I’m Too Sexy For This Prom?

Alexus Miller-Wigfall was given one day of in-school suspension for wearing a prom dress that was “too revealing” based on the school dress code.  Before we get into this, let’s play a quick game of “Which girl got in trouble”

Harrisburg dress is fine3 Harrisburg dress is fine4 Harribburg prom dress
Harrisburg dress is fine5
Harrisburn dress is fine

The girl in the red dress is Alexus, the one who was suspended. The girls in the other pictures when to the same prom with no problems. To be very clear, I think all the dresses are fabulous, and I have absolutely no problem with any of the dresses (and I think it’s super cool that they do this “red carpet” with the community cheering for the kids and taking pictures, but that’s beside the point.) My point is that this seems pretty arbitrary at best.  So what is the difference?  According to Alexus, the assistant principal told her, “You have more boobs than other girls. The other girls have less to show.” (I’m sure that conversation was completely necessary and not awkward at all... careful not to step in all the sarcasm.)

The school eventually dropped the suspension – though they have refused to clarify their position or explain their decision –  but it brings to light (again) a completely messed up idea wherein fat women are told at the same time that our being fat makes it impossible to be sexy, and that our being fat makes us too sexy. Either way, we are told that we have an obligation to cover up our bodies – to hide them from a world that seems to think that we should never leave our homes, stay behind closed blinds. ordering exorbitantly expensive clothes online and paying shipping (and return shipping when we can’t guess based on a size 6 model whether or not we’ll like the way something looks on our size 26 bodies.) This is not ok. If a school is going to have a dress code, then that policy should apply to students across the board, regardless of size (and I recommend checking out this post for a great discussion of the issues with school dress codes.) Our bodies are nothing to be ashamed of, and neither are our clothing choices – there’s nothing wrong with how much skin you choose to show, or not show, any time, at whatever size you are.

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29 thoughts on “I’m Too Sexy For This Prom?

  1. Psst … you’ve linked the thumbnail for Alexus’ dress to the larger image of the next photo in the series.

    I’m glad they dropped the suspension, because that is some bullshit. Her dress is one of the more conservative dresses there!

  2. What makes me laugh is that these claims to be “preparing kids for the real world” fall flat on their face the moment you examine them for even a second.

    So, what does that mean? Are they trying to prepare kids for the world of business, where they’ll need to dress in suits and smart clothes for some jobs? Because I can tell you right now most *formal* offices care less about the length of the skirt than whether someone is wearing an actual suit, and that the more smartly/well dressed members of the more formal offices I’ve worked at tend to opt for rather tight-fitting dresses paired with fitted jackets and no one thinks they aren’t dressing professionally. But sure, if you think kids need to be taught how to dress, then why not just bite the bullet and give them an actual uniform of skirt/trousers, shirt and blazer?

    Oh, no? You’re not trying to get the kids into suits? So what, then? You’re trying to prepare them for the “real world” in a way that overwhelmingly involves controlling women for… Oh. Oh, I see. So when you say “real world”, what you actually mean is you’re trying to prepare the young women for living in a world where You and People Like You will sexualise them and objectify them and project motives and desires and behaviours onto them based on how their clothing choices make *you* feel, and you want these young women to be appropriately trained to act deferentially towards that.

    It is really, REALLY telling how often the dress code violations (and non-violations, since larger/curvier women are often held to completely different standards) boil down to “you were distracting the male students/male teachers”. In other words, someone overheard a couple of significantly older men saying something gross about one of the young women under their care, and rather than acting to protect the young women from men who apparently *should not be working with teenage girls* they foist responsibility for that onto the girls themselves.

    Because admitting that the principle and the English teacher and Jenny’s dad are gross and borderline inappropriate about the kids in their care is way harder than just teaching girls that what makes the difference between slutty/modest bad/good whore/virgin isn’t what choices they make, but whether or not a random bystander happens to get an erection in their presence.

    1. Apparently I have A Lot of Thoughts About This.

      This is all reminding me of the time I was 15, and opened the door of the house early one Sunday morning when the next door neighbour – a man my mum’s age – knocked to return something he borrowed. It was really early in the morning, and he’d interrupted my bath, so I opened the door with a hurriedly-wrapped dressing gown around me and a towel holding my hair back.

      And he thought it was *really important* that he let me know I shouldn’t open the door dressed like that because *he* was finding the sight of my cleavage and legs something of a turn-on.

