Prom dress code bans students from showing 'excessive cleαvage' — and the teens are upset

A high school in Hawaii is banning excessive skin at prom. (Photo: Getty Images)
A high school in Hawaii is banning excessive skin at prom. (Photo: Getty Images)

High school students in Hawaii are protesting their school’s prom dress code which bans girls from showing “excessive cleαvage.”

Per a petition called “Change the restrictions on prom dress codes for Kauai High School” which has received more than 400 signatures, the dress code for the upcoming prom is “discriminating and insulting to girls.”

The Kauai High School dress code reportedly bans: slits on the backs of dresses that expose the upper thighs, backless dresses that fall below the mid-back (under the bra strap), dresses with cut-outs that expose bare skin, off-the-shoulder dresses, and any attire that shows “excessive cleαvage.”

The petition, launched by student Annie Funaki of Lawai, states: “The facts are this is 2018, where we are told to be confident in our body, but then you create these restrictions that discriminate us and hypersexualize us to the point that we cannot feel comfortable without the assumption that we are being “provocative.” This dress code fits more of highly conservative standards than a school dress code.

The poster instructing students what the should and shouldn’t do. (Photo:
The poster instructing students what the should and shouldn’t do. (Photo:

It continues, “We ask you to please read this and hear our voice, as we try to make a change in something that should not have been done in the first place, and trust our judgment in representing ourselves and this school.

Supporters of the petition wrote the following comments:

  • “Why should we be told that we have to hide our bodies because they’re sexual when they’re not? People shouldn’t be thinking of them like that in the first place. If you’re worried about boys getting too excited over seeing a girls shoulders, you should be teaching them some self-control.”

  • “There is no situation in which anyone should be told what they can and cannot especially in the situation where women clothing controls the concentration of men and women. Teach the behavior you want to see instead of oppressing an entire gender. Men [can focus] with a shoulder showing.

  • “Students should have a right to wear whatever dress they please they should be able to feel confident and express themselves.”

Neither Funaki or school principal Anne Kane responded to Yahoo Lifestyle’s request for comment.

Prom season has always exposed fundamental flaws in school dress codes due to more emphasis placed on girls’ attire and the potential to discriminate based on physicality.

For example, in March, the Boylan Catholic High School in Rockford, Illinois school released a 19-page now-deleted document called “Proper dress and dance policy” which, according to the New York Post stated, “[Dress necklines] must be cut in a modest way without showing cleαvage” and any cuts in the back or sides “must not be cut below the navel (below your elbow).” The guide also printed a series of photos exemplifying what not to wear, including strapless or wrap dresses.

The school also took no measures to conceal its body-shaming message: “Some girls may wear the same dress, but due to body types, one dress may be acceptable while the other is not,” read the guide.

Per the Post, school president Amy Ott explained, “You have to try a dress on and see what it looks like on you, not how it looks on someone else. … It’s like shopping for any other kind of clothing in this day and age. You want to look your best and look appropriate.”

Teen Brittany Minder was prevented from entering her 2013 prom at Central Kitsap High School in Silverdale, Washington unless she draped a shawl over her strapless gown. “In my opinion, I feel that it is because I’m bigger chested and there is more cleαvage that you can see, and there’s nothing I could really do about that,” she told local news station KATU 2.

Minder stayed at prom for only an hour, then left. “I felt self-conscious and they took the magic out of the night,” she told the news station. “It was tough being there after all that happened. I didn’t feel comfortable. I already had a blow to my self-esteem. I didn’t really want to be there anymore.”

And Alexus Miller-Wigfall, a student at Sci Tech Harrisburg High School in Pennsylvania was served a three-day suspension (that was later reversed) in 2015 for wearing a long, red gown to prom that the school deemed too “revealing.”

The teen told Penn Live that she was discriminated against due to her weight. “[The assistant principal] said, ‘You have more boobs than other girls. The other girls have less to show.'”

And mom Alisha Sneed told the publication, “I don’t see anything wrong with that dress. What do they want her to wear, a turtleneck? My daughter’s dress was tasteful and classy. I don’t think that it’s fair that my daughter was singled out.”

Read more from Yahoo Lifestyle:

Follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter for nonstop inspiration delivered fresh to your feed, every day.