I remember very clearly the day that Mr. Daniel Dean made it known that he would implementing a dress code at Gilbert High School for our prom. I remember it so very clearly because every girl in the school was outraged. The dress code did now allow for plunging necklines, low backs, thigh high splits or a bare midriff.
I remember we were all angry and nervous about trying to find a dress that was in style, fashionable, cute and yes whether we wanted to admit it or not, we wanted to look attractive. Every dress would be personally approved by the administration so students were told ahead of time to not purchase a dress without it being approved. Although the anger died down eventually, some girls went ahead and bought dresses without approval and then there were girls turned away at the door for breaking the dress code, looking back on the dress code, I get it.
Over the weekend, discussions have erupted all across social media regarding the prom dress code at Mingo Central High School with students and parents citing issues like racism and sexism for reasons to not have a dress code or to have a more relaxed one. Students and parents have went to WOWK-TV news and stated their case that because there is no county wide dress code, there shouldn’t be one at MCHS either. Now, the Mingo County BOE is investigating the dress code which could take up to 10 days.
While I am definitely a support of dressing the way you want and wearing what makes you feel good, this struck me as a little odd. While clothing, which includes prom dresses, is a means of self expression, the lack of respect for authority is amazing to me.
We hated our dress code at Gilbert High School. We talked and joked among ourselves about boycotting prom and renting out different venues but at the end of the day, we all went to Clarices bridal shop and ordered a gown that we knew would fit within the dress code, showed up at prom and had the times of our lives. I like to think that this is because we all knew and understand that as students, we were not the bosses of the administration. I like to thank that we realized our opinions didn’t matter because it wasn’t us or our parents running the school. We had a principal, who whether we liked it or agreed with it had a strong regard for all things modest and he made the rules.
I never spoke with Mr.Dean as to why he made the dress code that he did but I imagine it was because he wanted his students to be safe and respectful. While we now live in a society that promotes dress codes as sexist, I can’t help but wonder how many dress codes have kept women safe from assault or embarrassment from a wardrobe malfunction a la Janet Jackson. While I may not ever know the full reason for his implemented dress code, I know one thing is for certain — it did not affect the amazing time I had at my senior prom. We were seniors, ready to graduate and while dressing up and getting your nails and hair done is fabulous, it pales in comparison is spending the night dancing with your closest friends.
If there is one thing I have learned about growing up it’s that you will always have a boss and you will always have someone telling you what you can or cannot do and unfortunately, that is just life. Dress codes follow you everywhere from the office, to work parties, to future weddings and black tie events and even clubs now have dress codes that will not allow guests to enter without complying. Learning to follow a dress code that you may not even agree with, in my opinion, is a great starting life lesson for teenagers and young adults because in a generation that feels employers should allow social media time during work hours, it is important to teach the upcoming adults just who exactly is the boss.
Madalin Sammons is a reporter for the Gilbert Times. Madalin can be reached at [email protected] or by phone at 304-664-8225.