      And then the time when I was 14 and the head teacher pulled all the girls in school into a special after-school meeting in the gym, to inform us that pencil skirts were not permitted as part of the uniform (this was in the UK where uniforms are pretty much universal in schools – the dress requirements were black trousers or skirt or pinafore dress, white shirt, school tie and black blazer or jumper). She specifically felt it was important to specify that pencil skirts were not appropriate because “none of you have the figure to wear one anyway”. Apparently the pleated skirts that often turned out to be too short for rapidly-growing legs, which blew up in the wind and which were fetishized by creepy older men, were way more “appropriate”.

  3. Glad you posted this! I have this problem at my work, I wear undershirts almost all the way to my neck and leggings under my knee length or very nearly knee length dresses. I regularly get criticism for my “boobs hanging out” and showing too much leg. However, someone else who works upstairs wears miniskirts and plunging necklines, but she is thin, so no one says anything.

    1. Louisa,

      Please take a look (if you haven’t already) at my post below, “On May 4, 2015 at 11:44 pm kimmaryelizabeth1 said:”. You’ll find the exact same prejudice. ANNOYING!

  4. I hadn’t seen photos of the other prom-goers, but was sickly certain many of them would show both more skin and “more boob” (what kind of principal thinks it’s okay to throw slang words at a student anyway?).

    I suppose they were offended that she dared to show up with a date and looking beautiful just like all the other girls, not looking sufficiently penitent.

  5. This happened in a neighboring district to mine, and it is funny because our local paper covers all the proms and does a slide show of the kids as they are entering, and I love looking at the dresses (as a high school teacher and someone who has attended prom almost every year for the past 13 years, I could probably write a book about 2000’s prom fashion). Anyway, I remember seeing Alexus’ dress and thinking she was about my size and wondering where she got it because I thought it was stunning.

    If you read the back story on this, apparently the school has a policy where girls are supposed to get their dresses approved my admin (disgusting practice in and of itself – do the boys have to get their tuxes approved?) Her dress at first was even more low cut and they did not approve it, so she took it and had a mesh panel added to the top, and that was approved. But then she and her mom decided they didn’t like that look, so they took it to get it altered again and had the mesh removed and had the deep V altered so it was’t as low cut. Reportedly Alexus and her mom also sent pictures of this alteration but never heard anything back so she just wore it to prom.

    My take on all this, working in education and having done some administration work, is that it was more about her not complying to a rule that shouldn’t exist in the first place and the admin trying to save face. It screamed of power struggle to me.

  6. I’ve been seeing a lot of stories in the news lately about girls and violations of dress codes. In pretty much every single one of them, the girl is question is wearing something I can’t see any problem with and another girl who didn’t get into trouble for her clothes is wearing something more revealing (though usually to my eyes still perfectly reasonable). Where boys’ dress codes seem to be mainly a matter of keep your pants up; wear a shirt that doesn’t say anything grossly offensive; and don’t wear known gang symbols, girls are (surprise, surprise!) held to both a higher and a far less easily defined standard.

    When I was in high school in the late seventies, the dress code was simple, well-defined, and (I felt) easy to follow. We couldn’t wear pajamas, we needed to cover any part of the body that we’d get arrested for revealing in the streets, we couldn’t wear anything with a swear word on it, and we had to keep our underwear under our outerwear. Oh, and boys couldn’t wear skirts. They did have to stick to pants.

    I think about the only way a girl would have gotten into trouble for her prom dress would have been if she showed up topless.

    But the idea that a formal gown with long sleeves is more revealing than all those strapless ones,,, give me a damn break!

    It isn’t about decency. It’s all about keeping girls off balance, in their place, and aware that the definition of inappropriate on a girl is the reaction of the penis attached to the man looking at her in that moment.

  7. It’s the color. Red makes perverts horny. Didn’t you know? Doesn’t everybody know that? Forget that it’s beautiful and so is she. How dare that big beautiful girl wear RED!?

    1. I just snorted tea up my nose!… LOL.. thanks for this giggle. And here I thought it was green that was the offending color.

        1. Orange? Whorish? To heck with THAT noise. I’m an SF Giants fan. We have Orange Fridays. I wear lipstick by the name of 24K Orange. Orangen’t you glad we have Ragen’s Forum? 🙂

          1. I sure am.

            As for the color, there was one woman who hated another woman (on the show), and whatever color the hated woman was wearing that day was automatically labeled as “whorish,” unless the hater happened to be wearing the same color.

            Besides, I heard that “Orange is the New Black.”

  8. /sarcasm alert

    And if she had brought Oreo cookies to the prom she’d be in even worse trouble.

    I think she looks very lovely. And totally prom- appropriate.

