Millennial Mom Wearing A Cardigan & Jeans Gets ‘Dress Coded’ By A Librarian At A Story Time

She was told that her midriff was showing and, therefore, it was an inappropriate outfit.

Young woman indoors at home in the morning choosing clothes to wear. Ground Picture / Shutterstock

A mom revealed that she was dress-coded in the most unexpected place for wearing what she believed was an entirely normal outfit. In a TikTok video, Hilary Flips, a stay-at-home mother of two, shared that she was confronted while at the library with her kids.

She was dress-coded for wearing a cardigan and jeans by the librarian during storytime.

"I just got dress-coded at our local library at baby storytime, and this is what happened," Flips began at the start of her video while showing off the simple outfit that she'd worn — a slightly cropped sweater from the teenage section of Target, light wash mom jeans, and a shirt underneath her cardigan.


Nothing about her outfit screamed inappropriate. Flips pointed out that she felt relatively confident about the entire look, especially since it was a step up from her usual attire of leggings, a sweatshirt, and a T-shirt. 



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While at the library, she was running after her kids and feeling a bit stressed because of how rowdy they were being. After storytime, the librarian approached Flips and asked if she was the parent or the babysitter. After saying she was the mother, the librarian tsked at her and claimed that she "should know better."

"I immediately start apologizing for my girls' behavior. I'm like, 'I'm so sorry. You know, it's really hard for them to sit still,'" Flips recalled, thinking the librarian was upset because of how much noise her daughters had caused. However, that's not what the librarian meant at all.

She told Flips that her daughters weren't the issue but rather her outfit. Confused, Flips questioned if she'd forgotten to button up her cardigan properly or if she had a stain that she couldn't see, but the librarian insisted that it was because her cardigan was cropped.

She claimed that whenever she carried her daughter, her cardigan would lift up an inch, and her stomach would be exposed, including her stretched-out belly button from having been pregnant. According to the librarian, such an outfit was incredibly inappropriate, and she shouldn't be showing even an inch of skin. 


"Apparently, that's inappropriate to show any midriff when you're edging 40," Flips said. "And news flash, I disagree."

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This incident serves as an example of the greater issue — policing women's bodies.

It's bad enough that dress codes exist for young girls in public schools; it now seems moms and grown women have to worry about how other people perceive the clothes they wear in public. Flips's outfit was far from revealing or inappropriate for a casual outing to the library with her children. 



The librarian seemed to advise Flips to cover up her stomach because of her age, serving an outdated notion that once a woman ages, they should dress more conservatively for the sake of others. This belief not only limits a woman's freedom and ability to express herself but also reinforces the harmful and exhausting double standards that exist in our society for women.


Since when did it matter if a mother wore a cropped sweater, making just an inch of her skin visible whenever she lifted her arms? If anything, why was the librarian so focused on someone else's attire instead of reading stories to the children who had shown up? There should be respect for women of all ages, and they should be allowed to wear whatever they like without fear of criticism and judgment.

"If this were to happen again to someone else, someone else in a more tender, sensitive mental health state, whether it's postpartum depression, anxiety, generalized body image issues, or just having a rough day ... that might have been the straw that really breaks the camel's back," Flips said in a follow-up video. "And we don't wanna break any mama camel's backs."



Thankfully, the library took measures to rectify the situation and apologize for the librarian's actions. 

"The library sent me a note apologizing for any distress the situation might have caused and assuring me … that they will use this as a teaching moment for their staff so it will not happen again to someone else who might be in that sensitive state," Flips revealed.


Given that her initial video received over 1.5 million views, Flips took a moment to use her platform to urge others to act with kindness, empathy, and grace — all things the librarian lacked.

"If there's nothing nice to say, don't say it," she advised. "But let's find some nice things to say to each other."

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Nia Tipton is a Chicago-based entertainment, news, and lifestyle writer whose work delves into modern-day issues and experiences.