When did we start living in a real life version of Footloose? Will “dirty dancing” be banned next? Surely there are better ways to prepare young people for their post-high school life than shaming them for daring to look young and fit.
A high school in Connecticut for example, has banned all strapless dresses, dresses with halter tops, spaghetti straps, lace, or dresses found to be too short. Basically anything short of a potato sack is a no-no. As a compromise, Shelton High School has suggested that the girls wear t-shirts underneath their dresses - because nothing says black-tie formal like a GAP capsleeve underneath a ballgown.
Students in new Jersey have similarly been informed that students wearing attire deemed too revealing will be removed from prom - without refund. Schools are actually offering “prom packets” that will outline appropriate clothing choices. And one young woman in Pennsylvania was actually suspended for her choice of dress - a gorgeous floor length red dress with full sleeves. So why the punishment? According to student Alexus Miller-Wigfall, the assistant principal told her, “You have more boobs than other girls. The other girls have less to show.” Our educators in action!
As is the case with most dress codes, scandalized school administrations are reserving their ire for the female students - there is curiously no code about how much skin male prom-goers can show. And like most puritanical nonsense directed at young women these days - the concern is not for the girls, but for the lust their dresses might inspire in others.
When a young Virginia teen was kicked out of her prom last year, for example, it was because fathers at the dance felt her dress was causing “impure thoughts.” (Modest proposal: How about disgusting dads stop ogling teenagers?) Like Miller-Wigfall in Pennsylvania, the young woman felt she was targeted because of her body type. “I am so tired of people who abuse their power to make women feel violated and ashamed because she has an ass, or has breasts, or has long legs,” she wrote on her sister’s blog at the time.
The same thing happened when students at New York’s Stuyvesant High School protested their discriminatory dress code: one student told The New York Times that administrators were disproportionately punishing young women with “more curvy” body types.
The truth is that schools aren’t worried about “proper attire” - if they were, no one would be suggesting t-shirts as a reasonable alternative to a strapless gown. They’re worried about young women’s sexuality and any display of said sexuality. It’s a last grasp at sexism before young women head off into the world as adults.
Prom is a rite of passage that is supposed to be a bit risque - who cares if the outfits are too? The only thing shameful about a “revealing” dress is the adult who can’t stop obsessing over it.