trends. We also apologize to our community for the way in which this situation was handled.”
The representative also added, “We’re currently reassessing the level of detail in our dress code and will train our team on it to keep this from ever happening again.”
In a follow-up post, Pewee explained that she appreciated those supporting her through the ordeal and explained that her end goal was for the mall to reexamine its dress policy.
“I definitely think that they need to clean up their act. Their clothing policy on their website doesn’t say anything about clothing lengths. If there is such a strict policy, that needs to be *public information* — not something security officers spring on unsuspecting customers. Especially with summer coming around, there’s going to be a lot of girls like me, going to the mall and not knowing their breaking some secret dress code,” she wrote in the post.
It seems that her complaints were received, as the mall reached out to Pewee and apologized for the incident, assuring the college student that the dress code would be revised.
“Alright, so I talked on the phone with the someone on the management team at Woodland, and they apologized for what happened yesterday. Apparently they’re going to revise their clothing policy on their website so it is clearer what is and isn’t acceptable. In addition, security will be discussing how to properly handle situations like this,” she wrote on Facebook.
Pewee says she wasn’t given any details on the changes the mall plans to make. “They didn’t tell me that they plan on changing their policy per se — all they said was revise,” she says. “I have no clue if they’ll make any changes, and personally, I don’t think that it’s up to me to decide whether or not changes should be made.”
If the code is not revised dramatically, Pewee thinks it should at least be made more clear to shoppers.
“If they are going to keep their dress code, they need to made it public information — not some hidden rulebook,” she shares. “If they’re going to kick out shoppers for the length of their shorts, that should be posted on the entryway doors, or in a public area in the mall, so we can decide whether or not we want to shop there. I’ve been shopping at the Woodland Mall ever since I was a kid, and after all these years, I had never heard of a dress code.”
Although the college student didn’t post the message on Facebook hoping it would gain nationwide attention, she hopes that people can learn from it.
“Even though I originally complied and left the mall, once I had left, I became more aware of how what happened didn’t feel right. I hope that people can become aware that even in 2017, this is still an issue,” she says. “Even though Woodland had publicly apologized for this, there’s still commenters out there who refuse to believe this happened, and still call me a liar. I think people need to realize that this is a problem women are facing on a daily basis, and it’s not right. I hope this can serve as a message to anyone, regardless of gender, that they shouldn’t be afraid to be themselves and dress how they want to dress. I believe we need to love ourselves for who we are, not tear each other down because you may not like someone else’s personal choices.”
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