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.
While I do believe that schools should adhere to a dress code, Clare bought the dress with the dress code in mind. She wasn’t trying to disrespect authority, or cause a scene – she wanted to have a good time with her boyfriend, and feel absolutely fabulous.
Keep in mind, she saved up to buy the dress for six weeks, with her own hard-earned money. Even better, Clare didn’t include full names of those who had wronged her in the post — and both she and her sister strongly discouraged readers from personally taking action against the individuals that had accused her dress of being too sexual. She seems like a genuinely good kid.
Who knows if Clare knew that her blog post would go viral, but it went viral for all of the right reasons. Women need to realize that they shouldn’t get picked apart by how their body looks in clothing, nor should they be judged for the clothing that makes them feel special. “You are a person, with a soul, and with potential and with purpose,” Clare said. “And the way that other people treat you, should never be based on how you dance, or dress or talk. You are a person, I am a person, is it really too much to ask that we be treated like people?”
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