News Flash: This Dress Did Not Cause Impure ThoughtsKaren Belz

When I was in high school, my biggest fear was getting into trouble. (In fact, I still have those fears. It probably explains my anxiety diagnosis.) However – if there were more teenagers out there like 17-year-old Clare, I think I’d realize that no matter how old I was, my voice was still important.

Clare was tossed from her prom in Richmond, VA after a few chaperones had some complaints about her dress. According to Clare, the dress code (stated prior to arrival) said that dresses had to be finger-length or longer. I’m sure you’re familiar with “finger length” — it means that your clothing needs to cover the area at your fingertips, with your arms straight down to your sides. While Clare’s beautiful dress fit the bill, she was still hassled upon entry.

Based on the pictures, it wasn’t low cut or offensive whatsoever, yet she was singled out from the rest of the attendees. Clare claimed that her height may have made the dress appear shorter than it was, despite doing the “finger test” for the prom coordinators (and in the picture below).

prom-dress-kicked-out-clare

Clare didn’t get to stay for long — pretty soon into the night, she noticed a few male chaperones ogling the girls from the balcony above, and was quickly rushed off the dance floor by two women who were helping organize the event.

“[They] told me that some of the dads who were chaperoning had complained that my dancing was too provocative, and that I was going to cause the young men at the prom to think impure thoughts. At this point I said to her that I hadn’t been dancing at all! Much less seductively, and that even if I had been being inappropriate, they should issue a warning instead of just kicking me out,” she said in a guest blog entry on her sister’s website.

While Clare admitted that some of her actions against the staff were probably in poor form (but who hasn’t flipped the bird in a moment of anger?) she tried her best to accommodate the staff’s requests during the night. Her friends joined her in protest, but didn’t get their tickets refunded like they were verbally promised.

In short, a night she was looking forward to for a long time was ruined, based on the fact that she was attracting attention from older men. These older men shouldn’t be looking at a 17-year-old this way at all. If she was at the beach, should she leave because her bathing suit was causing others to have “impure thoughts?” I didn’t think so.

“I was told that the way I dressed and moved my body was causing men to think inappropriately about me, implying that it is my responsibility to control other people’s thoughts and drives,” Clare wrote. And it’s true – she’s definitely not responsible for other people’s feelings. The event was for teenagers to dance, socialize, and look amazing doing it, and not for men to gawk at, humiliate, and chastise young women for the way they presented themselves. Clare is wise beyond her years, and the coordinators for the Richmond Homeschool Prom should be embarrassed by the way they handled the event.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=616616279 Jake Kottke

    wow crazy what people will go through to mess someone over

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001272510081 Rahul Chetia

    this world is too unfair. people tend to b more cheap then b wise. its not humanly to judge a person by there appearance

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=505821671 Candice M Lazecky

    If I was her mother I would make it my life’s mission to seek out those predators-in-dads-clothing! They should have been removed from the school and asked not to return. If anything, the school should be penalized for allowing these adults to stay on school property instead of protecting the students in their care.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=46901672 Lauren Nicole

    Good for her. If I were 17 and in the same situation as this young lady I don’t know that I would have articulated my disgust with as much grace and poise and she did. Bravo for being the bigger person and bringing this situation to the forefront of the internet.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=5735185 Kyle Breckenridge

    http://calliehobbs.wordpress.com/2014/05/14/dads-are-not-the-problem/
    Most things in life are a matter of perspective. I’m guessing that everything Clare wrote explains exactly how she felt about everything that happened and she has every right to feel that way. However, I think it would be good for everyone to read that article before they make any assumptions.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=175400465 Megan Snyder

      I, too, just read the blog that Kyle linked to, and I’d like to point out that the girl who wrote it probably wasn’t standing right next to Clare and the chaperons when they were discussing this. She has no clue what was said to Clare or what the Dad’s may have said.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=710356639 Kevin Dennison

    I just read the article Kyle linked to, and it’s hard to take much away from it other than frustration once you get to the comments section. Some of the comments there were infuriating lol.

    Take this doozy from one Brian Webb as an example. He states: “I don’t rape women, cat call women, or objectify women who choose to dress scantly. I appreciate women who do not choose to dress scantly because it makes my job of not objectifying them significantly easier. I’ll do my absolute best to never objectify a woman regardless of what she’s wearing, but you can’t for a second tell me that a woman wearing lingerie isn’t easier to objectify than a woman wearing a tasteful dress […] I just think that, to a certain extent, it is reasonable to expect people to be aware of the way they dress and the way it effects other people.”

