It is prom season all around the country and it is time for schools to begin policing the bodies of the students who plan to attend. A recent story revealed that Brittany Minder, a Washington teen, was prohibited from attending prom because her breasts were too large and too much cleavage was showing.
While school rules explicitly stated, “strapless dresses are allowed as long as cleavage, midriff and lower back are covered” it appears that these rules were an unfair target to her because of her size. And while her story points to a longer history of body shaming by High school it also revels the problem that prom season creates.
The history of prom is full of ugly classist, racist, and anti-gay traditions that have been reproduced year after year with little protest. And while my story is not intended to poke holes in what many teens call “that one special night,” it does seek to call attention to how high school administration facilitate in reinforcing negative social constructions.
For many teens across the nation, the promise of a fairy tale prom is out of reach for a whole host of reasons. For some adolescences there is no Prince Charming but a Princess Charming, or perhaps certain expectations of what to wear proves far too costly for parents feeling the woe of a shaky economy and finally queer teens who may feel uncomfortable with so much heteronormative activity being celebrated.
High school teachers and administrators are often thrust into the role of chaperone left to monitor young adults for inappropriate dancing, clothing, and other factors that have been deemed risky for young adults to engage in. These rules, however, often mirror an American society so bent on molding teens into their ideal that they often forget that these adolescents are on the cusp of adulthood and should be able to express themselves in ways that they see fit.
As American society, hopefully, begins to evolve into a more inclusive society, many of the archaic rules of prom will be left in the past.