Actor Nicole Ciravolo has become a TikTok sensation after her character Ms. Connie stuck up for a young girl's right to learn in the classroom, no matter what she was wearing.
Nicole Ciravolo is an actor, screenwriter, and a viral TikTok sensation. In two recent videos posted to the social media platform, she called out dress codes for being sexist as they disproportionately target girls—some of whom aren't even teens—and place an unfair burden on them for "distracting boys." In the clips, she plays the role of a school receptionist named Ms. Connie who is in charge of directing students to the principal when they are cited for dress code violations. When a "student," that is, the viewer (presumably a teenage girl), reaches her desk for one of those violations, she decides to phone up the teacher instead and give him an earful.
Among many other things, she calls out dress codes for being "sexist and misogynistic" but she also claims that the teacher, an adult man, is "a little bit creepy" for caring about "an underage girl" and how her shoulders are showing during a class wherein students were prepping for a test. Through this brilliant narrative, Ciravolo is also able to point out that girls miss out on time that they could be spending studying, learning, or doing classwork when they are sent to the principal's office for silly dress code violations. After all, when it's 95 degrees out, it's only fair that girls are allowed to be dressed comfortably, just as boys are. If the rules were applied equally, maybe schools would have some say in the matter, but more often than not, girls face the brunt of these rules.
In an interview, Ciravolo shared what motivated her to film the TikTok video in the first place. "I was mostly inspired by the treatment I received as a high school student from faculty when it came to dress code," she said. "I often felt shamed by [women] faculty and sexualized by [men] faculty. I wanted to create a character that I wish I’d had in school because I never felt like anyone was in my corner—and that’s what Ms. Connie has become. I never in a million years would have expected it to blow up like it did, but I’m not surprised that many people relate to wishing there was someone in power on their side in school." However, just as the actor had experienced such incidents, other girls had too.
She claimed that dress codes were created not for students, but for the benefit of faculty. She explained, "They often have elements of racism and sexism disguised as ‘professional’ (i.e. sagging pants or no bra straps showing). In my own experience, skirt/shorts length or bra straps don’t distract other students but instead the teachers. It’s sickening to think back to being a 15-year-old minor and getting sent to the office by a man in his 60s because my shorts made him uncomfortable. Those types of people should not be teaching minors." Dress codes are problematic for several more reasons, such as propagating the male gaze (which tells young girls that their bodies must always be seen through the eyes of straight men) and cis-heteronormativity (assuming that all boys would be "attracted" to girls because everyone is straight). Ciravolo's videos have resonated with young girls and women everywhere. While things may not change anytime soon, we can all at least envision better school experiences through her narratives.