    That’s complete, and utter, BS. Not to mention contradictory, bordering nonsensical, on all accounts. At no point in time is it EVER a woman’s or man’s responsibility, regardless of their age, body type, clothing choice, etc. to express or present themselves so that others will not objectify them. Placing any responsibility, whatsoever, even just a tiny bit, on somebody to make your job of not objectifying them “easier” is ridiculous.

    It seriously boggles my mind that some people still think that it is ANYONE’S responsibility to dress so that they are not seen as some sort of a sex toy… that’s all on you as an individual. Blaming others for, or expecting them to be considerate of, your ability to control your own actions, thoughts or desires, is absurd.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=17801143 Mels Lien

      Men like that are the reason I sharpen my fangs every morning.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1134752004 Ryan Delbridge

      An issue here though is that there are girls who dress up specifically to go out and act like someone’s sex toy. The word used most often is skank.
      Two different girls can wear the same dress for completely different reasons. The first girl might wear it because she thinks it makes her look good. That’s fine, good on her. The other girl might wear it because she can go out and pick up in it. It happens. I have a friend with a pickup dress. She wears it when she wants to (surprise!) pick up.
      People can wear what they want, no doubt. But when the motivation behind the choice is not given, who knows what their goal was.
      Let’s take an alternate scenario here. What if, instead of the parents complaining, what if they told the chaperons that she looked good. That would be bad. What if it was the boys at the prom? Is that bad too? And the girls?
      There are so many contradictions to how people think these days that any one thing can be misconstrued so easily.
      Does this apply to parents too? Is it okay for a Mum/Dad to tell their daughter (or son) that what they’re wearing is not appropriate?

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=801520437 Patrick Walberg

        Clare was dressed very modestly in my opinion. The dress was not short, nor inappropriate by what I’ve seen of prom dresses.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003750276687 Ha Justi

    Prom is overrated. Quit going to the prom if you can’t adhere to rules or like to be difficult, idiots.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1489219482 Shea King

    If these older men are having impure thoughts about a 17 year old girl then THEY should be kicked out, not her. OBVIOUSLY they’ve got some pedophile issues to work through and shouldn’t be around ANY 17 year old girls.

    DUH

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100008190674316 Alison Clemency

    I so perfectly agree: that older men shouldn’t be looking at younger girls like this. my step father did this to me as an adult and mind you I was out of the house FASTER than you can imagine. I think this is how grown men feel they can “mask” the fact that they were looking and thinking that way.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003249046679 Mariah Sandberg

    I’m 17, from Virginia, and I attended this prom last weekend too.
    What she said about the dads couldn’t be further from the truth. There was no “ogling” of any sort- I know some of the dads that were chaperoning this event and they’re very nice, patient, non-crass men. Also, some moms were also on the balcony- it wasn’t just dads.
    An honest person I know said that she did see Clare dancing provocatively, contrary to what she claims. (which probably wasn’t very inappropriate but she chose to attend a homeschool prom) Also that her dress came up to far when she moved around. (Which makes perfect sense if it’s barely long enough pulled down while she’s standing up straight). Also, every prom has a dress code or code of conduct. This homeschool prom was just more conservative than most and they didn’t have every detail of “appropriateness” spelled out on the one-page sign up sheet.
    No, it’s not Clare’s job to keep people from lusting after her. Definitely not in any way. But she does have to accept that the people who were running the prom didn’t think she was a good fit for the conservative atmosphere. A dress code can be enforced for the comfort of the attendees as much as anything else! Some of my friends who came to that prom are very conservative and also have conservative parents.. It’s a homeschool prom. Clare knew the kind of people that would be there. Conservative people want a prom that they can send their kids to with a level of comfort! Should the directors have been more specific about being about to kick members out for reasons other than dresses being too short? Yeah, sure! But Clare has had a problem with “patriarchy” for a lot longer than this past weekend and she frequently updates her social media with articles on it. In my opinion, people see what they look for. I agree that it’s not her job to dress according to other people’s standards. That is, when she’s not at someone else’s event. It’s really unfortunate she had such an awful night when she didn’t expect her dress to be a problem, but that was because of a lack of clarity; not because of a controlling patriarchy.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=538422451 Chad Chisholm

      Thank you for leaving this account. I think people are too quick to latch onto some story on social media. The truth is often more complicated than the buzz on the internet, and sometimes it bears no resemblance to people’s conceptions drawn from social media.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=801520437 Patrick Walberg

      I am so glad that you were there. Clare’s date was African American, correct? Were there other interracial couples there? From what I understand, Clare was “warned” about her dress when she and her date first arrived. I want to know how many other interracial couples were there, because there too many contridictions for the “story” to be true.

