Girl Was Forced Out Of Prom After Volunteers Saw Something They Couldn’t Believe
One of the greatest events of a teenager’s life is senior prom. After four long years of high school, seniors can’t wait for the night where they get to let loose and live it up with their friends before they part ways after graduating. Clare Ettinger was one teen who wanted her senior prom to turn out perfectly and after finding the right dress, she thought it would be. Unfortunately, things didn’t go as she hoped.
A High School Tradition
Prom is a rite of passage for many teenagers, even if you don’t attend an actual high school. Such was the case for 17-year-old Clare Ettinger of Richmond, Virginia. Despite the fact that she was homeschooled, she and fellow homeschool students are thrown a prom every year.
Thankful that she didn’t get to miss out on this teenage milestone, Ettinger could hardly wait when the day of her senior prom came around in 2014.
They Couldn’t Wait For The Big Night
Ettinger was set to attend Richmond Homeschool Prom with her boyfriend, James Thompson. They could hardly contain their excitement and even purchased their prom tickets way in advance.
Their senior prom was going to be one of the best nights of their teen years, especially having fun alongside all of their friends. Of course, the first task was to find the perfect outfit that would make the night completely unforgettable.
Ettinger Had To Find The Right Dress
The prom’s theme was “Twilight in Paris,” which meant everyone would be dressing up in their nicest, romantic attire. Ettinger, for one, searched high and low for the perfect dress to wear to her senior prom.
With so many styles and colors available these days, Ettinger was certainly not at a loss for options. But even though the store stocked plenty of options, Ettinger would still be restricted when it came to which dresses she could pick.
If the dress didn’t pass, things wouldn’t go over well…
The Search For “The Dress”
Clare Ettinger went to six different stores to find the perfect prom dress to go along with the “Twilight in Paris” theme. There were plenty of options within her vicinity but still, she couldn’t find “the” dress.
Most girls know intuitively if they are destined to get a dress the moment they put it on. When you automatically feel that way in a dress, it is often known as “the” dress for whatever special occasion you have.
She Was Going To Sparkle At Prom
Teenage girls often spend a significant amount of time looking for the perfect prom dress, especially when it comes to their senior prom, and Clare Ettinger was no exception. After combing through the inventory for six stores, she finally found her dress.
“My dress was gorgeous, silver, and sparkly and I got it at Macy’s and was very excited to find it after searching over 6 stores for this dress,” Ettinger wrote in a blog post.
The Big Restriction
Ettinger may have found her perfect dress, but there was a very special guideline it had to follow before she bought it. “The only dress code specified on the registration form was that ‘Ladies, please keep your dresses fingertip length or longer,'” Ettinger wrote.
But would Ettinger’s silver dress pass the test? In order to determine this, the dress would have to fall farther down than her fingertips when her arms were relaxed at her sides.
She would almost forget that the length of the dress would change with her heels…
The Fingertip Test
Ettinger put on the dress and put her arms down. The hem of the dress was past her fingertips and it looked like her pick was a go! She even spent her hard-earned tips on the outfit.
“Like a good little homeschooler, I made sure that the dress was fingertip length on me; I even tried it on with my shoes, just to be sure. It was fingertip length, I was ecstatic,” Ettinger wrote.
Ettinger Got All Dolled Up
With her dress finally picked out, it seemed that Ettinger’s senior prom was going to be seamless. When the big night came around, she spent a lot of time getting dolled up, much like most girls on their prom night.
With her blonde hair, Ettinger noted that she put on red lipstick and channeled her inner Marilyn Monroe. Rightly so, Ettinger felt beautifully confident on her prom night, expecting to have a wonderful time.
One Last Check
Ettinger made sure one last time that her dress passed the fingertip test. Even with her heels on, the dress just barely fell past her fingertips. She attributed this to the fact that as a taller, curvier girl, the dress appeared shorter than it would on someone with average build.
Even though it was pushing it, the dress technically passed the one dress code rule. Ettinger didn’t think that it was such a big deal.
Ettinger herself saw the dress barely pass the test, but would the chaperones agree?
It Was Going To Be An Unforgettable Night
In addition to getting all dressed up for prom, Clare Ettinger and her friends were excited to experience the same things as their peers who went to public school.