    1. And it really strikes me that her date looks very happy and proud — he clearly thinks she’s beautiful (she is). I really like the way he’s coordinated his outfit, even his shoes, to match her dress. Maybe that’s just what young gentlemen do for the prom these days — I wouldn’t know, I’m completely out of that loop — but in any case, I think they make a very lovely couple.

  9. Thanks for images of the other dresses. I hadn’t seen them. It is obvious that there is something else going on with the school’s power play. Her dress is stunning and covers more than some of the other girls’. But they are all still perfectly acceptable dresses. The argument that her breasts are too big is odd as there are other girls in the picture who appear to be the same size as her. The only way to know for sure is to have them share their sizes and that would be super creepy if the school required that information. And a girls body breast size should not be discussed by the administration – that is full on creepy. The school obviously was trying to prove something.

  10. Remember the (I think they were Lane Bryant/Cacique) ads where the beautiful, voluptuous woman wears the beautiful, lace, underwire plunge bra? Remember how she looks at her phone’s text, which comedy writers superimposed as saying “THE MC-RIB IS BACK?” Remember how that commercial got pulled promptly off the air? Remember the beautiful, voluptuous model telling us out here in fat land that TPTB told her, “It was too much flesh.”? That was awhile ago.

    Now remember February’s 2015 Super Bowl? Remember THOSE ads? Remember THOSE lacy, plunge bras? Remember THOSE (relatively smaller) women? Oh wait, those were *Victoria’s Secret* ads. Conclusion: boobiage is only tasteful and all-American if fits within a specified cup size.

  11. Wow, schools have gotten WAY strict with dress codes since I was in school. We pretty much had just five rules that were enforced – no bandanas (this was to ensure no one was trying to sport “gang colors” and also was around the time that it became popular to sport certain bandana colors to show what you were “into” ..sexually. Pretty gross and I can see the reason for the banning of them. Rule two was don’t show any “private bits” or wear anything you’d be arrested for wearing in the street. Rule three – no bare midriff. Rule four was no offensive language or graphics on the clothes (“offensive” was always up to the judgment of the principle). And rule five (and, sadly this one was only really enforced for the girls) was all shorts and skirts needed to be at least 3 inches past the fingertips.

    The last rule (three inches past the fingertips) was one that caused the most trouble and was most unfair. There were a few girls in my senior class with really long legs and arms and a few with really short arms and legs. Many of the girls with really long arms were told to go home and change the shirts or shorts that were even longer than some of the other girls shorts that were given a pass. It was a really dumb rule and meant that really the length of your arm (and not the length of your skirt/short) was was what mattered. Pretty stupid.

    And again, it was the girls that were always stopped by teachers and coaches and given the “length” test. I never once saw anyone stop a male in my school to enforce the rule, regardless of how short their shorts were. We even had a couple of goth guys who would occasionally wear skirts to school and they weren’t, as far as I know, ever stopped and told to hold their arms to their sides to endure their skirts were long enough.

    1. I had some crap-awful experiences in school, but I have to say that the dress code was in theory pretty decent (pun intended). No cuss words or nasty images or phrases, no hangy-downy-butt jeans on boys (it was that time), no dangly earrings in gym class, no exposed swimsuit areas, and–this was the best part–students were expected to use a large mirror at home to make sure that squatting, sitting, bending over, etc., did not expose more than they intended. Boys too; nobody wanted to see up their shorts.

      Didn’t stop the one principal (or was he VP that year?) who walked right past the couple sucking face without citing them for PDAs because they were proto-Goths and the boy was rumored to carry a jackknife (oooo scary), but publicly humiliated a meek, demure girl whose sweater showed a quarter inch of skin at the midriff. She was pushing six feet tall and this was back in the days of paper catalogs. It was probably the best fit she could find!

    2. The fingertip rule really is the most fair though, if there is going to be one. Unless you want to flat out say knee length? Because if you say a specific inseam length, then girls with long legs will get away with visually much shorter skirts and shorts than girls with nor Al or short legs. I’m short, if I had to have a three inch inseam it would be halfway to my knees, but I know plenty of girls that that would be practically obscenely short. Yes, there are going to be some girls that fall outside of the box proportion wise. Me, I have short legs (as I said already) and long arms, which means I had to wear Bermuda shorts if I wanted to wear shorts at all. But in general, proportions are the best, most fair way to ensure kids are dressed appropriately, and their ass is covered.

  12. why would a dress code have to be enforced at PROM. it not like they are having a CLASS to distract others from. I can’t see why it would matter if a girl showed up in a string bikini!

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