      You say that Clare was getting attention from dads, but Callie Hobbs said she was there too, and that there were NO Dads oggling Clare at all! She claimed that Clare made that up, but Clare could not have because it was excuse told to her by the adult female usher. So which was it? The adult men were there to do a job as ushers, security and tech support. The adult men are NOT there to oggle the teenagers. Therefore, it is the adult men that should be getting the warnings for raping these girls in their minds. We don’t really know what these adult people were thinking.

      You say that Clare was dancing provocatively, while some other students who were witnesses said that she barely stepped on to the dance floor before being kicked out. So which is it? Teenagers are bound to have there smart phones out recording video, right? So where is the video of this dancing?

      My theroy is that this being Richmond, some of the adults were not comfortable with an interracial couple at the prom. That is why I asked you that first question. It would make sense then that the adults in power could manipulate this couple by making Clare the scape goat for their cloudy excuses. They can’t get in his face and be obvious about their racism, as that would get those adults slapped with a Civil Lawsuit in a heartbeat! With all the contridictions and unclear stories, I doubt we shall ever know what the adults in charge were really thinking. I feel badly for the teenagers in this because they really are not to blame. At the least, it is the judgemental adults who are to blame. At worst, it is the racist adults who are to blame.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=34302059 Charley Marie Cooper

    The finger test is one of the dumbest ways to measure because it further subjects you to the way your body is made. I have a very short torso with long legs and arms. My arms are significantly longer and therefore many girls could wear MUCH shorter shorts based on their build. It makes more sense to say “number of inches above the knee.” It’s just plain stupidity.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=688988757 Al Martin

    You all are idiots. If I hold a steak in front of a dog, am I surprised when the dog wants to eat it? How about a fishing lure in front of a fish? One of the reasons women dress in heels, dresses, do their make up, and do their hair, is because it attracts men’s attention. Men are biologically programmed to take physical cues and rate a woman on her quality and potential for mating. Men get an endorphin kick every time they look at a beautiful women. It’s science. Don’t like it? The world doesn’t care, that is the way it is.

    So for all the woman out there, if you wear seductive clothing, you can expect most men, to notice. Anything else is absolutely ridiculous.

    So in a room full of hormone filled teenagers, the parents may want to limit the attractiveness of the children, so they don’t make extremely poor decisions, get saddled with adult responsibilities before they have had the chance to find out who they are, what they want to become, and who to best spend their life with.

    Ohhh… those horrible parents.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1503271233 Brianna Ramos

      Are you serious? That’s the point of having chaperones, they’re there to make sure the kids have fun, but not do anything stupid. At the very least, she should have been given at least one warning prior to being removed from the event.

      P.S. If I were you (thankfully I’m not), I’d be more careful about the use of the logic you’re throwing around there. After all, you should have been prepared for that mugger, you left your house in that nice car and walked down the street with your new phone and $5 latte. You were practically advertising that you had extra money to recover just fine.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=688988757 Al Martin

        Hi Brianna,

        I can’t figure out if you are with me or against me here… Yes that is the purpose of the chaperones.

        Yes, that is the point about the mugging. If you were to walk down a bad neighborhood, showing obvious signs of affluence you can expect your chances of getting mugged to increase.

        If you were to dress in a very seductive manner, you can reasonably expect to have more male attention, and if you were to walk through a seedy area of town at night, in an area where rapes had occurred before, you would be increasing the likelihood of violent sexual assault to occur.

        If you drive distracted by texting, singing, listening to loud music, talking with friends in the car, you decrease your ability to identify and plan for potential accidents on the road. Therefore you increase your likelihood of getting in an accident.

        In other words, just because you don’t think some things should be a certain way, doesn’t mean that they will not be. IT’s a nice thought, but bad people don’t respect your fairy tale. It’s part of how they got to be bad people.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=668045810 Molly Ploughman

      I stopped reading after you noted, in typical misogynistic forum, that woman dress up, put on make up and do their hair to attract attention from men.. But as a woman who certainly has far more knowledge in the area of getting dolled-up than you do, I’d like to let you know that we do it for our damn selves. I wear make up and dresses because it makes me feel good about myself. Not because I feel attractive, or that maybe men and women are looking at me in a different light– but because I look good and therefore feel good. As for looking “seductive”, if I’m dressing sexily its because I feel sexy– not because I want you to think I am worthy of having sex with. The moment you start thinking that a woman changes her appearance for your sake is when you start assuming they owe you something. We do it for ourselves and ourselves only. We owe you nothing; respect is earned.

