21 Page Prom Dress Code?

It’s that time of year again.

ROCKFORD, IL — An Illinois Catholic high school’s lengthy prom dress code has drawn accusations of body shaming due to its restrictions for girls.


Boylan Catholic High School drew fire after issuing a 21-page prom 2017 dress code focusing on modesty and mainly aimed at girls, stating, “Some girls may wear the same dress, but due to body types, one dress may be acceptable while the other is not.”

I lived through the prom dress code with my daughter, and it was a complete nightmare, mainly because of inconsistencies in the rules. Which brings us to this comment: “Some girls may wear the same dress, but due to body types, one dress may be acceptable while the other is not.”

Right there. That’s the problem. That’s where the charge of body shaming comes in. Because, if that’s the rule, then that’s the rule for all items of clothing – which means certain girls would be banned from wearing jeans. Go ahead and make your rules for skirt length, slits, necklines, etc., but leave the body type comments out of it. Why is that always so hard to do?

And 15 pages of dos and don’ts for girls? (There’s two pages for boys!) That’s overly excessive. It also seems like someone was getting off on putting this together. Click on the link. The dress code manual is posted at the bottom of the post. What jumps out at me with the pages and pages of “acceptable” and “not acceptable” pictures is the amount of dresses that would fall somewhere in between – how one centimeter of fabric or a strap is the difference between acceptable and not acceptable. Why not just have a uniform prom dress – like a burqa!

When my daughter attended prom, if they were concerned their dress would break a rule, they took a picture of themselves wearing the dress and then got it approved. Only problem? Different administrators approved different things, so what was okay for one girl was not okay for another. And yep, girls who had their dresses approved in advance were denied entry in prom when an administrator disapproved of a previously approved dress. Fun times.

Here’s the deal. Stop going to underage girls. Go to their parents, because let’s be honest – it’s the parents buying the clothing 99% of the time. It’s the parents taking the pictures before prom. It’s the parents who see what their child is wearing before they walk out the door for prom. In most cases, a parent has seen the dress well before the event. It should be the parents the school is communicating with – and only the parents. Mainly because these sort of rules make girls without the “perfect” body type feel horrible about themselves. Surely we can avoid this? Maybe start with not saying things like, “Some girls may wear the same dress, but due to body types, one dress may be acceptable while the other is not.” Just make the rules.

This is a private school, so they can make any rule they want, but let’s not pretend that these rules are simply a dress code. There’s a lot more going on here. 21 pages. 21 pages!

4 comments on “21 Page Prom Dress Code?

  1. Lots of parents would welcome the help of reining in the glamour ambitions. But 21 pages? I think these girls should organize a boycott of this dance.

  2. I would have loved the dress code being sent directly to me! The problem parents were running into was… they bought, and approved a dress, and then were told their daughter couldn’t wear it. I swear, sometimes I couldn’t tell the difference between an approved and unapproved dress.

    99.9% of parents were fine with complying with a dress code (they loved it), but it was not enforced equally and consistently. There was so much confusion.

  3. In 1981 I wore a beautiful pantsuit to my prom. They wouldn’t let me in because girls weren’t allowed to wear “slacks”.

    • I want to say, “That’s ridiculous!”, but it’s really just par for the course.

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