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).


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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  • Emily Suzanne Buttermore

    omg, how about this men, control your fucking thoughts and stop allowing yourself to indulge in every fucking perverted thing you think, ok? you heard about fat shaming? well im pervert shaming, control your fucking self, white buffalo calf maiden. look it up. those who indulge solely in pleasure contribute nothing to human man or woman kind, respect. grow up, paradigm shift

  • Lindsay Holifield

    Hey all,

    One way you can help is by giving to Clare’s college fund, which was set up by her sister Hännah.

  • Lindsay Holifield

    Hey all, one way you can help Clare is by giving to her college fund set up by her sister Hännah:

  • Mariah Sandberg

    The men didn’t Say “You’re sexy so get out.” That’s not the issue! Do you realize that there are very many girls at a prom? Many meaning hundreds. Clare is pretty yes, but she didn’t kicked out just because she was pretty! And the men also didn’t say “We’re thinking inappropriate thoughts about you, but we can’t help it, so you need to leave.” In fact, what Clare was told was 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.” Honestly that implies nothing negative towards the dads. It was their job for the night to pick out the people who they didn’t believe were up to the standard. What could be argued is the reasoning behind kicking her out- No, it’s not her job to keep people from ‘thinking impure thoughts,’ but it did happen to be the job of the chaperons to do so. You can argue the morality or the rationality behind that viewpoint, but that is the point that Clare was trying to make in her “F**k the Patriarchy” post. She doesn’t believe she should have to take responsibility for people lusting after her, which is fine. But she does have to follow the rules to a prom she’s voluntarily attending. The dress *was* below her fingers… As long as she didn’t move anywhere. And how could you possibly stay still at a prom? That would suck as much as getting kicked out.

  • Kaitlyn Griffith

    I didn’t dance because half the dancing at my prom looked like sex acts and none of those girls got in trouble but this one got in trouble at her prom? Those guys should be ashamed of themselves… This is a memory many girls look back on and they can repair that no matter what they do. It may seem like a stupid dance to some but its still a nice memory to have and no one deserves a fantastic memory being ruined like that for no good reason beside perverts and prudes. Prom was a fantastic time for me to enjoy a fancy dinner, the giving nature of all my friends and family, and introducing my boyfriend to the best people I know and enjoying every second of it. If someone had ruined that for me I would have a hard time forgiving him. Sorry for the rant guys, but even I m fairly conservative when it comes to dress code stuff, don’t go to prom dressed as a slut, but this girl was by no means dressed inappropriately and deserved to have a nice night.

  • Carolina Cornejo
    • Patrick Walberg

      Carolina, you clearly see that there are contridictions to Callie’s story. First she mentions that history class was covering the Civil War through World War II … that is very interesting because that does bring about thoughts of the end of slavery as we knew it then, and the fight for Civil rights for blacks, women, gays and other minorities that is still a struggle today. Why did she bring up “history” especially that of the Civil War when it should have nothing to do with this prom.

      But oh yeah … she wanted to mention “yellow journalism” … well I happen to know a thing or to about journalism having been a writer and photographer for 3 decades. The days of Walter Cronkite standards of dignity and checking facts before releasing information are long over. There are more stories today online that are exaggerated, fabricated and out right lies than there ever were. That is why I call her own viewpoint into question. I could more readily accept what she has to say if Callie were to distinguish between what are her opinions vs. facts.

      Callie also said that going to the prom is a “privilege” but I completely disagree with her. I see it as something more of a right of passage that comes with a cost. This couple PAID money to go to the prom. If having the money to afford to go to the prom means it is a privilege, then so be it. Most certainly her date and friends should be reimbursed for their prom tickets too,

      So Callie also mentioned that the men were not oggling over Clare’s appearance. Her dress was within standard with the exception that Clare was warned at the door that she needed to make sure her dress did not ride up and to pull it down if that happened. I believe Callie when she says men were not oggling Clare, but then why would a female usher find it necessary to pull Clare off the floor and kick her out in the first place.