      “Don’t like it? The world doesn’t care, that is the way it is.”

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=688988757 Al Martin

        Molly, don’t read what you want, read what it says. “One of the reasons women dress in heels…” It doesn’t say “the only reason is” or “the most important reason is”… And my statement, while it may not apply to you, does apply to many other women. Many women chose clothing to attract attention.

        But in typical, no thinking fashion, you found one thing to disagree with and stopped reading or thinking after you misunderstood something that confirmed your suspicion.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000840726375 William Taylor

    Omg!!! Really who’s in high school here the parents or the kids . i honestly cant tell at this point given your actions . ok first off by the action of the adults pulling her away sounds like it was just out of pure jealousy. they dont want their husbands looking else where because their not satisfied with their own bodies . if you have a problem with it dont take it out on the kid take it up with the men . second if you think for second your high school boy isnt already having impure thoughts your sorely mistaken. FYI one girl in a dress isnt going to make or break them i promise. Where was the prom held in a monistary. third by this action alone your not only judging others for how they raise their kids but your setting her up for life of hypersenitive self ridicule by telling her that the way she looks when she is at her best is wrong . You should be ashamed of your selves for what you did to her and for the example you set for your own kids by telling them they have to look a certain way to be scene out side . News flash if they dont know by now what is decent then maybe you need to look in the mirror . set the example by being the example not by making an example of some one elses kid .

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=538422451 Chad Chisholm

    (1). I’m not sure it is fair to judge and chastise the decision of the chaperones based on one photograph that the girl herself took and might have digitally altered; (2) I’m not sure I’m ready to take her word at face value because teenagers are capable of lying when it suits their purposes (shocking, that); (3) She admits some of her behavior was not exemplary at the prom (and to answer the author’s question, I have never “flipped the bird” in a moment of anger because I have always thought it a puerile thing to do); (4) You have to give discretion to school officials and chaperons if you expect these proms to stay respectful and not turn into something more like those notorious scenes from the Caligula movie; (5) While I agree that all human beings have to practice self-restraint and cannot use their lack thereof as an excuse for bad behavior, I reject the contention that underlies both hers and the author’s claim that young women can dress and act however they want and “not [be] responsible for other people’s feelings”; (5a) first of all, it is a double and selective standard: if I showed up wearing a t-shirt depicting naked women at a feminist rally or donned a ballcap that said “God hates fags” at Gene Robinson’s church, I doubt anyone would say that I was “not responsible for other people’s feelings” at those venues; (5b) also, aren’t we being hypocritical (and perhaps putting girls in more danger than they would otherwise be) if we as a society repine over the sexualization of women, the violence from seeing women as sexual objects, etc., and then tell women they can celebrate their sexuality in any way that might encourage men to treat them in the very way that is to be to their detriment?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=8002796 Soraya W.

    Wow after reading the first 3 comments I had to stop out of disgust. First, no grown man should be looking at a young girl in that manner. Second, her dress was appropriate. Third, if you teach young men and women that it is the woman’s fault you are justifying the ideal that just because a woman dresses a certain way she is asking to be raped. It’s the same argument with different pieces of the puzzle. It’s all backwards. And any woman who felt so insecure about one 17 year olds dress because their husbands complained that’ve a bigger issue to deal with…. A husband who looks at children. I am disgusted that theseafts could not use common sense and ruined what every high school girl looks forward to her whole life. Shame on all of you!

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=538422451 Chad Chisholm

      You didn’t read one of the comments below from someone who was there at the prom as a student, and who contradicted this girl’s claims.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000600376455 Bruce J Fustin

    i think the men are assholes and if there dirty minds think like that they should have been dismissed from the prom. The older men must have been there to look at such sites for their morbid selves that is why they are assholes.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1050300019 Chelsea Underwood

    1) that dress is ugly (no offense to Claire) 2) It goes way past the finger test, however, she isn’t wearing shoes/heels. 3) If men think she’s dressed inappropriately and are thinking dirty thoughts that is THEIR problem. It’s THEIR minds that are going to the dirty place. Lots of men are pigs!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100006819874463 Alex J. Anderson

