After A Disaster At Prom, This High School Girl Ended Up Fighting Back
Prom is one of the most important things for a lot of the teenagers that are finishing with high school. The prom night dance has become one of the highlights of ending high school and moving on with your adult life. Would you go to university or would you start working? Anyways, let’s get back to the prom night. This night can leave a lot of pretty memories for a lot of the students that go, but for some of the students, it can be a bittersweet experience.
The prom night party is one of the most symbolic parts of the prom, and this is the night when the students say their “goodbyes” to each other as schoolmates. Clare Ettinger, a teen from Virginia, was engulfed by the event just like any other student at her school. She was expecting a memorable night, a lot of drinking and partying with friends and her boyfriend. But, instead, she got a pretty disappointing experience that left her thinking about what has she done wrong.
Today, we’re going to talk about Clare Ettinger’s story. Just like every teenager and high school student, she and her boyfriend couldn’t wait to get to the prom. They couldn’t wait for what they thought to be a night when they can party until the morning with their friends to come.
And, once the night that they were gladly waiting to come finally came, the two were perfectly dressed but they were still obviously pretty excited. The couple knew that this was maybe the last chance to party with their friends and classmates before all of them take a different path in their lives. But, they didn’t even have in mind the thing that was going to happen and make them want to forget their prom night.
The Theme of the Prom
As we mentioned before, the couple was perfectly dressed for the theme of the prom night, which was “Twilight in Paris.” But, the kids didn’t want to miss the party, so they bought their tickets a couple of weeks earlier. They were happy to choose the outfit that they were going to wear at the party, and they were hoping that they are going to be the best-dressed couple there.
What Clare didn’t expect was that something terrible was going to happen by the end of the night that was going to ruin her good mood and that at the end of the night she is going to be filled with rage. After the happening, she said that this event left her to feel ostracized, and violated.
Looking for the Perfect Dress
You know how girls are when it comes to outfits and deciding on what they’re going to wear on their prom night. So, just like any girl her age, Clare wanted to look perfect that night, so she went out looking for the dress that would fit her and the theme of the night perfectly. All she was thinking about was the one rule that they gave the ladies that were going to the prom, and they should keep their dresses fingertip length or longer.
She was going from store to store looking for the perfect dress. She thoroughly searched six different stores, but she was not able to find the dress that she had in mind. And, just like with everything in life, just about when she was ready to call it quits, she noticed something that took her attention.
She Finally Found What she was Looking For
She started feeling excited, and you could see it in her eyes that she fell in love on first sight with the dress that she saw at Macy’s. The dress was silver in color, and it was sparkly, so she decided that this was going to be the dress that she would be wearing on her prom night dance. She was happy with her choice because of the fact that the dress perfectly fit in the school’s Parisian theme.
Clare was ecstatic! She started envisioning the dress on her prom night photos with her boyfriend standing right next to her. But, before she spends all of her hard earned money that she had been saving for a long time now from the part-time job that she was working on, she knew that the dress needed to pass a trying test, so that she could know that it fits her just as good as it looked on display.
It Fits Her Perfectly
She slowly entered Macy’s, and she immediately started heading to the dress. She started touching and turning the dress, and once she got a nice close-up to it, she took it to the dressing room. She tried the dress in the dressing room, she measured if it would be past her fingertips, and she started staring at the mirror.
She was amazed by how good the dress fitted her. After the prom night in an interview about one of her most memorable nights, she said that she needed to make sure that the dress was fingertip length on her.
The Below Fingertip Length Rule
The dress was passing the fingertip test, and Clare Ettinger was obviously full of joy because of that. The dress was fitting her perfectly, and it passed the fingertip test. She was hopping towards the cash register in order to buy what would be one of the best looking dress that she had ever owned.
She was happy to buy the fabulous looking dress she found. And, it finally looked like the teenager was ready for her prom night and everything was falling in place for her. She didn’t know at the time, but what was supposed to be one of her “perfect nights” was about to take a wrong turn really fast, and her dreams of the “perfect night” would all fall into the water.
She Looks like a Rock Star
She was nervously counting the days leading up to the event. She and her friends were full of excitement. So, they blew off some of the steam by sharing photos by their prom night dresses and outfit that they were going to wear.
Clare Ettinger was feeling like a rock star in her glittering dress. In one of the photos that Clare posted on social media, she said that she was channeling Marilyn Monroe in her. But, what she didn’t expect was that her homeschool prom was not going to consist only of the red carpets and glamorous getups.
