Calif. HS Student Starts Modesty Club in Reaction to Too Much Skin

PHOTO: Saige Hatch, 15, holding the proclamation to enforce "Modesty Week" in the city of South Pasadena on Dec. 5 with members of her high schools Modesty Club.
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High-school freshman Saige Hatch was sick of seeing her peers revealing too much skin when she came to school each day.

The 15-year-old saw midriff-grazing tops, exposed cleavage, short shorts.

"From elementary to middle school, and then to high school, I noticed immodesty," she told ABCNews.com. "I really wanted to start a club to bring awareness to it and bring remembrance to what modesty is."

Inspired by her brother's No Cussing Club, Hatch started the Modesty Club at South Pasadena High School in South Pasadena, Calif., in September to bring attention to her cause.

"A shift is coming, sneaking through the literal fabric of our culture," read a statement on the club's website. "Our bright heroic women are being made the fool. A fool to think that to be loved they must be naked. To be noticed they must be sexualized. To be admired they must be objectified."

While South Pasadena High School has a dress code that requires students to cover the "range of skin from armpit to 'The Bottom Line,'" defined as "a hand's width below the bottom of the buttocks," Hatch is crusading for a more traditional definition.

She said she views immodest dress as showing cleavage, showing one's midriff or one's shoulders. Immodesty also includes shorts, dresses, pants and skirts that are too short or tight, she said.

The Modesty Club only boasts 17 members at school, but Hatch said the website has helped to garner more than 1,000 members who come from all 50 states and 14 countries.

This week, Michael Cacciotti, the mayor of South Pasadena, commended Hatch for her efforts and granted her a proclamation. The city has declared Dec. 3 through the 7 "Modesty Week" in South Pasadena.

Cacciotti had granted her brother a similar proclamation when he started his own club.

"People are afraid to stand up," Hatch said. "I know there are a lot of people who wanted to start it, but sometimes it's hard to stand up and take the courage to start a club."

But Brent Hatch, Saige's father, said he was hesitant to let his daughter start the club after he saw what his son went through. When Saige's brother, McKay, started the No Cussing Club in 2009, it spurred thousands of hate messages.

"During the death threats and the bomb threats and the packages and the calls and all the chaos, my daughter said to me when she was in the fifth grade that she wanted to start a modesty club," said Hatch, who co-authored "Raising a G-Rated Family in an X-Rated World," with his wife, Phelecia. "I laughed and said it's not going to happen, especially with what McKay's going through.

"I said, 'You're going to get made fun of at school for going against the grain,'" he said. "My son, I could handle. But my daughter, I didn't know what was going to happen."

Saige was persistent, and ultimately her father caved.

He's finding that even though she has support, the mocking has returned.

"My van was egged, people graffitied on it," he said. "We had people call our house making threats again."

Saige said that as she moves forward with the club, she plans to put together an online petition to members of the film and magazine industries for more modest attire.

She has plans to write to clothing designers to make more modest clothing for women, in general, and to arrange to have a vote in school to enforce the dress code or switch to uniforms, she said.

But her biggest inspiration remains her brother.

"I want to make a change in the world, like he did," she said.

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