It’s that time of year again when schools decide to show their true colors: Prom season. Ah, yes, that magical time when schools employ sexist dress codes, body shame their students, and marginalize LGBTQ students.
This year is already proving itself to be just as cringe worthy as years prior, as demonstrated by a Florida teen named Lily Willingham, who shared her school’s prom dress code on Twitter. The school posted flyers with the heading “Going To Stanton Prom?” followed by a photo of a prom dress deemed either appropriate or inappropriate. Inappropriate dresses were paired with the subhead “NO, YOU’RE NOT” while an appropriate dress was given this strange stamp of approval: “YES YOU ARE. GOOD GIRL.”
Good thing they told us a week before prom it's not like everyone has their dress already……. pic.twitter.com/3nOKhSTu4R
— Lily (@LILwillingham) March 27, 2017
There are so many things wrong with this that it’s hard to know where to start. First of all, using the phrase “good girl” is incredibly creepy and condescending. “Good girl” is what you say to a dog who obeys your commands; teen girls shouldn’t be approached with language reserved for an obedient pet. These flyers also suggest that a girl’s goodness is directly correlated with what she’s wearing. This is literally a roundabout way to slut shame the female student body.
Additionally, who actually thinks this is a useful guide to following the dress code on prom night? It’s hard to decipher exactly what goes against the rules. Is it dresses that show midriff that are against the rules or dresses with a slit? Both? Is the last photo discouraging dresses that show side boob or dresses that show cleavage or only dresses that do both at the same time? And as Lily stated in her tweet, if prom is a week away, why wait until the last minute to present the dress code? If this is the school’s idea of a user friendly approach to addressing questions about the dress code at prom, then that’s concerning.
It was heartening, however, to see that a fellow student, Anthony Paul–president of the school’s Student Government Association–was also distressed about the flyers and called them “anti-feminist.” He helped organize a peaceful protest and a hashtag campaign, #SCPGoodGirl, that eventually received the attention of local and national news media.
TWITTER HASHTAG FOR TOMORROW – #SCPGOODGIRL // TOMORROW IS WOMENS DAY – PURPLE AND WHITE COLORS , DUCT TAPE FEMALE GENDER SIGN ON SHIRT
— anthony paul (@anthonyrpaul) March 27, 2017
The school has since distanced itself from the posters and claims that the recommended prom attire was not approved by the school or the school board. It’s great that this public outcry led to the removal of those controversial flyers and it’s important to see what student action can accomplish.
— Neeraja (@neerxjx) March 28, 2017
— Nathan Snow (@Nathan__Snow) March 28, 2017
— Hafsa Quraishi (@hafiisaa) March 27, 2017
If you’re a student, remember that you have more power than you think. But stay alert; we’re still in the early days of prom season, so expect more controversies to pop up as the school year winds down. And remember, if your school pulls a side eye worthy prom dress code stunt, don’t hesitate to speak out.
Do you think prom dress codes are too harsh? Do you think students overreact to these dress codes? Tell us in the comments!