Boylan Catholic High School just dropped a hot tome in the laps of the boys and girls of Rockford, IL in the form of a prom dress code. That's right, they've written 21 luminous pages of "what not to wear" to help their students have the most fun possible (within the rules of course!) at the big party that our culture has told them will be the biggest deal of their teenage lives.
Now, gentleman, if you're confused about what you're supposed to wear to the most amazing experience of your young life, don't you worry. Because Boylan's got four incredible images of men in suits to guide you towards the dapper look you're going for. They also remind you that you're expected to wear either a "tuxedo, suit with a tie, or sport coat and slacks with a tie."
And ladies? Where do I begin, because the remainder of the guidebook is dedicated entirely to you. Boylan has provided the lovely young women about to head off to college with 57 images reminding them how they should—and, of course, should not—dress. Wow, thanks Boylan! Now, girls, I know what you're thinking. You're thinking that this isn't fair. Why should the boys barely receive any guidelines for how to dress for prom, meanwhile you are given strict rules on how low, high, strappy, or mesh things are allowed to be? And you know what? You're right! It definitely isn't. But the truth of the matter is that we live in a society that often defaults to promoting rape culture. Women are treated as sexual objects who could potentially distract and arouse young men, causing them to do all kinds of things that boys are wont to do, due to their penis areas.
Oh, and if you're an LGBT student, this manual is sure to make you feel really out of place and horrible. Chances are, if you don't conform to Boylan's gender-normative understanding of traditional dress for prom, you could get in trouble. But, prom will definitely be so fun!
Now, I'd like to take a moment to point out one of my favorite lines in the entire book, which is on page nine: "Some girls may wear the same dress, but due to body types, one dress may be acceptable while the other is not." Is that line obliquely body shaming women who might have fuller figures? You bet it is! But that's because Boylan wants to make sure that all of you have a great time at prom, and what is prom if everyone isn't feeling extreme shame over their bodies, especially those who don't conform to the media's portrayal of the ideal female body type?
How is this real? That's a really great question. But I'm really glad Refinery29 brought it to my attention, because today is International Women's Day, and this insane double-standard-filled dress code is just another example of how sexism continues to persist in 2017. If we instill these types of judgments in girls and boys when they are not even out of high school, we are complicit in creating a culture that systemically supports sexism, even if we're telling women to apply for whatever college they want and take STEM classes. Plus, prom is weird enough as it is! Let these kids live! Just a suggestion, but I think a great use of paper would be printing out these dress code guidelines and setting them on fire. Just an idea. You can read (and print out!) the whole book here.