As homeschool students, Ettinger and her friends didn’t get to see each other on a daily basis. The prom was an opportunity for them to congregate in a common school setting for at least one night out of the year. But the night wouldn’t turn out as expected.
She Would Later Find Out The Truth
Ettinger didn’t think there was anything wrong with her outfit. After all, it technically followed by the dress code set forth by prom organizers. But once she got there, someone spoke up.
"I’m a tall and fairly curvy girl and you know something? I looked hot," Ettinger admitted on the blog post. "Not trashy, but you definitely would look twice when I walked through a doorway. And you know what happened? I got kicked out of prom because of it."
They Almost Didn’t Let Her In
Clare Ettinger was kicked out of her prom due to a culmination of unfair events, but it didn’t happen right away. The moment Ettinger arrived at the prom, one of the prom’s volunteers named Mrs. D called her out for the length of her dress.
Ettinger reminded Mrs. D of the dress code and showed her that the dress passed. Mrs. D was reluctant to let Ettinger go inside, telling her to keep her dress pulled down.
They may have let her in, but this would set the tone for her entire night…
She Thought She Was Fine Inside
Ettinger was a bit disturbed by Mrs. D’s pettiness but laughed to herself when she entered the prom and saw other girls in short dresses. She decided to spend the rest of the night having fun with her friends.
"I joined my group of friends… and told them what happened, they were all appalled, especially considering we’ve been attending this prom all four years of high school and usually wore much shorter dresses [than] we chose this year," she wrote.
Ettinger Was Already In Hot Water
Ettinger and Mrs. D knew that the length of the dress was cutting it close. After Ettinger was told to just keep the bottom of her dress pulled down, she thought that would be the only issue of the night.
But even on the dance floor, something didn’t feel right. For one, Ettinger was now being watched by Mrs. D to make sure that she was following the rules. But things continued to escalate.
She Felt Like She Was Singled Out
Ettinger hoped that the brief misunderstanding with Mrs. D would be the only bump in the road on her prom night. But even when she made it out to the dance floor, she couldn’t help but feel like she was singled out for some reason, especially seeing other (albeit shorter) girls in short dresses like hers.
But to make things worse, something strange was happening around the dance floor that Ettinger and her friends couldn’t help but notice.
Ettinger’s dress made her stand out and it would attract the wrong attention…
The Chaperones Felt Like Big Brother
While dancing with their friends, Ettinger and her boyfriend couldn’t help but notice how awkward the entire event felt. For one, they thought that there were too many chaperones at the event. In fact, Ettinger’s boyfriend would later comment that it seemed like there were more chaperones than prom attendees!
It wasn’t just the adult female chaperones who were overbearing either. There were a strange amount of adult male chaperones too, which was concerning.
Ettinger And Her Friends Were Creeped Out
Above the dance floor was a balcony from which many of the adult male chaperones were observing all the teens. Clare Ettinger and her friends couldn’t help but feel creeped out.
"We were also a little grossed out by all the dads on the balcony above the dance floor, ogling and talking amongst themselves," Ettinger wrote of the event. But this observation would turn out to be the reason that Ettinger got pulled aside.
It Was Like The Dads Were Eyeing Them
Ettinger and her friends thought it was strange how the adult male chaperones were just standing around watching the students, especially with so many young women all made up for prom night.
Ettinger has stated that they felt “violated” and that it was as if they were being spied on to make sure they weren’t doing anything inappropriate. For Ettinger’s part, she and her friends weren’t doing anything wrong, dancing as a group instead of coupling up.
It would be this dancing, however, that was the final straw.
Mrs. D Had To Take Ettinger Aside
Before she knew it, Ettinger was pulled aside by Mrs. D and another female chaperone. They took Ettinger to another room and explained that some of the male chaperones thought she was dancing too provocatively.
They also told her that they thought Ettinger’s dancing would encourage the young males in attendance to "think impure thoughts." It should be noted that the Richmond Homeschool Prom was held at a local Methodist church.
She Was Just Trying To Enjoy Her Prom
Clare Ettinger would later say that she was just a teenager who wanted to have fun at her own prom and that she shouldn’t have been responsible for making others feel uncomfortable.
If anything, she believed it was the male chaperones who should have been ashamed for singling out one girl and sexualizing her when she wasn’t doing anything wrong. Still, the chaperones’ course of action was to get Ettinger to leave the prom.
