It’s not unusual for teenage girls to mimic celebrities' red carpet looks for their own proms, but 16-year-old Alexis Carter went the nontraditional route for her Hollywood-themed school prom last week at Digital Harbor High School in Baltimore. Eschewing the traditional glam gown, Alexis wore a black jumpsuit with a plunging neckline inspired by a nearly identical green Alexandre Vauthier design her idol Rihanna wore to the Echo Awards in 2010. While the teen was confident enough to wear the out-of-the-box outfit, she could never have predicted the national attention her prom look would get.
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Alexis’s junior prom started out according to plan. “The prom theme was Hollywood, and it was held at an old movie theater — it had a red carpet and everything,” Alexis tells Yahoo Shine. "I looked up Rihanna’s red carpet outfits for inspiration, and I loved all of them because her style is my style. I went with the green look, because I knew nobody would think of that.” After an exhaustive search, Alexis and her mother, Lakeisha Parker, found someone who could custom-make the striking design, which featured padded shoulders and oversized flowing sleeves connecting the arms and legs like wings. "When I got to prom everyone was like, 'It’s cute, you killed it, I love it, you have a great body.' So I decided to put a few photos up on Instagram and Twitter."
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Shortly after posting the pictures, Alexis couldn’t figure out why her Twitter account had so much activity. Apparently, one of her photos (which she has since taken down) had gone viral and spawned the unfortunate hashtag #PromBat. "Her brother, my 19-year old-son who accompanied her to the prom, started seeing people saying 'Darkwing Duck,’ 'She looks like a bat,’” Parker tells Shine. “I told her, ‘This is what critics do, just hold your head up and don't stop being you.” But soon #PromBat became a trending topic and caught the attention of Rihanna herself.
Then, unbelievably, the singer tweeted out a composite “Who Wore It Best”-style photo of Alexis and herself wearing their jumpsuits and captioned it simply with an emoticon of a sad face. Then she tweeted yet another photo of the high-schooler alongside the Wu-Tang Clan’s lookalike logo (which was later retweeted by Busta Rhymes). Not surprisingly, Alexis was devastated.
"I started crying at first, and when it went viral I was so stressed out that I didn’t want to go to school,” Alexis says. “When Rihanna posted that photo it made it 10 times worse. The whole reason I wore [the jumpsuit] was because I love her. She was my motivation, and I was so shocked. She had to really think about it to make and post a picture about it. That’s overboard and tells me a lot about her. She’s nasty, and she really desecrated my name.” The teen's question for the singer: "You’re a grown woman — why would you be doing that? You’re supposed to uplift them, not put them down.” Yahoo Shine reached out to Rihanna’s rep for comment, but has not yet heard back.
More than a week after her prom, people are still tweeting with the #PromBat hashtag. Alexis says her whole family has been called names, and she believes it’s her fault. "I didn’t ask for her to throw my name. I didn’t ask for people to interview me. I just wanted to post a picture up like every teenager would do at the prom. I’m not going to stop being different, and I can’t help what I love to wear, but I will never ever, ever go with one of Rihanna’s designs again. I was thinking about selling my prom outfit since I’m not going to wear it again, but then I thought I wouldn’t want to put anyone else through what I did.”
Rihanna has developed a bit of a reputation for fighting back against her Twitter followers. Below is just one incident that occurred in 2012:
At this point Alexis says a personal apology from Rihanna won’t help. “It’s not going to change what she did or what anybody said about me. I was her No. 1 fan, and now I’m not. I don’t want to meet her. I don’t want to go to her concerts.” Cater understands where her daugther's coming from, adding, "What everyone fails to understand is this was her first junior prom, and she can never take this back."