Kamloops student embroiled in dress code dispute gains national attention | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kamloops student embroiled in dress code dispute gains national attention

Karis Wilson, 17, has received messages from all over the country and into the U.S. after being "dress-coded."
Image Credit: FACEBOOK/Chris Wilson
February 26, 2021 - 5:02 PM

Kamloops high school student Karis Wilson has garnered international attention after she made a teacher "uncomfortable" over her classroom fashion choice.

Since a video rant by her father Chris Wilson went viral, followed by news organization from around the world jumping on the story, Karis said  "thousands" of girls across the world have reached out to thank her for bringing so much attention to being "dress-coded."

Yesterday, Feb. 25, her fellow Norkam Secondary students supported her with walk-out. The demonstration was aimed at both supporting Karis and to protest the objectification of female bodies. The message spread well beyond Kamloops.

"At first, it started in the school, then girls from the Okanagan and all around B.C. were reaching out. But then I was getting messages from Ontario, New Brunswick and down in the States," she said. "All these girls, and even moms, were saying they've experienced the same issues but haven't brought it up because they don't feel anything will change."

But the attention comes at a price. She's also had people bully and criticize her online. They've told her she was "asking for it" or criticized her fashion choice.

"I'm actually not Ok right now, but it's OK not to be," Karis said. "It's hard being a young girl and be so vulnerable, but it's so worth it for all the young girls who go through the same thing. The grass is green where you water it, so if I feed the negative stuff that will take over the message."

School District 73 now plans to consult "community partners" and students as it revised the student dress code.

"There was always a plan to review the dress code procedure," communications manager for School District 73 Diana Skoglund said. "Society always changes, legislation changes, so dress codes change too."

The school district, however, would have preferred the incident remained within the school community.

"It may not be a dress code issue but a social media issue," Skogland said. "One of the important things to come out of this would be that if a parent is upset about something at the school, they should speak to the school. If they are not satisfied with the discussion there, they can go to the board office. The board office will address and take the matter seriously."

To Karis, it's not surprising they would rather keep the conversation within the school, but that same sentiment is exactly why she's had so many women reach out to her.

Many of those who reached out to her said they've either taken their complaints up with their schools and haven't seen changes, or they don't bother to because they expect nothing to be done.

Karis wants to see the school "reevaluate and modernize" their dress code. She takes particular issue with the district's code which permitted the teacher to have the decision as to what was distracting or inappropriate about her outfit.

She did not attend school today.

"I actually like that teacher. Before this, we've never had an issue. But I think she's wrong and I don't want to go to class and let this be the elephant in the room," Karis said. "People can make mistakes, but it's important to acknowledge it and learn from it."

While her story has now moved well beyond the bounds of Kamloops, and even the province, Karis is happy that it's taken off so other young girls can look to her and see that they aren't alone. The online bullying and criticism, she said, is another sign that this is a wider issue than just a fashion choice.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Levi Landry or call 250-819-3723 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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