It’s Prom Time – Let’s Shame Fat Girls

Amy took great pains to make her prom night special in a way that worked for her – she got a dress that she loved, she had her hair done, she did her make-up.  It was her dream night.  Well, only if you think that crying in the bathroom, being repeatedly body shamed by a teacher, and then spending the rest of the night wearing the vice principal’s jacket over her dress is a “dream.”  What the hell happened?

If you guessed “inappropriate policing of girl’s bodies, with a special emphasis on girls who aren’t thin” you win the prize.  And the prize is to see this bullshit for what it is.

Dress codes can be really problematic, especially when they suggest that girls are responsible for the distractions/attractions/ actions of men, and enforcement policies that suggest that policing how girls look and what they wear, including removing them from their educational environment, in an effort to provide boys with a “distraction free” environment are misguided and problematic on a number of levels, including reinforcing rape culture.   For this post, I’m going to focus on the issues that happen when dress codes are enforced in sizeist ways, through the lens of Amy’s prom night.

This story has been surrounded by some confusion because when it first went viral, it was accompanied by a picture of Amy from a photoshoot that she did prior to Prom. In that photoshoot there was a lace panel in the front of her dress that wasn’t there at the prom (her parents said in a statement that it broke.) Here is the original story as told by Tiffany Taylor, a parent of one of Amy’s friends, on Facebook:

This is Bronte’s friend, Amy. Last Friday night was her senior prom. She spent time looking for the perfect dress, got her hair done and was meticulous in putting her make up on. It’s an exciting time! She proudly had her pictures made, and why wouldn’t she? She looks like a princess! Arriving at the prom, she was stopped at the door. She would not be allowed in because her dress was “too revealing”. After spending some time in the restroom crying, she was told she could go in if she wore the vice principal’s tux jacket, which mind you, did not cover her chest. She was told by a teacher repeatedly “Us big girls gotta cover up”. This young girl was SHAMED for having breasts. Her excitement during this memorable time of her life turned into embarrassment at the hands of adults who are supposed to be leading her. SHAME on YOU, Maryville. I think you look amazing, Amy. ❤️

Classmates responded, discussing the dress as Amy wore it on prom night (and not as it was pictured in her photoshoot.)

Couldn’t have said it better myself. My own dress had quite a few cut outs in the back, yet that wasn’t too much. I saw other girls with dresses lower cut and yet they weren’t called out. I was disappointed in how it was handled for sure. Love you Amy.

and

My dress had an open back almost all the way down to my hips, and not ONE teacher said a word to me. One of them even COMPLIMENTED me! And with my hair in an updo and no jacket to cover it, I was let in without hassle. I seriously hope you get justice for this Amy. Your dress was definitely one of the classier ones compared to the thigh-high slits and sheer tops

I have seen a number of “reasons” why people think this should be ok and I want to address them one by one.

Her dress was more revealing than is shown in this picture, they had every right to ask her to cover up.

While the picture that accompanied the original story showed the dress with an extra piece of lace, according to accounts from her own classmates, her dress was not more revealing than the dresses of other girls. Further, they school didn’t tell her that she was violating a specific dress code rule. In fact, a teacher kept highlighting the fact that it wasn’t about her dress, but about her body, by telling her “Us big girls gotta cover up.”  I don’t know about you, but I remember hoping to get a corsage on prom night, not some teacher’s internalized body image issues.

No girls should dress like this!

Setting aside that nobody making this comment is the boss of how all girls dress, the point here is that some girls dressed like this with no problem or push back, while Amy was forced to wear some dude’s tux jacket (which, as Tiffany pointed out did not cover the “offending” area.)

That shouldn’t have happened because [she’s beautiful, she’s not that fat, she looks great in that dress.]

It doesn’t matter if someone doesn’t think she’s beautiful, or thinks that she isn’t “that fat” (and that being “that fat” is a bad thing,) or if they hate the way she looks in that dress. That’s not the issue here. Even if you believe in dress codes, the idea is not that they enforce girls approximating the stereotype of beauty, or being “attractive” based on any definition. So either the dress is appropriate for everyone, or not appropriate for anyone.

You may remember this happening last year to Alexus Miller-Wigfall who was given a of in-school suspension for wearing a prom dress that was “too revealing” based on the school dress code. (You read that right, the school thought that the best way to “punish” her for what she wore to an extra-curricular activity was to remove her from the classroom.)

You can check out the pictures below and see for yourself:

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Published in: on April 30, 2016 at 7:34 am  Comments (19)  

19 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. god i hated high school and many of the teachers involved in high school education.. this dress is LOVELY; she’s LOVELY… nothing revealing about it at all. this was bona fide fat shaming. THEY should be ashamed

  2. That is a gorgeous dress, and a beautiful gal. I wore a halter dress with my double D figure (because I was so body conscious and hated to have my curves obvious) I would have loved to be confident enough to wear a dress like that. Shame on the school for treating her so poorly.

  3. I reposted this the other day on facebook after I saw it on the local news-I live not far from where this happened. Facebook was pretty damn supportive, but sadly many comments in local coverage were less kind. Sure, supportive of this girl, but at the expense of shaming OTHER girls or the entire generation.As in “she looks beautiful, so much more classy than some of the other hoochies walking around these days” or whatever. Yes, people in east Tennessee still say hoochie. There was also a hate rocket launched at the school and administrators. I sort of hate that the “fat shaming” hashtag was thrown at this, when I think the bigger issue is just that some adults who work in the school system are insensitive and judgmental prudes.

  4. That girl looks like a fucking princess!

  5. 1- I agree with everything you said.

    2 – If the excuse of forcing her to cover up was to prevent the boys from being “distracted” from their studies, why did they do this at a dance, where no studying was being done, anyway?

