'Backward Jamaica': Tomlinson reignites dress code debate after touting Rihanna's attire at Barbados ceremonyWednesday, December 01, 2021
KINGSTON, Jamaica - Communications specialist Krystal Tomlinson reignited debate over the island's dress code policy Wednesday as she touted newly-declared Barbados national hero Rihanna's wearing of a sleeveless dress to Monday night's ceremony marking the birth of the eastern Caribbean island as the world's newest republic.
Some Jamaicans, however, have criticised Rihanna's attire at the ceremony, chastising her for dressing “inappropriately”.
The one-shoulder dress featured a choker neckline with a long fringed tassel hanging from the back.
Such a dress would not gain access to several government buildings, schools, public spaces and even the Parliament in Jamaica.
Additionally, sleeveless cover tank-tops and strapless tops, shorts, and skimpy dresses are among styles that are not allowed at many public entities.
“Rihanna was named National Hero designate in a halter back dress. Can you imagine her trying to get through the parking lot in [Jamaica] for this state ceremony?!" tweeted Tomlinson, a former People's National Party (PNP) Youth Organisation president.
"I see the protocol officer wrapping her shoulders in a scarf. BIM (a native or inhabitant of Barbados) is a new level that we are not ready to unlock!" she tweeted.
Tomlinson's views garnered the support of several Twitter users, including that of journalist and attorney-at-law Dionne Jackson-Miller.
"Lmao this is so true. Or she (Rihanna) would have to drape newspaper around her shoulders as some J'can women have done to get into gov't buildings," tweeted Jackson-Miller.
Another Twitter user, Renee Rattray, shared: "They turned me away from the MOE at Caenwood Centre years ago when I was showing up for a meeting to discuss a multi-million dollar project for our youth in - of all things - a black sleeveless dress!!!"
Another female joined the conversation, commenting that, "If no scarf was forthcoming them woulda turn her (Rihanna) back at the gate fi go home go change...... Jamaica backwards in every degree."
@Thatsjustthewa7 tweeted: "Yes, in such things, let us be guided by others. For that, as we now see, is the way to true independence. Maybe some halter back dresses in parliament will help us decouple ourselves from the monarchy."
Last August, Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Olivia Grange, revealed that the Government was working on a dress code policy for work and school that will reflect the principles and values of independent Jamaica.
“Work is already ongoing with Government ministries, departments and agencies to ensure that new guidance issued on grooming and appropriate appearance for work or school does not target specific hair textures and hair styles, race or religion,” Grange said in a statement at the time.
Her statement was in response to social media outrage over a Supreme Court decision in the matter of a young child who was denied access to education at a primary school in St Catherine due to her dreadlocks.
"We must accelerate the finalisation of this new policy. My ministry has been charged by Cabinet to establish a Dress Code Commission which is advanced in its work," Grange said in the August 2020 release.
"A Dress Code Policy will be promulgated very soon to reflect the principles and values of independent Jamaica, promoting respect for our cultural identity and expression; inclusivity and diversity; and will also take into account our other realities, ranging from the economic to the climatic factors," stated the minister.
She added: "The Policy will set the tone for other needed areas of reform, including changes in our legislation."
More than a year later, however, there has been no update on such a policy.