Preparing for the Big Night
Back in her mind, Clare was still a little bit worried about the length of the dress, so she put it on one more time, and measured it. And, this time, just like any other time she put it on, it was okay. But, she was putting it on just because of the fact that she was feeling the energy and adrenaline in her body thinking of the upcoming prom night.
She didn’t have a lot of chances nor reasons to dress up in the past because of the fact that she was still a teenager and a high school student. She was eager to show all of her family, her boyfriend, her classmates what she was going to wear, but they were all about to be surprised by what was going to happen.
It Is Finally Here
Prom night was finally here. It was May 10th, 2014, and she was ready to go out. She was done with her hair and makeup, and she was finally going to put on the dress for the hundredth time. She had a bright red lipstick on, and her makeup was on point.
She was looking amazing, her high heels perfectly complimented the glittering dress, and as we mentioned before, her makeup was on point. So, when she was ready, she took one last fingertip measurement test before she headed out. And despite the fact that the measurements were pretty close, she was confident that the dress was fine.
They’re In for a Big Surprise
High school prom nights, one of the most anticipated moments in high school students’ life are a tradition. But, this prom night had one little twist to it that made it even more special for the students.
The fact that she was homeschooled went in Clare’s favor because of the fact that her everyday schedule was not being defined by the peers and the things that would’ve been happening at a regular high school. That’s why she was even more excited about being in these surroundings.
They are Beautiful
Once James, Clare’s boyfriend as well as her prom date for the night, arrived he was simply stunned by how Clare looked in the dress. James was not badly dressed himself. He was wearing a tuxedo. And, after a brief moment at her place, taking customary photos and exchanging the gifts they left.
Claire was pretty confident in herself. After all, she had a statuesque figure combined with one of the best dresses that you could get. And, as everybody started heading to the prom venue, they were not expecting that they would be surprised there.
Stopped in Their Tracks
The couple was ready to enter into the Methodist church where the event was held. They started heading to the foyer, and they were filled with excitement. When all of a sudden, the two were stopped in their tracks by someone.
The person that stopped the couple immediately sobered up their spirits. They stopped the couple before they could even see what everything looked like. They were in disbelief because they thought that this was going to be one of the best nights of their lives, but they were suddenly stopped and confronted.
Why Were they Stopped in Their Tracks
They were about to enter the dance when they were stopped in their tracks by the organizer of the prom night. Ann Duncan was the person that stopped the couple before they entered the prom venue. And she confronted them because of the size of Clare’s dress.
Clare remembers the words, and they are still buzzing in her ears. The organizer said that the dress was too short for her. But, despite the fact that she was stunned by Anne’s words, she quickly gathered herself and responded to the organizer, but everybody who heard her response was pretty shocked.
She Stood her Ground
Claire was sure that she bought a dress that met the standards that her school set. And, she made sure to check that hundred times she tried on the dress. She did a lot for that night, and she would not let the organizer ruin it for her. She was ready to stand her ground and prove to the organizer that her dress is at fingertip length.
And, Clare was not alone in this. She, her boyfriend and her friends put a lot into preparing for this night just to miss it because some woman said that her dress was too short. So, she asked the organizer to reiterate the dress code.
The Dress Meets the Organizer’s Requirements
And, just like she knew and checked a hundred times. The dress code said that the dress shouldn’t be shorter than the fingertips length. So, she told Anne Duncan that her dress met the requirements and that it is below the fingertips length.
She even went on explaining to the organizer that because of the fact that she was 5’9” she was taller and more developed than most of the girls her age. And that’s why the dress might look like it’s shorter than it actually is. And, she finally finished with a demonstration of what she was trying to explain to Anne. She stood still and showed the organizer that her dress is below the fingertip length.
You Can Enter the Ballroom But be Careful
After a small hold up, and after Clare explained to the prom organizer that her dress actually was below fingertips length they were finally free to enter in the venue. But, Anne told Clare that she would keep an eye on her and that she should make sure that the dress stays pulled down as it should be.
After finally entering into the venue, Clare Ettinger felt a bit frustrated with the fact that Mrs. Anne Duncan tried to stop her from entering into the venue. But, she decided that she would leave that behind, because of the fact that she didn’t want her whole night to be bad because of the confrontation.
The Other Girls Also Wore Short Dresses
When she was finally on the dancefloor, she noticed something that actually blew her mind. As Clare, her boyfriend and their friends were entering the ballroom they noticed that none of the girls were actually following the “below fingertips rule” that the organizer stopped her for on the entrance. They were all actually wearing dresses that were much shorter than hers.
