Alexus Miller-Wigfall was allegedly served a suspension notice because her prom dress was deemed too revealing. (Photo: PennLive)
A high school senior was given a suspension notice three days after her prom because the dress she wore was supposedly too revealing. The suspension was reversed, according to PennLive, but her mother is still questioning why it was issued in the first place.
Alexus Miller-Wigfall wore a red floor-length, long-sleeved dress to the Saturday, Apr. 25, prom at the Sci Tech Campus of Harrisburg High School. But on Tuesday, Apr. 28, Miller-Wigfall was issued a one-day suspension by school officials because the dress she wore was deemed too revealing, according to PennLive. That suspension was reversed before Miller-Wigfall had to serve it, according to the news site.
Still, Miller-Wigfall told PennLive that she was singled out because of her size. “[The assistant principal] said, ‘You have more boobs than other girls. The other girls have less to show,’” she said.
Alisha Sneed, Miller-Wigfall’s mother, told PennLive that she believes her daughter was discriminated against because she is plus-sized, and claims other girls wore dresses that were more revealing. “I don’t see anything wrong with that dress. What do they want her to wear, a turtleneck?” she said. “My daughter’s dress was tasteful and classy. I don’t think that it’s fair that my daughter was singled out.”
Sneed declined Yahoo Parenting’s request for comment.
In a statement to Yahoo Parenting, Harrisburg School District claims there is more to the story. “The District disputes the version of events provided to the newspaper. That version does not tell the entire story. That being said, the District cannot and will not comment on the specifics of this situation because they involve a student and there are confidentiality issues to consider. The District has attempted to contact and discuss the matter with the student’s parent, and it will continue to do so. The School District will have no further public statement on this matter.”
The incident, which is the latest in an ever-growing number of prom-dress controversies, raises important questions for high schoolers, especially for girls getting ready for the big dance: Are dress guidelines and punishments actually about shaming women about their bodies? Are girls with more curves getting discriminatory treatment?
In a similar incident, Mireya Briceno, a high school senior at Muskegon High School in Michigan, was kicked out of her prom last week because her dress supposedly violated the school dress code. The dress was floor-length, short-sleeved, and backless, which was allowed, according to the dress code. “The vice principal approached [Mireya] and asked her to stand up,” Mireya’s mother, Connie Briceno, told Yahoo Parenting. “After she stood up, she was asked to turn around, and when she did the vice principal just said, ‘You have to leave, you’re in dress code violation.’”
At both Harrisburg and Muskegon High Schools, the prom dress codes pertained only to female students. “Ladies, here are some guidelines to remember…” said the Muskegon High School prom handout, which went on to elaborate that no midriffs or too-short dresses would be allowed. According to Penn Live, female students at Harrisburg High School had to get their dresses pre-approved for the prom. Male students didn’t require pre-approval.
Sarah Maria, a body image expert and author of Love Your Body, Love Your Life, says these instances amount to body shaming only if the school singled out girls with specific body types. “If a school says ‘we have a policy, don’t wear something that is above the knee,’ then fine, that’s the policy. Similarly, the rule ‘we don’t want cleavage on prom dresses’ has to be across the board for everyone” she says. “A dress code is not about your body being scrutinized — institutions have policies. You show up late to class, you get a notice. You violate the dress code, same thing. But the school better have a clear policy, and not unfairly punish girls that are, for example, plus-sized.”