This weekend, a high school senior was ejected from her Richmond, Va. high school prom because a bunch of dads sitting in the balcony complained that her dress-code compliant prom gown was stirring up “impure thoughts.”
On Saturday night, Clare Ettinger explains in a post on her sister Hannah Ettinger’s blog, Wine & Marble, she attended the Richmond Homeschool Prom with her boyfriend. The theme was “Twilight in Paris.”
She found a “gorgeous silver, and sparkly” dress after searching at half a dozen stores. The dress code for prom gowns at the homeschool prom was “fingertip-length or longer.” That means you extend your arms down your body and your dress is longer than where your fingertips reach.
“Like a good little homeschooler, I made sure that the dress was fingertip-length,” Ettinger writes. “I even tried it on with my shoes, just to be sure.”
On her way into the prom with her boyfriend by her side, she was stopped by one of the prom organizers, “Mrs. D.”
“Honey, that dress is too short,” Mrs. D said, according to Ettinger.
The senior then reached her arms down her sides to demonstrate that the dress was, in fact, fingertip-length, and Mrs. D let her and her boyfriend pass, but only after reminding her to “make sure it stays pulled down.”
Ettinger says she was feeling fairly diplomatic toward Mrs. D at this point. She adds that she is 5’9″ — “a tall and fairly curvy girl.”
“I want you to know that she is a very short woman, and I assumed that she probably just didn’t understand that when you’re 5’9″ and leggy, everything looks shorter on you,” Ettinger writes.
Inside the ballroom, the tall, blond senior told her friends what happened. They laughed. And then they tried to enjoy the festivities.
“We were also a little grossed out by all the dads on the balcony above the dance floor, ogling and talking amongst themselves,” Ettinger notes.
Pretty soon, Mrs. D approached Ettinger and ordered her off the dance floor “into a corner in the hallway” Along with another woman, Mrs. D explained that “some of the dads who were chaperoning had complained that my dancing was too provocative, and that I was going to cause the young men at the prom to think impure thoughts.”
Ettinger says she and her friends weren’t dancing, actually, but sort of swaying to the music.
Mrs. D once again chastised Ettinger for the length of her dress. Then, the short older lady booted Ettinger and her date out of the prom.
“I will not debate with you about this,” Mrs. D told Ettinger when she tried to protest.
Ettinger did get a $25 refund for her trouble. Her friends who left with her – after security came – did not receive refunds despite a promise from Mrs. D.
“When we walked out of the prom, frustrated and angry and feeling very disrespected and violated, some of the people in my group shouted profanities at the security guards, and I personally flipped them off,” Ettinger writes.
“I felt violated by the sheer number of male parents that were assigned to do nothing for five hours other than watch girls in short dresses and heels dance to upbeat music,” she also observes.
“This story is actually pretty common,” adds Hannah Ettinger in the introduction to the story. “Things like this happened a lot in the homeschool ballroom dance + grassroots theater circles in Richmond.”
Clare Ettinger is a dual enrollee in a local community college and a homeschool high school student. She will start college “on the East Coast” in the fall.