Overbearing Prom Dress Codes are Sexist

The Authentic Perspective

March 22nd, 2017

Prom season is among us. For many high school seniors, it will be what they believe to be the best night of their lives. Girls have been waiting for this day since they took the high school entrance exam. They cannot wait to pick out the perfect dress-but thanks to overbearing prom dress codes, they probably will not be allowed to wear their dream dress.

Prom dress codes have been in existence since prom began, and with fair reasoning. Girls and boys, alike, should wear formal wear, as it will be a formal event. But as the years progress, the dress codes have become increasingly overbearing and sexist.

Source: Boylan Catholic High School

Recently, Boylan Catholic High School in Rockford, Illinois released a 21 page dress code manual for their students. Immediately, there was an uproar against the dress code. While it is important to notice that it is, in fact, a Catholic high school, and the school may have higher standards than other schools, but has Boylan set their rules too high?

Of the 21 pages, only 2 pages are dedicated to the boys, simply stating that they must wear a suit, jacket, and tie. The rest of the pages are aimed at the girls, stating some pretty strict, and sometimes ridiculous, rules. Dresses cannot have cutouts. No back can be shown. Navels must not be seen. Nude colored dresses that show the illusion of skin are not allowed, despite the fact that actual skin is not showing. Coverups and shawls are not allowed.

The message that this and other prom dress codes are sending is that a girl has to hide her body-even her back! The showing of her back or navel is unnatural and shameful and must be hidden. Even nude colored dresses are not allowed because the nude color is just like the skin, which must be hidden at all costs.

Source: Boylan Catholic High School

But the guys just have to wear a suit and tie. Where are the rules stating how tight their dress shirts can be, if they have to be tucked in, if they have to wear a belt, how long their tie has to be, what types of jackets are and are not allowed, if they are allowed to take off their jacket, or even wear one since it is technically a cover up, etc.

Such strict prom dress codes are a reminder once again to girls that they have to hide their body or be shamed. While there is such a thing as appropriate and inappropriate wear to such a formal event as prom, overbearing and sexist dress codes ruin such an event in the end.  

To read Boylan’s full policy, visit here.


Senior Viewpoints Editor 
Jill Augustine

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