She got even more frustrated than she was before, but she figured that most of the girls were much shorter than her, so maybe that’s why it wasn’t as noticeable as in her situation. But, she didn’t want to let the dress problem dictate the atmosphere of the night, and the only thing that she hoped for was an enjoyable night full of surprises. She decided that she was going to leave all the drama in the past, where it all belonged.
This Doesn’t Feel Right
After dancing through a couple of songs in the ballroom James, Clare and their friends felt like they were in the spotlight for some reason, and that all of the chaperones that were on the prom night were giving them the eye. They also felt that there were a lot of chaperones there, and they were sure that they didn’t need that many chaperones on their prom night. And despite the fact that they felt a bit awkward, they decided to stay silent about the problem.
The kids felt that most of the students that were in the ballroom weren’t even dancing and that instead, they were just standing around and talking. They could notice that there were many more chaperones than even students on the party, and what was frustrating for them, was the fact that more of the chaperones were males who were always watching over the group.
Lots Of Chaperones
None of the kids were feeling okay with all of the pressure from the chaperones. Clare and her group even felt a bit violated and as she puts it a bit grossed out by the fact that that many fathers had their eyes on all of the kids and were judging their clothing choice and the way that everybody was dancing.
But, as we said earlier, they decided to stay silent about that and just try to shake the uncomfortable feeling that they had. They were just trying to enjoy the time that they spent there. But, it didn’t pass a lot of time until Clare noticed Mrs. Duncan heading her way again. And this time, she looked as though that she had some problem with the group.
Taken Aside Once Again
Clare Ettinger, her boyfriend, and their group were just swaying to the music and talking about usual things when they noticed that Mrs. Anne Duncan was rushing their way. Once she got to them, she interrupted them, and she took Clare into a hallway corner where she would mention something that would make Clare’s skin crawl.
Once the prom organizer took Clare away from her group, she told her something that made her skin crawl. Apparently, a lot of the prom chaperones were informing the organizer that Clare’s dancing was too provocative for their taste, and they also added that her dress would awake impure thoughts at the young boys’ minds. And they didn’t want that. Once Clare heard all of this she couldn’t believe her ears, her skin started crawling, and this time she really felt violated.
What am I Hearing?!
She couldn’t believe the words that were coming out of Mrs. Anne Duncan’s mouth. With the rough start that the night had with Anne stopping Clare at the entrance, and now this she was filled with rage, but she tried to control herself. But, as Mrs. Duncan proceeded to tell her the problems that the parents saw with her dancing and her dress she started losing control, she felt like she was sexualized, and she was disgusted at the thought that she was held responsible for the impure thoughts that young boys had. This incident felt a lot like victim blaming to young Clare.
Clare had started the night believing she was just a young woman at the prom to have a good time. She just didn’t think it was right that she’d have to worry about bearing responsibility for what adult men thought was ‘appropriate,’ but it didn’t end there.
Back in the Days
In the old times, when Clare’s parents were going to prom, the standards were a lot more restrictive than at that point in time. A lot of the women in the older generations were subjected to a lot of tests that they needed to pass in order to go to prom. Believe it or not, the teachers would measure the length of the students’ dresses with a yardstick.
But, even in today’s standards, it is not uncommon for proms to have dress length standards. And Clare surely knew the rule, and she was careful to check for it a couple of times. But, this wasn’t a problem with the length of her dress. In fact, this was a subject of much deeper historical problems that had not yet been solved.
Provocative Dancing and Provocative Dress
Once again, Clare tried to stay as collected as she could after she heard the words that came out of Mrs. Duncan’s mouth. She told her that she hardly even danced, and while she was dancing, she wasn’t dancing in any kind of provocative manner. She proceeded by showing the women that her dress actually passes the requirements. But, the chaperones were decisive that she was breaking the rules.
Clare was in disbelief, and she couldn’t understand why the parents singled her out of the bunch and said that she was dancing provocative and she was dressed provocatively when there were clearly other girls that wore shorter dresses, and they were dancing in a more provocative way. But, she couldn’t reason with the two women. So, this is when her friends and her boyfriend tried to get into the conversation. They started debating with the chaperones and the organizer, but they were left stunned by the response that they got.
We Won’t Leave Her Behind
Clare’s group tried to stand up for their friend, and they asked the chaperones what the problem was. But, they were left stunned when the chaperones told them that this wasn’t their business and that they are not welcomed in the conversation. Mrs. Duncan and the chaperones said that if Clare didn’t leave the party voluntary, she would be forcefully kicked out of the event.