    3 – I’ve already edited this three times, but basically, why do they body shame girls, on the basis that they “distract” the boys from their studies, but they don’t shame the boys, who are just as distracting in various ways, such as T-shirts with offensive writing on them (bikini inspector? Please!), or cat-calling, or the like. It’s all so sexist, as well as sizist, and frankly, it’s infuriating. The fact that they didn’t even enforce the sexism and sizism equally for all the girls at the dance just makes it even worse, somehow.

    4 – Who wants to bet that this same story will pop up again next prom season?

  6. I’ve seen other stories about buxom girls being shamed for the same style being worn by girls with smaller chests. Or who were just thinner generally. The blonde girl in the black dress is certainly showing more cleavage, but is clearly thinner.

    Any one who claims this isn’t related to Amy’s size is a lying idiot.

    In any case, girls and women should never be shamed for how they dress.

    Why does nobody speak about teaching boys self-control? Or possibly stop teaching them they should have no self-control.

    I mean seriously, would boys and men act badly if they weren’t constantly taught that they should?

    • I don’t think they’re being taught that they “should” act badly. More that they’re being taught that they can get away with it, and blame the victims, at the same time.

      It boggles my mind that people will say “Men can’t control themselves around a beautiful woman,” and then turn around and say that men, alone, should be leaders, and women should not, because men are more “rational” and “in control,” and “powerful,” and women are none of the above. It’s almost always the same people who say both.

      And when their “rational, in control, powerful” men behave badly, they say, “Boys will be boys,” and “she was asking for it.” They’ll admit that the guy shouldn’t have done it, but then immediately go to “what did she THINK would happen?” territory, because the guys shouldn’t do it, but it’s practically a given (in these people’s minds) that, given the opportunity, they will. And “we shouldn’t go to hard on them, and destroy their lives just because of a bit of youthful hijinks!”

      This “boys will be boys” thing really angers me. A lot.

      • Society teaches them they ‘should’. Maybe I am wrong, but I don’t think all societies have men that ‘can’t control’ themselves around women. Not even the ones with minimal clothing.

  7. She looks completely and utterly gorgeous. I’m struggling to see how anyone would take issue with this dress. ???

  8. This world is so messed up!

  9. I would really like to see what the dress looked like without the lace panel in it. That could make a huge difference.

    • A missing piece of lace would mean it was okay to body shame a teenage girl and make her spend prom crying in a bathroom?

      • This!

    • If you look closely at the first image, the only lace that could have failed in an area a tux jacket wouldn’t cover is a small triangle directly overlying Amy’s cleavage. There would have been another inch or two of cleavage showing, but no significant increase in breast revealed and no danger of “wardrobe malfunction”.

      She would have been showing far less boob than the previous year’s student shown in the second picture.

      • And if that area was the only problem, then why not just stuff a handkerchief, or even a bit of tissue into the offending area. It’s actually an age-old “life hack” that women have been using for as long as there has been fashion and cleavage. Even Jane Austen’s characters talk about their lace lining slipping, so you know they used it, too. A jacket that is probably too small, and even if it fit, the cut would not allow it to cover the cleavage is NOT The answer. It’s just shaming the girl, by making it blatantly obvious what they thought about her, and her choice in clothes.

        However, a well-folded bit of tissue, tucked under the surrounding cloth, to form a sort of “dickie” effect and cover the cleavage would have been quick, simple, and only mildly embarrassing. A handkerchief would be better. You could pin it, or even staple it (always staple from the inside out! A “life hack” I’ve used to good effect on several occasions) The teacher could have told the girl that it’s important to check the décolletage, when trying on clothes, especially clothes you’re going to move around a lot in. Dancing shifts things around, and a top that looks fine standing still in the store might give some unexpected “slips,” when you’re dancing and jumping, and such. But if you mail-order or buy online, that may not be an option, so the quick fix is invaluable.

        This is why I will NEVER wear a tube-top. I saw that blooper, decades ago, of a woman all excited when she was called up for “The Price is Right,” and wound up flashing the entire audience. They covered it for the TV, but the whole audience saw that top go down. Straps! Straps are vital to a big-bosomed woman!

        A quick fix, plus a bit of education about planning for the future, would have been the best fix, even in the most prudish of schools. And if the school administrators actually think that a woman’s cleavage is her own business, as long as she’s not actually breaking any public indecency laws, and that the men and boys there have the responsibility to control their own reactions and behaviors, they could have 1) not bothered her in the first place, or 2) suggested the idea of a quick fix, should SHE become uncomfortable in the case of clothes-slippage after some vigorous dancing.

        Because schools are supposed to be about education, after all, and teaching their students “life hacks” is part of it, IMO. After all, she’s young, and might not have had time to learn about slippage, yet. Education would be good, but do it quietly, and with the idea that she should be prepared for herself and her own comfort.

        Also, what prom organizers don’t have a sewing kit handy? Really, sewing kit, safety pins, and some duct tape are just basic parts of the party-planner’s equipment. Ask any wedding organizer.

  10. This makes me angry. She is beautiful!

  11. Amy, you look beautiful. The “offending area” wasn’t, IMHO. You’ve got great cleavage!

    • THIS. She should only have to cover her cleavage if SHE feels uncomfortable.

      It’s not against the law to have cleavage. Heck, you see more than that every day on day time AND prime time TV.

  12. “Us big girls gotta cover up”

    Oh yeah? Why?

    I’d like to hear the teacher who made this statement explain it to me.

    Amy, I’m sorry those clowns brought you to tears. You are quite the stunning vision there. I hope you will see that the small-minded people are best ignored. They have little joy in their lives and live to make others sad. Don’t let them hurt your spirit!


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