      LAME EXCUSE NUMBER ONE! The nerve of those adults in charge to claim that her dress was inappropriate. Not only was her dress within the requirements of length, but it looked pretty conservative to me.

      LAME EXCUSE NUMBER TWO! The nerve of those adults to kick her out because “dads were oggling” her! Then give those dads warnings. They are there as ushers, and to work technical stuff like lights and sound, but they are not there to enjoy themselves.

      LAME EXCUSE NUMBER THREE! The nerve of those adults accusing Clare of dancing in a provocative manner! Then where are the videos of this? We all know that teenagers have smart cellphones and there are many videos of dancing posted. You mean this girl was dancing in a manner that is worthy of getting her kicked out? Let’s see the video so that we can judge. Oh wait! There is no video, so that means no one else can judge. How very convenient for the adults in charge.

      So now that I know that Clare and her date were an interracial couple, I would really like to know if there were any other interracial couples there that night at the prom. My theroy is they wanted her and her date out of there, but could not confront him for fear of a civil rights violation lawsuit. Making lame excuses about her was their method of doing this. They knew if they kicked her out, her date would follow. I really would like to have my theory proven wrong, because racism is so ugly, however I know that it still exists today.

      Please somebody who was at this prom tell me that there were many other interracial couples there. That this really is about perverted old men who can’t keep their eyes from raping a teen girl in their mind. Or that the adult women ushers were jealous or a bunch of prudes with their minds in the Victorian age. I get tired of racism raising it’s ugly head only to be swept under the rug while people deflect with lame ass excuses.. Are we ever going to get the truth?

  • Patrick Walberg

    It’s racism. Only no secret tapes were made. Her dress was conservative and well within school rules. She barely had time to dance. They warned her the moment she walked in the door with her date. When I mentioned on another forum that the real reason why she was harassed was this…/IMG_20140510_185847… everyone went quiet … because those ‘adults” are not saying what was really on their mind when she walked in with her date.

    • Patrick Walberg

      Old men might have been staring at her, but it was not because she was dress in a provocative manner. She did not dance suggestively, as she barely had a chance to dance even. She is not way more stunning than any of the many other girls her age that were there. The racist adults there in the South no better than to get into the face of her date … a young black man. So they come up with this lame excuse that is not even true. If only someone was able to record the conversations that started when this young couple walked in, then we’d have proof that the real reason she was asked to leave was because her date would have to leave with her. They don’t take kindly to interracial couples in the South to this day. I know that the story the adults told her was for their own protection from a lawsuit, but if the truth be known, I think I am correct about the passive racism.

      • Patrick Walberg

        They was targeted immediately when she came in the door with her date, a young black man. SHE was first warned at the door before coming into the dance. Her dress was more conservative than other girls there, and not only did she not get the chance to dance before she was asked to leave. SHE NEVER said anything about “dads oggling her” in fact, she did not notice that at all. I sure wish we have a recording, because then I could prove to you that they were really talking about her date, and how they don’t approve of interraciial couples. It’s impossible to prove what people are thinking, but I’m pretty darn sure I am correct on this. Although I cannot prove it was a form of passive racism (he had to leave with her) but I bet there is no way to prove that it was about her dress. That is just a lame excuse.

        • Patrick Walberg

          In all honesty, I would rather be wrong about my theory. However, I had to say what was on my mind, because I’m a man who looks white and I have many friends of many ethnicities …, I have seen first hand how passive racism works. The only way to refute my allegation is to show me that there were other interracial couples at this dance. Specifically attractive white girls with young black men. If my theory of why she was asked to leave is wrong, then there having been other interracial couples at the prom would disprove my theroy. Is there anyone from that prom that can either confirm or deny this? Please, someone reply to this because no one else seems to even want to talk about this possibility.