Mrs. Duncan wouldn’t change her opinion about what she said, and this left Clare with no way out then to leave. So, she was obviously heartbroken. This was when James decided to step into the debate, and he didn’t want the way that his girlfriend was mistreated, so he said that if Clare leaves, the whole group that came with her will leave, and that wasn’t the only thing. He also added that they were going to demand refunds for the prom night.
Defending his Girlfriend
James was quick to defend his girlfriend because of the fact that he knew that she was mistreated and that she was unfairly targeted by the parents. He was able to control himself, but he was full of anger. So, he asked the parents to tell him what was going on and to explain to him the problem. He also explained why they would ask for a refund. Because the whole group came together, and there was no way that they would be separated.
But, Mrs. Anne Duncan said that he should back out, and if he didn’t, he would also be kicked out without any refunds. She knew that the two came together and she figured that they were a couple. But, according to her, this was not James’s business. But, there was one last thing that Clare could try to do in order to stay at the party.
Can’t go Against the Organizer
That one last thing that Clare could do was to try and go above the obstacle. Mrs. Duncan was the obstacle, in this case, so Clare tried to find someone that would be above Duncan so that they could enjoy the night, just like any prom night goer should.
Clare tried to find someone who was above Mrs. Duncan’s head. So, she asked to speak to the lady that was in charge of the prom. But her request was denied by Mrs. Duncan. She was determined that she is right, and she wouldn’t change her mind. Could somebody else help Clare in this heated argument? Read on and find out.
One Last Try
Clare didn’t have any luck in trying to talk Mrs. Duncan out of kicking her out of the party. So, she told her friends, and as the security guard was escorting them out of the prom night party, she had an idea.
She was sad, angry, and emotionally pushed into a corner. She felt like everybody was against her, so this was her last try of staying at the party. She decided to ask the security guard what he thought of her dress. She was surprised when she heard the security guard say that she didn’t think that the dress was exposing her in any kind of way. But, he also stated that it wasn’t his opinion that counted, so Clare’s plan had fallen into the water, and she and her friends had to leave the party.
Leaving the Prom Dance
So, the debate between Mrs. Duncan and Clare got pretty heated, and it was obvious that Mrs. Duncan wouldn’t budge. After a long debate, the prom chaperon and the organizer wouldn’t discuss the matter anymore. So, they asked the security guard to escort the group out of the prom.
The punishment that Clare got didn’t feel right to any one of the group. She was sad and angry about what just happened to her, and she couldn’t accept the fact that only she was going to receive a refund for the prom ticket. So, he decided to take this debate a step further.
Sharing her Problem
Despite the fact that Clare and her friends didn’t get the fun night that they were expecting, Clare decided to take matters into her own hands. She was sure that her dress met the requirements that the school had set, and she is more than sure that she didn’t break any rules. So, she wanted to spread the word of what happened on that night, and get some answers why was she the one that was kicked out of the event when there were lots of other girls that wore dresses which were much shorter than hers.
She wasn’t going to leave the problem alone until she got some answers. So, she decided to take this debate to the only place where she could get the answers. She took the debate to the internet. But, once she put the story out on the internet, she was surprised by the reactions and the support that she got from it.
Writing Her Story
Clare decided to write her heart out in a blog post on a blog that her sister owned. She told everyone what happened that night and she also explained what the problem was, she also added that she didn’t think that this should be such a big problem, especially at this day and age. She was unhappy with the double standard that she was exposed to. She stated that no one should feel responsible for the thoughts that adult men have.
She also tried to understand the other side of the post. So, she said that might be because of the fact that she was taller and more developed than the other girls there, the dress looked more provocative. But, that should not be a reason for her to be kicked out when she didn’t break any rule. In the post, she also wrote that she thinks that things should change from the other side. She said that the problem was with the people that were judging her, and she said that it was time they enter the new age.
Started Going Viral
Even though she did not expect the post to blow up, the prom story that she posted on her sister’s blog sure took off pretty quickly. The dress controversy started going viral as soon as she posted it, and it gathered waves of supporters that agreed with Clare that what happened wasn’t right. And, each and every one of them agreed with Clare that young women should not be body shamed.
Clare didn’t expect so many people to support her in her fight for equality. But, none of those people were the ones she wanted to get to her. She expected to get a response from the administration of her school. But, what Richmond homeschool did with their Facebook page later, more than proved her position in this debate.
Richmond Homeschool’s Facebook Page
Namely, the admin of the Facebook page for Richmond homeschool started deleting all of the negative comments leading up to the dress controversy. But, once they started getting overwhelmed by all the negativity, the homeschool decided to delete their Facebook page.
