Prom Dress Styles Shouldn’t Be About Body Shaming Girls

Prom dresses are causing controversy all over the country this year. The prom dress police are out in force, banning, suspending, and reprimanding high school girls for their dress choices. Dresses that show just about any amount of skin except for arms and faces are attracting attention from school authorities. They claim that legs, tummies, cleavage, and backs might make for “impure thoughts” when boys see skin at the prom.

Some dads chaperoning at a Richmond, Virginia, high school prom thought that teen Claire Ettinger went too far with her short, sparkly, “hot little thing” of a prom dress. Prom organizer, identified only as “Mrs. D,” told the student to make sure the dress stayed pulled down, warning her that chaperoning dads found the short dress “too provocative.”

Claire ended up leaving the dance with her date and their group of friends.

“The whole situation made me feel violated, walked over, and ostracized. I have long legs, everything looks short on me.”

Claire wasn’t the only prom dress disaster. In Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, senior Alexus Miller-Wigfall found after the fact that the school thought her dress was too revealing. Her mother, Alisha Sneed, had made alterations to the prom dress to make sure there wouldn’t be problems. When Alexus came back to school, school officials gave her a one day suspension

“I couldn’t believe it,” Sneed said. “I don’t see anything wrong with that dress. What do they want her to wear, a turtleneck?”

Sneed has a point. According to Pennlive, the assistant principal let on the problem wasn’t the style of the dress. It was the style of Alexus’ plus size body.

“She said, ‘You have more boobs than other girls,” Alexus said. “‘The other girls have less to show.'”

The school has since lifted the suspension.

In New Jersey, Connecticut, and New York, girls are facing similar problems when they choose their prom dresses.

The Guardian points out that the dress issue is more to do with shaming girls and their sexuality than with proper attire.

“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 supposed to be a wonderful, over the top party; a last blast before launching into adulthood. It’s not the time for wearing t-shirts under a gorgeous new prom dress, or shaming girls whose bodies are bigger, curvier, or taller than others. Maybe some of the guys who can’t control their impulses are the ones who need to make changes.

“I’m not responsible for some perverted 45-year-old dad lusting after me.”

Do high school proms now solely exist to give schools official dispensation to shame girls?

— Jean Edelstein (@jhedelstein) May 13, 2015

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