As I am scrolling through my Google News Alerts yesterday I am caught and baffled by the story of military wife Laura Carothers a Navy wife living in Hawaii.

Laura's son Zachary in what  was considered workout gear.
Laura’s son Zachary in what was considered workout gear. Image Credit: Laura Carothers

Recently Laura like so many of us went to her local commissary ( at Kaneohe Bay Marine Base) on a whim to pick up some milk. But on this particular day something unusual happened , Laura and her 7 year old son Zach were refused admission into the store. It wasn’t because Laura had on pajama attire , or inappropriate revealing apparel on. In fact it wasn’t even because of Laura or how she was dressed, it was due to her seven year old son’s shorts which were somehow considered ( are you ready for this) …”workout gear”.

Although according to Carothers a regulation is posted in reference to workout gear she had no idea it would apply to kids clothes used for normal play. Laura then took home her son changed his clothes and came back and saw other people at the commissary in work out gear.

According to an article on ArmyTimes:

This is not a commissary rule via DECA. It is a local rule of the base itself.

Commissaries follow the lead of local installation commanders on this issue “by virtue of our status as a tenant on the installation,” DeCA spokesman Kevin Robinson said.

“In fact, all Marines are charged with ‘policing their own’ while in the commissary,” she said. “Mistakes may occur, but that is part of the Marine’s development as, in this case, he or she learns to deal with varying circumstances, such as assessment of adult attire versus that of children.”

A spokeswoman for the base was able to look at the pics and stated the following:

if mother and son were indeed turned away due to his attire in that photo, “it shows a misevaluation on the part of the individual checking clothing at the commissary.”

As for the other military personnel in workout gear, the base spokeswoman says they were in violation of policy too.

My Thoughts

Laura Carothers son after she took him home to change.
Laura Carothers son after she took him home to change. Image Credit: Laura Carothers

Although this seems like a simple misunderstanding it makes one question what would be considered workout gear? Moms wear yoga pants or leggings and as a past resident of Hawaii I know we all wear shorts. And to make matters worse , shorts are kids wear in Hawaii so now mothers have to worry about what type of shorts their kids wear? I totally get the respect factor when it comes to dressing on base because let’s face it there are many situations of inappropriate attire, however where do we draw the line?

It’s hard enough lugging kids to the commissary especially when one parent is deployed , now you have to spend extra time to determine what the right thing for a 7 year old to wear is? The sad part is if you look at the picture Carothers son is simply wearing normal regular shorts as so many other kids that age wear.

What bothers me the most is the kid was right there when they were refused entry and Mrs. Carothers stated via ArmyTimes her son has said:

On occasion when they’ve headed to the commissary for groceries, she said Zach has told her: “ ‘I’m not dressed right, Mommy. I can’t go.’ ”

*Drops the Mic…My heart just broke*

Luckily for us Army peeps (although there are dress codes enforced at installations worldwide) I haven’t heard of this particular situation happening…so far!!


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Krystel is the mom of two and an Army Wife. In addition to Army Wife 101 she is the Co-Founder of a digital media agency that connects brands with the military market. She has appeared on MSNBC ,FOX LA and formerly was a weekly contributor to HLN's "Raising America". She has written for various outlets including Sheknows and Lifetime and is a big fan of cupcakes and french fries.

46 Comments on Military Child and His Mom Refused Entry Into Commissary Because of Kids Attire

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