Choosing an Appropriate Dress for Prom
Spring is in the air, and that can only mean one thing: prom. Millions of teenage girls across the country are leafing through magazines in search of the perfect prom dress, but are they going too far with some of their selections? More and more young girls are going from store to store trying to mimic the risqué looks of Britney Spears and Jennifer Lopez, while checkbook-toting moms are going from store to store, begging their girls to do the "proper" thing and remember to cover everything that needs to be covered. But wait? Aren't we the parents? Shouldn't we be telling our daughters what they're going to wear instead of the other way around?
"It's about time we stop counting on other people to instill values into our kids," says Jason Elliott, associate pastor of Bell Chapel United Methodist Church and vice president of the Edison Local School Board in Hammondsville, Ohio.
Talking Dress Codes
More schools across the country are enforcing dress codes for proms and formal dances – no thigh-high slits, formfitting dresses, bare midriffs or cut-outs. Violate the rules, and the girls will be sent home, usually without refunds for the price of their prom tickets.
For some schools, like Catholic schools, who already enforce a daily dress code, a dress code for prom isn't a big stretch. "Although very special, proms and formals are still school functions and all normal school rules should be enforced," says Shannon Sharesky of St. Petersburg, Fla.
But some people, mostly teenagers, argue that a dress code infringes on First Amendment Rights of freedom of expression, while others, mostly adults, believe that letting girls attend prom in "barely there" dresses simply asks for trouble. The concern is that without some type of formal dress code for the prom, the scantily-dressed girls will cause an increase in sexual activity and/or date rape.
"I believe that the lack of a dress code does play a part in increased sexual activity and date rape," Sharesky says. "However, when it comes to proms and formals, I also believe that sexual activity decisions are made prior to the actual function, and for many teenagers it is expected of them by boyfriends, girlfriends and peers. The most important deterrent to this is communication between parents and their children about sex and the consequences of their decisions, especially around prom time."
Parents who establish the ground rules early on, hopefully won't have too many problems. Whether they admit it or not, kids need boundaries. Talk to your kids early, help them build self-respect. Prom is a special time – a once-in-a-lifetime event – that shouldn't be marred by a poor choice in dress.