          • Patrick Walberg

            In all honesty, I would rather be wrong about my theory. However, I had to say what was on my mind, because I’m a man who looks white and I have many friends of many ethnicities …, I have seen first hand how passive racism works. The only way to refute my allegation is to show me that there were other interracial couples at this dance. Specifically attractive white girls with young black men. If my theory of why she was asked to leave is wrong, then there having been other interracial couples at the prom would disprove my theroy. Is there anyone from that prom that can either confirm or deny this? Please, someone reply to this because no one else seems to even want to talk about this possibility.

  • Christina Hernandez

    Interesting, those are the same type of people who blame the victims in cases of sexual assault. When are we going to stop violating the victims when they are being/have been violated.

  • Jennifer Gray
  • Holly Sickinger

    This sounds a lot like the opera Susannah, where the town elders spy on the title character bathing in a creek, and blame her for their impure thoughts. She becomes the scapegoat and ruin her life. Horrible story, but some great music.

  • Deanna Lozano

    In response to the comment regarding younger women being more attractive because of biology. Although what you say about women’s history and how we are more fertile when we are young of and blah blah blah, by bringing up this fact you are insinuating that all women are good for is breeding. Men have no right WHATSOEVER to blame us for their own sexual thoughts. We do not place those thoughts in your head. We do not exist purely for the convenience of men’s sexual desires. “I’ve never met a man that didn’t like young women” so are you saying that it was okay for these FATHERS chaperoning this dance to stare sexually at this 17 year old girl? THAT right there is what wrong with society. Telling the girl to “cover up and stop causing such thoughts” than to tell people that women are not pieces of meat to drool over. And why do you think these 6 or 7 year old girls practice to be, how did you say “desirable”? It’s because people like you tell women that we are nothing – worthless without our sexual appeal. You say that a woman studying in the library is way more attractive to you and that you would take her on the spot. As for your taking that girl in the library, the only thing you’re truly saying is that you want something from her – sex. Because that’s the only thing we are good for right?

  • Jenn’ Vincent

    I just feel so angry, and disappointed when I read comments from people who are basically saying women should just do everything to not cause troublesome thoughts to men, because that’s how things should work! Women just adapting their lifestyle to not bother some close-minded individual should not still be happening today! Whatever it’s “biological” or “historical”, “political”, “cultural” or whatever! Things are changing. And they’ve been changing for a while now (and for good reasons). Even if it’s recent, women are now equal to men, as we always should have been. In modern culture, we are no longer getting married super young. We do not belongs anymore to our parents until marriage. We can be independent, and stand for ourselves. We do not need men to take care of us and reign over our lives.
    I’m ok there is a certain dress code, some rules to respect, specially for children and teenagers. There is still limits to respect when you’re growing up about the way you act or dress, but that girl obviously did respect that, so what’s the matter? Should we just wear ugly big bags to cover-up all our body and make it unattractive to keep men comfortable? They were doing that before. Like few centuries ago…

    We are totally free to feel and to be sexy if we want to. We don’t have to explain it, and we don’t have to fight for it. We should not have to. Again and again. You feel attracted by other women than your wife/girlfriend? Younger girl? So what? Just keep your thoughts and your eyes in your freaking pocket, as everyone with a minimum of manners would do. Did you ever think that maybe women could feel the same way too? We are also attracted by other men. Sometimes they have also very revealing clothes on. Sometimes they are younger, sometimes they are older. And guess what? We may have “impure thoughts”, but we will not stare at them or call them off the street. Because they are free to do what they want. And if they feel better, and more confident dressing the way they are, so what? Why should I bother them? I don’t like what they’re doing/ wearing, so what? That’s only my opinion! We are not responsible for what other people are thinking, and we should not have to take care of that! That’s their problem. If we had to care of it, everyone would be in severe troubles right now and since decades!!

    So for all the grumpy, conservative, bothering people who are desperately trying to make other people think like themselves and act like themselves: Just let us do what the hell we want to do as long as we just respect the rules!

  • 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?

  • 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?

  • 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.

    • 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!

    • Sherlock Rhodes

      You are a disgusting “person”.

    • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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!

    • 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.

  • 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?

  • 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 .

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