Ettinger Claimed She Wasn’t Doing Anything
Ettinger told Mrs. D and the other chaperone that she was hardly dancing in the short time she was there and reminded them that her dress passed the fingertip test. Still, they didn’t seem to care.
"At this point I said to her that I hadn’t been dancing at all! Much less seductively, and that even if I had been being inappropriate, they should issue a warning instead of just kicking me out," Ettinger wrote.
It wouldn’t be long before Mrs. D snapped…
A Friend Tried To Come To Her Defense
Because of what the chaperones had claimed to see and because of Ettinger’s dress, they insisted that she needed to leave the prom. One of Ettinger’s friends came by to vouch for her, but Mrs. D wasn’t having any of it.
Once the friend came by to let the chaperones know that nothing bad was going on, they dismissed her without listening and said that if she didn’t excuse herself, they would kick her out of the prom too.
Ettinger’s Boyfriend Stood Up For Everyone
Ettinger spend so much time away from the prom festivities that her boyfriend grew concerned. When he came over and respectfully asked what was going on, he was told that it was none of his business but that Ettinger was getting kicked out and needed to leave.
Her boyfriend came to her defense, but said if she really had to leave then her friends would too, but not before everyone was refunded the price of their tickets.
Mrs. D Didn’t Want To Hear Them Out
Mrs. D wasn’t moved by the proposition. She told Ettinger’s boyfriend that Ettinger would get a refund but no one else would. The teens tried to reason with Mrs. D, but things only got worse and continued to escalate.
It wasn’t long before Mrs. D snapped. “I will not debate with you about this,” she kept saying over the teens until finally, she sent for another chaperone to go out and get back up.
Some of the adults even sided with Ettinger, but it wouldn’t be enough…
The Final Decision Was To Kick Her Out
That back up came in the form of security, so that Ettinger could get escorted out of the prom. Ettinger demanded to speak to the person in charge of the entire prom committee, but Mrs. D refused.
Ettinger was forced out of her own senior prom and she couldn’t help but feel victimized. She wasn’t doing anything wrong, for one, and when she tried to stand up for herself, she ended up making things worse.
Ettinger Looked More Mature Than Her Peers
Despite the fact that it was Ettinger’s senior prom, the entire event was a prom for home-schooled students in eighth grade and above. Ettinger couldn’t help it that at 17, she had developed into her female body a little sooner than her peers.
It wasn’t fair that she was essentially kicked out because she allegedly made the male chaperones uncomfortable. That only taught her that she was responsible for how men viewed her and she should dress appropriately for their convenience.
The Security Guard Didn’t Think Anything Was Wrong
Clare Ettinger was in tears by the time security was escorting her out of prom. Looking for some sort of solace, Ettinger asked the security guard if he thought that what was happening was fair.
“[He] said he didn’t think I did anything to get kicked out but it wasn’t his call,” Ettinger wrote. “He helped me get my stuff and walked me to the front door, my date was still talking to Mrs. D and demanding our group’s refund.”
The security guard wasn’t the only one who didn’t see the issue…
Ettinger And All Her Friends Were Thrown Out
Defeated, Ettinger and her friends left the prom. Ettinger’s boyfriend was finally told that if everyone just left right away, they would all get their refunds. But to make things worse, when they got to the front of the building, Ettinger was only given her refund.
This made her friends upset because not only did they have to leave for an unfair reason, they were never given the refunds they were promised.
Ettinger Took Her Story To The Internet
After the entire ordeal, Ettinger did what most young people do these days and vented about the sour situation on the Internet. She knew she had a voice and after she had experienced this level of injustice, she felt like her story needed to be told.
After her sister saw her irate post on Facebook, Ettinger was asked to write a blog post about what happened. Finally, Ettinger and her boyfriend decided to film a video explaining things themselves.
The People Stood Up For Ettinger
Many people agreed that what happened to Clare Ettinger was unfair and blown way out of proportion. Some people even found the Richmond Homeschool Prom Facebook page and started standing up for Ettinger.
The administrators of the page would initially delete all the negative comments, but things got so out of hand that eventually the whole entire page was taken down. They didn’t take responsibility for the humiliation they caused for Ettinger.
