Young Lady Booted From Prom After Volunteers Were Forced To Intervene



Every teenager looks forward to their prom night. It’s the biggest night of one’s high school years. But for this young lady, Clare Ettinger, the special event would be ruined by unforeseen circumstances…

Twilight in Paris


Clare and her boyfriend, James, had been waiting for their prom night for months. The school dance was themed “Twilight in Paris” and was sure to be a night they would never forget.

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The Perfect Dress


Like most young women her age, Clare was set on finding the perfect dress for her big night. After trying on dozens of options, she settled on a glittering, silver dress from Macy’s. She felt like a princess, but would the night have a fairytale ending?

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The Test


Calre loved the gorgeous dress but it would have to pass one special test in order to be deemed appropriate by her school: the fingertip test. She relaxed her arms and let them fall to her sides, the dress needed to be longer than her fingertips. She dreaded spending her saved pocket money on an outfit that wouldn’t pass her school’s rigid dress code.

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What a Relief


To Clare’s utter relief, the dress extended just past the end of her long fingertips. She felt sure the dress adhered to her school’s strict dress code. Little did she know her choice of outfit would cause a stir that would ultimately ruin her big night.

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Sharing With Her Friends


Like many of her excited girlfriends, Clare shared pictures of her dress online. She shared a few photos of herself wearing her lovely dress, writing later that she was “channeling [her] inner Marilyn Monroe.” Before the big purchase, she had once again checked the length of the skirt – she was sure it would fine. Right?

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Not Taking Chances


She hurried home to try on the dress with her chosen pair of high heels. She donned the dress again, twirling in front of her bedroom mirror. She did one last fingertip test in her heels – just to make sure. Because of the height of the heels, the dress seemed just a little bit shorter. It was such a special night, yet she was adamant she would pass the test if a chaperone asked her to check the length of the skirt on the big night.

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Confronted at the Prom


Clare was filled with excited anticipation. Her and James could not wait to join their friends, to dance and celebrate the end of their high school years. She didn’t think in a million years, her dress would cause such a catastrophe. How would it all unfold?

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Not Budging


They arrived at the dance and Clare was promptly approached by one of the school’s volunteers, Ann Duncan. After checking the length of the dress, Duncan was unimpressed. She believed that Clare’s dress was simply too short for the dress code. Clare was devastated. She tried to explain that she had long legs that made the dress appear shorter than it was but Duncan would not be convinced.

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Passing the Test Again


Clare was determined that this would not keep her from enjoying her prom. She did the fingertip test, letting her fingertips brush the hem of her skirt although both she and Mrs. Duncan could tell that it was a close call.

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Keeping A Watching Eye


Mrs. Duncan was a strict chaperone. She told Clare to make sure that the dress “stays pulled down,” again saying that she believed it was too short. Duncan kept a close eye on Clare, making sure the hem of her skirt didn’t ride up to reveal more of the teenager’s thighs.

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Double Standard


Clare looked around the room at the other girls’ dresses. There were many who wore dresses that were even shorter than Clare’s. The other high schoolers had shorter legs so their dresses did appear to be longer. She was upset and scared that Duncan would approach her again. She also noticed something else very strange.

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Awkward Experience


Clare and her boyfriend James agreed that the dance’s atmosphere was awkward and strained. This was supposed to be a celebratory, fun night but the presence of so many chaperones made the dance feel tense. The many teenager’s were hesitant to enjoy themselves on the dance floor. Many chaperones, including adult men, were up on the balcony above, staring down at the young dancers who were trying to have a good time.

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Inappropriate?


While most of the controversy that would unfold revolved around Clare’s dress, Clare and her female friends were more concerned with the presence of the adult male chaperones. It seemed inappropriate that these adult men were there to leer at teenage girls. Clare said that she and her friends felt “violated” by how many male parents were assigned the duty of spying on them from the balcony.

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Worrysome Thoughts


Clare was just beginning to enjoy herself when Mrs Duncan returned and pulled her to the side of the dance floor. The many adult males in the room had been watching Clare closely. Duncan explained that the chaperones believed that Clare’s dancing and her dress were too provocative, that her behavior and attire may lead others in attendance to think “impure thoughts.”

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Who’s Taking Responsibility?


In a statement after the prom, Clare expressed her discomfort and disgust at the chaperone’s behavior. She was a young girl trying to have fun at her prom, it was not her responsibility to ensure that the adult male chaperones were comfortable. Clare believed that it was the volunteer fathers that should have been ashamed for sexualizing a young female student.