    I keep hearing the same comments and arguments from women, and I gotta say, you women live in a dream world. You can think the world is a certain way all you want but it won’t make it so. Many of you seem to lack sufficient knowledge of history, science, biology, anthropology etc. Women used to marry very young. The fact that laws, cultures, hearts and minds have changed recently in the last 100 years or so, doesn’t mean human biology will follow suit. Until older woman produce healthier babies than young woman, men will always find younger women more attractive. And by younger, I mean the first years of fertility. That includes girls in high school. Women absolutely hate this truth and lash out at men, or deny that it exists. They hate it because younger, is the one thing a woman can never be. I can assure you, I’ve never met a man that didn’t like young women. It’s an unspoken truth. It’s talked about among men but never with women. And I’m not talking about filthy crude pigs. I, as well as my friends are good, kind, respectful men that love their wives / girlfriends. We don’t cheat, we work hard, we’re responsible and caring. We’re not monsters. But that doesn’t change the 100,000 + years of biology telling us to plant a baby in a ripe teenager. Also this crap about women not dressing up to impress men is utter B.S. I believe that YOU believe you’re dressing up for yourself. But it’s simply not true. You don’t think it as you dress, but it’s instinctual. Beauty is power and status, and a means to find the most successful man, and that desire is so deeply ingrained in your psyche that it’s not a conscious thought. Girls essentially practice being desireable to men from the age of 6 or 7. If you think you’re doing it so you can “feel good about yourself” you’re delusional. Why does it make you “feel good” to dress up? Cus you’re programmed to want to dress up. Also, you can say that dressing scantily shouldn’t be an issue, or an invitation, but it kind of is. It in no way justifies untoward behaviour, but it will certainly bring it. You can all huff and puff all you want but it’s true. The best we can do as men, is try and not look. The best we can do as women is dress sensibly, and the best we can do as parents is is teach our daughters that they don’t need to dress slutty to attract guys, and to develop their intellect and spirit because beauty will fade. But honestly, as a guy, I get just as turned on by a girl showing almost no skin than I am attracted to a girl wearing next to nothing. In fact I’m usually more attracted to an intelligent girl conservatively dressed. Seeing a girl in a library reading a book? I want to take her right there in the victorian literature section. I’m just as turned on by womens minds as I am their bodies. To conclude, you can deny these truths, but they are truths.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=519289420 Andrew Rawlings

      I know men who are attracted to older women. Of course they also don’t want to have children so your ‘fertility’ theory might be correct. Still, saying ALL men are attracted to younger women is false, at least in my experience.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=616965867 Sherlock Rhodes

      You are a disgusting “person”.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1220101970 Marissa Leece

      That’s a total load of crap! It has been scientifically proven that the healthiest age for both the mother and the baby is 30.5!! If you are attracted to 12 year old girls you are a pedofile and you have serious issues. Stop blaming biology for your perverted thoughts. It leads to victim blame!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1305695426 Shelby Hannah-More

    I bet that the male chaperones were the female chaperones’ husbands. They were jealous that their man was looking at a younger woman so they blamed her. It happens all of the time. Honestly, if your man is ogling a younger attractive woman, either he is disinterested in you because 1) you let yourself go or 2) he is a perverted jerk. It is not always the other woman’s fault. You know, just because you got the man of your dreams does not mean that you can just stop trying to be attractive. And by attractive, I don’t mean just physically. Life is short and just because you get what you want at last does not mean you get to stop trying and working for it. You have to keep working for the rest of your life to make yourself happy. Life is hard. There are no breaks or re-dos in life. Life is not a video game where if you mess up a level you can go back to the save point or start over. Life doesn’t stop for anyone. Life keeps going. You just have to make the best out of what is given to you. Claire deserves to go to prom and socialize like every other girl. Prom is a special time for teenage girls. Her dress is in regulation of the dress code so they shouldn’t have been allowed to kick her out. Those were adults acting like children! I know high school never ends, but if adults expect the younger generations to be more mature and act like adults, then they have to as well! I’m tired of all the hypocrisy of adult life! Give Claire back her special moment! Adults should act like adults, and teenagers should be allowed to act like teenagers, not forced to grow up while they are still legally minors. If parents really want their teenagers to act like adults before they are 18, then how about we start a petition to lower the age limit from 18 to 14? Why not since high school is around the age they tell kids to “grow up”? They aren’t expected to act like adults until they are 18. Why is reality not the way it’s supposed to be?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1557120011 Jordan Borrowman

    So. If I have a gun in hand, not loaded and with no intention of shooting anything or anyone, and wander out in public like no big deal, people shouldn’t panic and call the police, right?

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