Thanks to Kyemah McEntyre, the teenager who designed her own prom dress last year, high school students across the country are wearing African-themed gowns. Yet despite the popularity of Ankara print gowns, Mayalaya Zanders was shamed for choosing one.
When the 17-year-old, who attends Garfield Heights High School in Cleveland, Ohio, told a teacher about her custom look, the Caucasian administrator reportedly called it “tacky for prom.”
Determined to prove her critic wrong, Mayalaya collaborated with local designer DeAndre’ Crenshaw of IndelibleDC to customize a royal blue java Ankara print gown with a front slit and dramatic mermaid bottom. She accessorized it with a structural belt, a bicep bracelet, and layers of gold necklaces.
Aside from the one bad review, the response to Mayalaya’s outfit has been overwhelmingly positive. “Beautifully done and awesome message,” one person wrote in the comments. Another shared, “I still can’t get over how beautiful you looked. You definitely made this outfit work and it looks absolutely perfect on you.” Multiple others called her “stunning,” “beautiful,” and said that she “slayed.”
“Thank you to everyone who gave me kind words on my prom dress,” Mayalaya shared. “My dress was to make a point. That African style is beautiful. That I am comfortable with my Melanin and roots. And finally that there’s nothing like Black girl Magic.”