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Kim Kardashian style waning: I'm flabbergasted at degree of crass sexism shown by Queen's University of Belfast

By Fionola Meredith

If it wasn't for the reference to Kim K you'd have thought Queen's had fallen into a time warp. "Think Grace Kelly, not Kim Kardashian" - that was one of the university's unsolicited "style tips" to female graduands.

"Short skirts and cleavage on show are totally out of the question," the Queen's website instructed, before thinking better of it and hastily withdrawing the guidance from public view.

Don't dress like Kim Kardashian: that's the key message to women students.

Keep your breasts under wraps, don't expose your derriere, and definitely no topless selfies outside the Whitla Hall.

Even in the 1950s, the Grace Kelly era, I think universities might have thought twice about telling women what to wear to their graduation ceremonies.

But in 2016, such crass, blatant sexism is, frankly, flabbergasting.

Most women do not turn up for their graduations in dresses slit to the navel.

But even if someone did, that would still be entirely her own affair.

Likewise if she arrived in a binbag with a belt round it. It is absolutely not the business of the institution to instruct women in approved standards of personal appearance.

It cannot dictate that certain ways of dressing are "totally out of the question", which it seems to have belatedly realised. But the fact that the advice was posted on the website in the first place is alarming.

Apparently, the university also issued some style tips for men.

I think it's fairly safe to say that they did not include any instructions about keeping parts of the male anatomy covered up.

Graduands - both female and male - attend these ceremonies to receive their academic degrees, which are based on intellectual effort and ability.

To issue "style advice" to them is not just embarrassingly inappropriate, it actually undermines the significance of the graduation ceremony itself, distracting from the value of the degrees being awarded.

This disgraceful episode reminds me of the recent row over a leaked list of grooming rules for prospective women staff at the Dorchester, one of London's swankiest hotels.

According to the leak, women were asked not to attend work with garish make-up or oily skin, and they were also encouraged to shave their legs, make sure their fingernails were manicured and to avoid body odour. In response, Sam Smether, chief executive of women's rights organisation The Fawcett Society, said: "It is completely unacceptable for any woman to be told what she should wear and how she should look.

"This is 2016 not 1970; we need to see an end to this kind of objectification of women."

Never mind 1970, Queen's is back in Victorian times.

Will it issue further guidance to female students recommending that they smell suitably fragrant as they walk across the Whitla Hall stage to receive their degrees?