Clare didn’t get what she was hoping to get from the homeschool and from the organizers to the prom party, but she didn’t end the battle there. There were still some people that didn’t agree altogether with what happened that night, and how Clare told the story.
A local affiliate network to CBS got the story and started interviewing the two parties that were involved in the debate. Clare’s family defended her and her side of the story, but she didn’t speak in front of the cameras because of the fact that she wasn’t an adult at the time.
But, when they got to interview Mrs. Anne Duncan, the organizer of the prom night party, she strongly stayed to her story, she told that Clare’s dress was rude and that she was dancing in a provocative way. The organizer also discredited the claims that the chaperons were constantly following Clare, because, as she says, there were five hundred more children at the prom.
Not Agreeing with Clare Completely
The Virginia town was surrounded by the talks about the prom dress controversy. Talks reached other Richmond homeschool prom attendees. So, when one prom attendee heard about the problem, she was quick to say that even though Clare was dancing a bit provocatively, so did all of the other girls.
The name of the person who spoke about this was Callie. She also added that if somebody broke the rules of the prom night, they were right to kick him or her out. But, they should’ve done the same with most of the other girls and couples there. Because, as Callie puts it. Rules should be equally enforced upon each and every attendee at the prom. But Clare wasn’t finished yet. She wanted to go even further with this.
Making the Video
Clare and her boyfriend, James, also made a video in response to the debate that her post started. In the video, they spoke about the problems that their society was facing, problems concerning teenagers, gender equality, and sexuality. And, they finished the video with one thought that sparked even more people to enter the debate. They said that people shouldn’t be respected according to the way that they dance or they dress.
Clare felt like she was unjustly kicked out of the prom. And she was even angrier because of the way that she was treated. She wanted her story to start a debate between people. She wanted to raise people’s awareness about body shaming and sexual harassment. She also wanted to demonstrate that the problem was with the problematic mindsets of the parents and not with the dresses that the girls were wearing and the way that they were dancing.
Clare Has a Goal
Clare doesn’t want to be the center of attention with the story. In fact, she wants people to look beyond her problem and understand that body shaming and sexism won’t solve anything. She thinks that the problem is in society, and if they want to change it, they should stop being gender bias.
In her situation, she was blamed for the way she was dressed because according to the parents, boys wouldn’t be able to control their own functions, and according to them, she was somehow to blame for this. The men that judged her according to her appearance didn’t get any repercussions nor reprimands. But this wasn’t all.
No Responsibility Taken
The organizers of that prom night of Richmond Homeschool have remained deaf to the problem that Clare Ettinger faced that night. They didn’t say anything aside from the interview that we’ve talked about from Mrs. Duncan. Nobody from the school has come out and spoke about the problem.
James and the other friends that left the prom with Clare didn’t get that refund they asked for. And, what’s even sadder is the fact that Clare never got an apology in any form from anyone in the homeschool. But, she surely received something else that would help her along the way.
Didn’t Expect the Support
Clare is thankful for all of the support and love she got from people all over the world. Clare and her boyfriend never expected to get such support when they were posting the story. This encouraged many others to share their stories.
In the uploaded video, Clare and James shared their point of view to the story, and they made it acceptable to the public. Clare said that these stories should come out of the closet, so that young women could fight for gender equality. Men should not be the reason why women dress a certain way, and women shouldn’t be limited to how to dress because of men.
Another Prom Dress Controversy
But, Clare’s dress controversy isn’t the only one. While she was kicked out because her dress was too short and she was dancing in a provocative way, another girl had an entirely different problem with her dress. And no, this wasn’t anything connected to the length of the dress.
Keziah Daum from Utah is a teenager that had problems with her dress on her prom night too, but her problem was a bit different from Clare’s. Namely, she got the red dress from a vintage shop, and she wasn’t aware that her dress was a traditional Chinese costume. So, the interned started criticizing the girl for cultural appropriation. And, these girls are not the only ones. There is another girl that had a problem with her dress.
And Another One
Another girl named Mireya Briceno had problems with her prom night dress too. Namely, her school forbade that the girls’ dresses expose their midriff. She knew about the rule, and she got a fantastic polka dotted dress that was perfect for her. It accented all her curves, and it still respected the rule that her school dictated. But, according to the organizers, this still wasn’t enough.
It didn’t take the organizers too long before they noticed Briceno’s dress and they had sent the girl home. Despite the fact that her dress was respecting the rule, and it was hiding her midriff, she was still exposing her back, and the organizers weren’t happy with that. This was enough to send her home. And, this is another case of a woman being shamed for her body and her dress.