Teen arrested for prom dress – no, really

Ah, good ole Texas. Always a great place for scandals like this one. So here’s what happened: A senior named Marche Taylor wore a really skimpy dress and was denied entrance to her prom based on it. And yes, it is really, really skimpy. So I get where the prom sponsor was coming from when she told Marche that her dress was too skimpy. But Marche offered to wind her train up and around her torso – and that really should have made it okay. Instead, “voices were raised” and the cops were called and escorted this loud, scantily clad girl off the Sugarland Marriott premises. Honestly, I don’t see what the big freaking deal is.

So here’s where the conversation about this one random girl near Houston, the stinky armpit of Texas, turns into a conversation about the state of our country’s obsession with adolescent bodies and adolescent sexuality. In fact, I wonder if this is even news worthy just because of the recent Miley Cyrus fiasco? Or maybe it’s because silly things like this suddenly go viral on the Internet and out of nowhere everyone knows who Marche Taylor is and that her prom sponsor accused her of not wearing underwear to her prom (Marche says she was).

But really, I think people pay attention to things like this because they get to look at a teenage girl’s body. We are, as a culture, both obsessed and repelled by teenage girls ‘bodies. We want them to be shown off and considered sexy in the right ways (like your standard prom dress or a bikini on the beach) but not in the wrong ways (like Marche or Miley). But teenage girls are never really given a good, solid list of guidelines and what’s appropriate can change far too quickly for the average teenage girl to be expected to keep up.

Let’s get back to that liking to look at teenage girls’ bodies. When we see a news show, or read a blog post (unless it’s this one), or read a newspaper article about a scantily clad 17 year old, the man – the publisher – knows that eyeballs will be had in great droves because people like to look at 17 year old’s bodies. And I’m fed up with it.

As a society, we honor and love youth – particularly the fabulous body part of youth.

But then at the same time we slam (a) a teenager’s too-sexy choice in photo arrangements or (b) a teenager’s too-sexy choice in prom dress.

We can’t do both, folks. It just screws with girl’s minds and makes them obsess at a highly unhealthy level about their body – because they’ll either be considered stodgy and not sexy enough or too slutty and too sexy. The middle ground is a very, very narrow tightrope. So let’s all just breathe. And stop it with the obsession about teenager’s bodies.

About Karen Rayne

Dr. Karen Rayne has been supporting parents and families since 2007 when she received her PhD in Educational Psychology. A specialist in child wellbeing, Dr. Rayne has spent much of her career supporting parents, teachers, and other adults who care for children and teenagers.

6 Comments

  1. You are courageous for making the point that you made today about teen girls’ bodies. Thanks for laying it right on the line…while I know this, your words have reminded me again how crazy-making our society is towards young women and teenagers in general.

  2. Thank you for posting this. I agree that the double-standard and confusing messages need to stop. Or how about we, as a culture, just stop obsessing so much about teenage girls’ bodies (and wanting our 30+ year old mom bodies to look like them)? It’s ridiculous.

  3. “While telling her not to be so smart, we put her down for being so dumb….” –John Lennon

  4. While I agree, I can’t help but cringe at the girl’s choices. Not the dress, but her decision to escalate the argument to the point where she ended up arrested.

  5. I know Robert – but teens have to try out different things to figure out life. The adults were just as responsible for the escalation and they are not supposed to still be figuring this out – especially when they are the sponsors for a teen event. They are supposed to know how to de-escalate rather than have a power struggle, especially if the teen offered a solution that was workable (I haven’t read more on the incident than Dr Rayne gave, so my information is that she did!).

  6. Oh goodness, people always seem to make a lot out of nothing. I agree the dress was kind of inappropriate but they should have at least given her money back I mean come on that is like adding salt to the wound. Not fair, nice post though!

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