Laura Shepherd from Cookstown, Katie Mooney from Ballyclare and Morgan Semple from Omagh.
Laura Shepherd from Cookstown, Katie Mooney from Ballyclare and Morgan Semple from Omagh.
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye © Thursday 8th December 2016 Graduations take place at Queens University in Belfast. Janice, Ailbhe, Therese and Miriam McKeith from Ballymena.
Northern Irelands first Regius Professorship has been bestowed upon Queens Universitys Professor John McCanny FRS FREng today (Thursday 8 December). The prestigious award was conferred by the Chancellor, Thomas Moran. Professor McCanny is Director of the Universitys Institute for Electronics, Communications and Information Technology (ECIT), which is working to achieve a step change in Electronics and Computer Engineering research in order to address some of the key technological and ethical challenges facing society today; these include cybersecurity. The esteemed award has been granted by the Sovereign to recognise exceptionally high quality research.
After graduating with a Geography degree from Queen’s last year, Katherine Newell is celebrating again as she receives her Masters in Public Health today (Friday 9 December). The Gloucestershire student Katherine, the first in her family to go to university, is currently working on her DPhil (PhD) in Medical Science having secured a funded place on the Medical Research Council's doctoral training programme.
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye © Thursday 8th December 2016 Graduations take place at Queens University in Belfast. Annoushkee Bayat and her parents Zeenat and Glen
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye © Thursday 8th December 2016 Graduations take place at Queens University in Belfast. Laura Johnston from Donaghadee and her Mum Iris
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye © Thursday 8th December 2016 Graduations take place at Queens University in Belfast. Laura Sheary from County Tipperary
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye © Thursday 8th December 2016 Graduations take place at Queens University in Belfast. Thomas J. Moran Chancellor of Queen's University Belfast
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye © Thursday 8th December 2016 Graduations take place at Queens University in Belfast. Briege O'Neill and her daughter Shannon.
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye © Thursday 8th December 2016 Graduations take place at Queens University in Belfast. Esesua Pigoson, Sater Iayuse, Stzphanle Gbeddy and Collins Amoah-Antwi from Kenya
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye © Thursday 8th December 2016 Graduations take place at Queens University in Belfast. Timothy McGlinchey from Belfast and his fiancee Rachael McErlane.
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye © Thursday 8th December 2016 Graduations take place at Queens University in Belfast. Stephen Hunter from Finaghy and his wife Siobhan.
Chloe Lamont celebrates graduating in English and Film from Queen’s University today. Due to a ¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬ bone condition, Chloe has broken her back three times during her degree, along with two sets of ribs and several other bones.
Chloe Lamont celebrates graduating in English and Film from Queen’s University today. Due to a bone condition, Chloe has broken her back three times during her degree, along with two sets of ribs and several other bones.
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye © Thursday 8th December 2016 Graduations take place at Queens University in Belfast. Michael Rea from Jordanstown and his Grandfather Noel Rea.
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye © Thursday 8th December 2016 Graduations take place at Queens University in Belfast. Stephen Hunter from Finaghy and his wife Siobhan.
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye © Thursday 8th December 2016 Graduations take place at Queens University in Belfast. Tina Ho from Newtownabbey,Michael Kavanagh from Belfast and Lauren St Ledger from Belfast
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye © Thursday 8th December 2016 Graduations take place at Queens University in Belfast. Mary Kate Kilbane from Mullingar with her sister Grace and Mum Jacqui.
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye © Thursday 8th December 2016 Graduations take place at Queens University in Belfast. Kyra Archibald from Coleraine, Dermot Marke from Newry and Louise Lavery from Portadown
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye © Thursday 8th December 2016 Graduations take place at Queens University in Belfast.
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye © Thursday 8th December 2016 Graduations take place at Queens University in Belfast. Amy Mckeown and her friends.
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye © Thursday 8th December 2016 Graduations take place at Queens University in Belfast. Patricia McCann from Belfast and Samanatha Lin from Sydney Australia.
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye © Thursday 8th December 2016 Graduations take place at Queens University in Belfast. Patricia McCann from Belfast
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye © Thursday 8th December 2016 Graduations take place at Queens University in Belfast. Graduations in Nursing
Graduations take place at Queens University in Belfast. Courtney Somerville and her family from Enniskillen
Graduations take place at Queens University in Belfast. Danielle McGurk and her mother Marie from Craigavon
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye © Thursday 8th December 2016 Graduations take place at Queens University in Belfast. Danielle McGurk and her parents Aidan and Marie from Craigavon
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye © Thursday 8th December 2016 Graduations take place at Queens University in Belfast. Claire McKnight from Carryduff with her parents Patricia and Michael.
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye © Thursday 8th December 2016 Graduations take place at Queens University in Belfast. Lisa O'Neill and her sons Christopher and Dillon.
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye © Thursday 8th December 2016 Graduations take place at Queens University in Belfast. Alison Stewart and her family from Belfast
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye © Thursday 8th December 2016 Graduations take place at Queens University in Belfast. Bronagh Agnew, Melessia Donnelly and Anna Cleland
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye © Thursday 8th December 2016 Graduations take place at Queens University in Belfast. Lucy Crossan from Belfast and Ashling McCann from Glenavey
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye © Thursday 8th December 2016 Graduations take place at Queens University in Belfast. Lisa Jane Heaney from Belfast
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye © Thursday 8th December 2016 Graduations take place at Queens University in Belfast. Sarah Harpur from Tyrone with her parents Thomas and Christina
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye © Thursday 8th December 2016 Graduations take place at Queens University in Belfast. Naeve McAllister from Killreagh, Lorenzo Fusco from Itlay and Linda Mawhinney from Magherfelt
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye © Thursday 8th December 2016 Graduations take place at Queens University in Belfast. Laura Smith from Ballymoney tahke a selfie with her fellow Mid-Wives
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye © Thursday 8th December 2016 Graduations take place at Queens University in Belfast. Jordan Shaw from Glengormley and Kevin Hung from Limavady
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye © Thursday 8th December 2016 Graduations take place at Queens University in Belfast. Rosemary Harper from Belfast graduated in Nursing.
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye © Thursday 8th December 2016 Graduations take place at Queens University in Belfast. Amy Dickson from Lurgan, Lucy Crossan Belfast, Rachel Douglas Limavady and Emma Donnelly Desertmartin.
Graduations take place at Queens University in Belfast. Lauren Allen from Ballymena, Sinead Brannigan from Ballymartin, Laurie Armstrong from Bangor and Caoimhe Beggan from Fermanagh
Gemma Thompson from Belfast, Alicia Quinn from Toome and Jacqueline Fitzpatrick from Armagh.
Graduations take place at Queens University in Belfast. Eileen Jameson from Trillick and her daughter Kimberly who graduated in Childhood Studies
Graduations take place at Queens University in Belfast. Sarah-Louise Gilbert from Larne who graduated iin Nursing pictired whith her parents Mark and Sharon Gilbert.
Sarah-Louise Gilbert graduating in nursing with her mum and dad Mark and Sharon Gilbert.
Deborah Jameson from Trillick who graduated in Nursing
Aine Jordan and Tiarna Robinson from Lurgan
International Commissioner of Scouting Ireland Claire McAroe is celebrating as she graduates from Queen’s University with a PhD in Biological Sciences.
Queen’s student Freda McCormick, from Dundonald, graduates with a Doctorate of Education from Queen’s. Committed to caring for older relatives, including her 92-year-old mother-in-law Mary, Freda decided to put her personal experience into practice and in her 40s embarked on the part-time doctoral programme in Education at Queen’s.
Joanne Sansome from Belfast graduates with a Masters in Social Research from Queen’s. She first visited the University a decade ago when she spoke to social work students about her experience of living with Cerebral Palsy since birth. She is joined by her father Dermot.

Should their nails be neatly manicured, too?

This kind of nonsense saddens me because I love my beautiful alma mater.

I spent almost 10 years of my life at Queen's, both as an undergraduate and postgraduate, and my two children were born while I was studying there.

For the university to tell women graduands what to wear as they receive their degrees makes me cringe, in much the same way that I felt when Queen's started using that awful PR slogan 'We are exceptional'.

I wonder who took it upon themselves to issue this ill-considered sartorial advice on the university website.

Whoever it was, they not only need to brush up on basic notions of equality, they also need to update their popular culture references.

The students will know who Kim Kardashian is, but they might need a little help with identifying Grace Kelly.

Queen's needs to remember what century we're living in.

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