On September 8, a French student named Jeanne sporting a low-cut dress was refused entry to Paris's Orsay museum, whose collections include some of the most famous nudes on the planet. Security agents summoned her to "cover" her cleavage in order to visit the French institution. Her story made waves on social media, but it wasn't the first time that such an incident occurred in a museum.
The 22-year-old student took to Twitter to post a long message about the incident and to condemn the institution's discrimination and sexist attitude towards its visitors.
Her story quickly went viral and Jeanne received thousands of retweets and encouraging messages. The Musée d'Orsay even published an apology on the same network a few hours later.
"Rules are rules"
However, it is not the first time that a woman is stopped at the entrance of a museum by security because of what she is wearing. Roughly two years ago, an Australian influencer named Newsha traveling in Paris was denied entry to the Louvre. Her story sounds a lot like that of Jeanne.
On November 12, 2018, Newsha explained on her Instagram account that a security guard stopped her because of the low-cut mesh black dress she was wearing that day. It was judged as too revealing.
Both women were asked to "cover" their cleavage by two of the biggest French institutions. While Newsha decided not to enter the Louvre, Jeanne put on a jacket to visit Orsay.
"In the museum hallways, I saw women with backless dresses, crop tops and bralettes, but they were skinny and with small breasts......I wonder if the security agents who wanted to prevent me from entering realized how much they sexualized me ...," explains Jeanne in her letter.
To defend their decision, Orsay's security guards simply repeated to Jeanne "rules are rules," even though no sign clearly indicated those rules.
Is sartorial freedom at stake?
Even more surprising, in February 2018, in New York, a young woman was denied entry to a Metropolitan Museum of Art guided tour because she was wearing an 18th century-style dress. Security claimed that they prevented entry to individuals who could potentially disrupt other visitors' experience.
Of course, dictating what women should wear goes beyond the sphere of the museum. In France, two recent movements made waves in high schools -- #BordaRévolte and #Lundi14septembre, to encourage young women to wear what they want.