High School Makes Girls Submit Dress Photos Before They Can Buy Homecoming Tickets

by Christine Organ
Originally Published: 
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Wisconsin High school requires students to submit dress photos prior to dance

Another day, another dress code story, right? Lately it seems like schools are trying to outdo each other for most ridiculous dress code policy, and a Wisconsin high school comes darn close to winning that award. Its Homecoming Dance policy requires dress-wearing students to submit photos of their dress – front and back – before being allowed to buy tickets to the dance.

Yes, you read that right. The school needs to see a photo of girls wearing their dress in order to be allowed into the event. A recent email to parents indicated that parents can email the principal in advance “to indicate they have reviewed the dress guidelines and will assist [the school] to ensure student attire is compliant.” But even then, it appears the student could be turned away at the door if her dress doesn’t meet the school’s standards.

Although the dress code policy applies to both male and female students, and includes prohibitions on things like low-hanging pants that expose underwear, only those students wearing dresses (i.e. girls) are required to submit a photo of themselves wearing their attire in advance. According to Michelle Jenkins, whose daughter attends the school, girls aren’t allowed to show cleavage or wear a strapless dress. Spaghetti straps and cut-outs are also a big no-no.

“Almost every dress has some sort of open back which is prohibited at my school,” Jenkins daughter, Mikayla, 17, told ABC News. “It took me a long time to find a dress that I knew would absolutely be approved. Overall, I believe that us as young adults should be able to make our own choices in choosing a dress without administration judging us and holding us against these strict policies.”

A press release from Mike Cady, superintendent of Pewaukee School District, provided to Scary Mommy indicates that the purpose of the photo requirement is to manage the dress code in “the most discreet and private manner possible” and that they welcome “honest conversations that helps ensure our students and families are heard and respected.” He also told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel it was girls who forced the district to invoke the pre-approval requirement by pushing the limits of what is deemed “appropriate attire” at school dances.

“Really the negative reaction has been external, primarily via social media,” Cady wrote in an email to ABC News.

Look, can we all just agree that, most dress codes suck and be done with these ridiculous rules? Dress codes negatively impact girls more than boys, contain inherent messages of body shaming, and can lead to rather draconian consequences for minor offenses.

Even parenting experts think that dress codes such as this one send harmful messages to young women.

“What we’re looking at is arbitrary standards that an adult gets to decide and what that does is shame the young person and says, ‘You don’t get to belong here because of the way that your body looks,’” Rosalind Wiseman, whose book Queen Bees and Wannabes influenced the movie Mean Girls, told ABC News.

“I think the fact that we have to submit a photo of ourselves wearing it front and back is a little bit creepy to me,” said Nicole Stark, a student at the school. She told ABC News she’d rather not submit a photo of her dress in advance even though it means she may not be allowed to attend the Homecoming Dance.

Regardless of whether the students and their parents are complying with the policy, several parents agree that the photo requirement oversteps parental boundaries.

“The girls are essentially being held responsible for the wayward thoughts (administrators) think boys have,” said Rebecca Sheperd, whose daughter attends Pewaukee High School this year, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “They’re being told, ‘You are the problem.'” She went on to say she believes the dress code policy reinforces rape culture.

“I just wish they would trust our upperclassman to have some class and represent their school in a tasteful manner,” Jenkins said. “We are obviously paying for these dresses and allowing our children to go to this dance wearing what we feel is appropriate and I think that’s really the point here.”

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