As if picking out a prom dress wasn't stressful enough, some students also have to reckon with sexist ideas of what's considered "appropriate" for their ages or bodies. The latest example of this comes from Jacksonville, Florida, where a school's dress code has gone viral for its characterization of what a "good girl" prom dress looks like.
On Monday, Lily Willingham, a senior at Stanton College Preparatory School, posted a photo on Twitter of a bulletin board featuring four floor-length dresses, First Coast News reported. One (a golden, sleeveless mermaid gown) was designated as appropriate, the other three (a one-shouldered, slitted-skirt style with a torso cutout; a low-backed white ensemble with a tulle hem; and a long burgundy frock with a plunging neckline and side cutouts) were not. Each one featured the headline: "Going To Stanton Prom?" Below each picture, there was a response: "Yes you are, good girl," or "No you're not." From the photo shared on social media, it wasn't clear whether there was an equivalent flyer for male students.
The tone-deaf posters, unsurprisingly, gained a lot of attention on Twitter — and even inspired the hashtag, #SCPGoodGirl, in response to how school administrators described a female student wearing an "appropriate" dress.
By Tuesday morning, Duval County Public Schools, which runs Stanton College Preparatory, issued a statement on the platform.
“[Officials at Stanton College Preparatory] didn’t quite see the issue about it being demeaning to women," Willingham told First Coast News following the school's apology. "So once they did realize that that offended us and that we weren’t okay with that they were like 'Oh wow we didn’t see it that way' and they apologized."
The full response, obtained by Action News Jax, reads: "The display of prom dress photos pertaining to recommended attire at Stanton College Preparatory School is not an approved policy by the school or Duval County Public Schools. The displayed images were immediately removed by school leadership on Monday. Both students and staff have been informed this was not acceptable or appropriate guidance for prom dress attire." The school's principal also reportedly apologized to the student body about the flyers. That day, many students came to school wearing white and purple, as a way to show solidarity with female students, First Coast News noted.
We're really hoping this will be one of the only cringeworthy dress code incidents (because yes, unfortunately, there seem to always be a few situations like this) this prom season.