When the temperature reached 80 degrees in her hometown recently, Jana Barrios, 13, dressed accordingly — in shorts and a striped T-shirt — and went to school. What greeted her, though, was unexpected heat from her fellow classmates — girls pelting her with insults such as “Why are you such a slut?” and “Aren’t you showing too much?” The bullying escalated to the point where the phrase “Little Whore” was written on her chair.
When she got home, Jana took a public stand, penning a letter to her bullies that her dad, Miquel Angel Barrios, shared on his Facebook page. The post, from Monday, has since gathered hundreds of likes and comments commending Jana for her powerful words, even receiving local media coverage in their town on the island of Majorca, Spain.
Avui na JANA (13 anys) ens acaba de donar la lliçó de la nostra vida. A vegades penses què els podem deixar al futur i…
“Today, for the mere fact of being a woman and dressing with whatever I like to wear, I have received insults and been deemed a ‘SLUT’ and a ‘WHORE.’ All those comments I described came from WOMEN. And I wonder: Weren’t we the first to wear a purple ribbon last 8 March?” Jana wrote, referring to a symbol of unity worn on International Women’s Day. “Weren’t we the first to defend women? Aren’t we the ones who stand against sexism and fight for real equality? Aren’t we the ones who have fought for a society without differences between the genders? Sexism is not just when a man beats up, rapes or verbally abuses a woman. Sexism is also receiving insults because of the size of your dress and having to be judged for how much skin you are showing, in the opinion of other women.” (The full English translation is at the very bottom of the Facebook post.)
Dad Miquel tells us how proud he is that his youngest child (he also has a 17-year-old son) is taking a stand for what is right and voicing her opinion at such a young age. He also says he is disappointed that women are still tearing down one another.
“When she came home, I was cautious to see how she would react to what had happened,” he says. “But seeing her maturity, her tranquility, her lack of revenge, her calmness in general, I knew the letter was a compilation of all the parenting lessons we try to instill in both our children.”
He continues: “As a parent, all you want is to leave a good inheritance to your children; this lesson she has shown me that what I am leaving both my kids is more valuable than any material wealth.”
Posted by Miquel Àngel Barrios on Monday, July 3, 2017
Jana’s letter is a call to action for women: to stop putting down other women and instead celebrate women’s choices in the true meaning of feminism. She blames the problem on sexism, noting that women should not be criticized for what they choose to wear.
“I have heard thousands of insults and nonsense aimed at women because of the size of their clothes. My clothes are as narrow as your mentality, and if you still cannot accept that women can wear what we want, you can go back to the Stone Age where you seem to have come out from. You are the sexism we are fighting against,” she wrote. “To create a truly equal society, the first ones who should defend each other is ourselves, the women.”
Miquel says Jana is very happy that her letter has resonated with hundreds of people around the globe — from Argentina and Chile to Switzerland and the United States — who have sent her comments of support.
“It’s a simple message: Sexism needs to end, and it can start with normalizing the idea that people are free to dress the way that makes them feel good,” he says.