Ettinger also made a revelation that the chaperones chose to ignore…
Mrs. D Tells A Different Version
Eventually the news became a viral sensation and people all across the country were weighing in. When CBS News got involved, people found that there were two sides to the story.
They interviewed Mrs. D, who said that she didn’t agree with Ettinger’s version of the events. Mrs. D said that while Ettinger’s dress followed the dress code, it kept riding up and at one point fell just below her bum .
Mrs. D Defended The Male Chaperones
Mrs. D also defended the claim that the male chaperones were ogling all the female attendees. She said that there were at least 500 kids at the prom and they were just trying to keep an eye on everyone.
Mrs. D doesn’t believe that the male chaperones were ogling Ettinger, a statement that still upset a lot of people. How could she come to their defense when she initially told Ettinger a male chaperone was uncomfortable?
Ettinger Claims There Were Worse Things Going On
Ettinger also later claimed that while she wasn’t doing anything wrong, there were certainly other kids in attendance who were. There were some couples who were dancing too suggestively and some were even making out!
Ettinger didn’t think it was fair that all of this was going on, yet still, she was the only one kicked out of the prom. There were even people who corroborated Ettinger’s side of the story.
Who Was Right In This Situation?
Another student who was interviewed agreed with Ettinger and said that there were definitely other kids who were doing inappropriate things. However, that student also claims that she did see Ettinger dancing suggestively with her boyfriend at one point.
Regardless of what happened, Ettinger was still singled out and felt that what happened to her was unfair. She decided to share her story for all the girls who might be accused of something they’re not doing because of how they look.
Next, read about some other young women who were kicked out of their proms because of their outfits. Do you agree with the schools’ decisions?
Was She Discriminated Against Because Of Her Size?
Alexus Miller-Wigfall of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania was about to attend her prom in the dress of her dreams. She and her mom had the dress custom made by a seamstress and Alexus’s mom, aware of the dress code, even added long sleeves to the design and decided against a leg-slit.
Everything was fine at Sci Tech Harrisburg High School’s prom and the school superintendent even complimented her on her dress. But when she returned to school the next week, she was suspended.
They Told Her She Had “More To Show”
Alexus had a wonderful time at her prom in her custom-made dress, but not everyone on the high school’s staff was pleased. When Alexus returned to school after prom, she was given a suspension because her dress was “too revealing!”
The assistant principal told Alexus that she had “more to show” than other girls, but Alexus and her mom believe that she was discriminated against because she is plus-size! Not only was Alexus’s permanent record botched, but it was all because she was body shamed.
She Had Her Dress Fixed To Follow The Dress Code
Gabi Finalyson, a high schooler in Utah, had to dance the night away in her winter coat during her prom. Gabi found the perfect dress in Paris that reminded her of her idol, Audrey Hepburn.
The dress code insisted that the dress straps be at least 2 inches wide and that her back wasn’t exposed “beyond the bottom of the shoulder blades.” Her dress covered everything it needed to, but Gabi was still told to cover up.
Gabi Had The Best Response
Gabi was only 15 when this happened to her, but she proved she was wise beyond her years. In response to being told to cover up, Gabi said, “Maybe instead of teaching girls that they should cover themselves up, we should be teaching boys that we’re not sex objects that they can look at.”
Gabi and her mother had many questions from this incident, including why shoulders are viewed as if they’re “somehow pornographic.”
Was She Discriminated Against For Being Herself?
Not every girl is a girly girl and sometimes they just want to wear pants. There’s totally nothing wrong with that, but apparently, the school administrators at Cherryville High School in North Carolina think so.
Shafer Rupard wore exactly what made her feel confident and comfortable for her senior prom. That included a leather jacket, a hat, and some red skinny jeans. Rupard’s mother said, “It’s just the way she’s always been and she wanted to be comfortable in her own skin.”
She Wasn’t Even Breaking A Dress Code
When Rupard arrived at her senior prom, she was immediately approached by a teacher and asked to leave. The teacher had a problem with what Rupard was wearing. “I thought it was because of the hat or the leather jacket and I was like well I’ll take those off and she was like no, it’s the pants,” Rupard told her local news.
Rupard and her mother said there was no dress code put forth by the school and though they agreed, the school failed to apologize.