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Something Feels Wrong


Clare was not the only girl who felt uncomfortable and humiliated by the presence and gaze of the many adult male chaperones in the room. There were so many men watching these young girls from the sidelines. Why should Clare be penalized for their inappropriate thoughts? The situation was unfair: she was a scapegoat.

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War of Words


Clare was a strong-willed individual who knew her rights and stood by her opinion. C;are told Mrs Duncan that her dress passed the fingertip test, that her dancing was not at all inappropriate and that she was just trying to enjoy herself without the criticism of strange adult men. Mrs Duncan became angered and persistent. Clare’s boyfriend James, knew he would have to step in.

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Demanding Refunds


Clare’s boyfriend wanted clarification that Clare was in fact going to be kicked out of her own prom. If that was the case, he demanded that he and Clare would receive refunds for their tickets. Clare was devastated and frustrated. She could not believe that her special night was about to be ruined.

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Heating Up


The argument became more and more heated. Mrs Duncan would not back down and did not take kindly to having her authority challenged. James demanded to speak to the manager of the entire event. Things were getting out of hand. Another chaperone was called in to discuss the issue.

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Who Is Right?


After much back and forth, other chaperones and Clare’s friends stepped in to calm down the two angered women. A conclusion was reached, but someone would be left unhappy by the result of the heated argument. This was the final straw.

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Escorted Out


In the end, the young high schooler was escorted out of her prom by security. Clare was humiliated and heartbroken that her night had ended in disaster. The adult male chaperones had singled her out because she was a fully developed woman wearing a pretty dress. She felt unfairly treated and distraught.

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Another Point of View


With tears streaming down her face, Clare asked the security guard if he thought the decision was just and right. He said that he didn’t think she should have to be kicked out, but it wasn’t his decision to make. To add insult to injury, only Clare received a refund and the rest of her group of friends never got their entry fees returned.

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Getting the Word Out


Decades ago, a female student who had been treated so unkindly would not have had the platform to have her story heard, but Clare took to the internet to share the incident. She decided to seek out girls who experienced similar treatment, to discuss whether this kind of treatment of young girls should be allowed.

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Raising a Ruckus


Clare got her story out there and thousands of people responded to share their opinions. The power of social media was in full swing, many appalled parents and students took to the Richmond Homeschool Prom’s Facebook page to give their thoughts on what happened. The school administrators quickly deleted all the outraged comments and eventually took down the entire page itself.

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Creating Conversation


Overnight, Clare’s story had spurred a nation-wide debate. Many believed that Clare was unjustly discriminated against and should take her case to court. Clare stated again that she felt violated and “ostracized” during the altercation. However, Mrs. Duncan had her own views to share with the media.

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Mrs. Duncan’s Side of the Story


Mrs. Duncan stood by her actions and defended her fellow male chaperones. She pointed out that although the dress had just been long enough when Clare arrived, the tight fabric kept riding up higher and higher on her legs. She said that the male chaperones were not ogling Clare and the other girls, they were just trying to keep the festivities of 500 high school kids under control.

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Discriminated Against


Clare claimed that after she was escorted out her friends saw a number of student couples engaging in “truly dirty dancing.” She said she was also told that couples were even making out on the dance floor. Why had she been the only student to receive such harsh treatment?

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No Shaming


Clare tearfully shared that she felt she was being publicly shamed for having a more mature body than the other girls in attendance. She said that it was not her fault that the male adults in the room felt uncomfortable or were lusting after her. “Maybe you’re part of the problem,” said Clare.

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No Communication


After Clare’s story went viral, the high schooler garnered a lot of support online through various social media platforms. Despite the media coverage, there was one group who never never reached out to her: the Richmond Homeschool Prom officials or chaperones.

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Making a Stand


Clare hopes that her story will help to make a difference for other girls in similar positions. She says that her story is an example of the unfair treatment and sexualization of young girls. Women should not be punished for the actions of others in response to their bodies. Clare believes that dress codes are outdated. In the 21st century, should women’s bodies be policed?

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Who’s to Blame?


The incident sheds light on many precarious issues. Is it a young girl’s fault if grown adults feel that her dress is inappropriate, or is it the adult’s fault for viewing a teen’s dress through that lens? Are young girls being unwillingly sexualized too young? What can parents and school officials do to deal with these pressing issues? The discussion continues…

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Viral Sensation


Clare’s story made headlines around the world encouraging a conversation around the treatment of young women. Times are changing and with the advent of social media, many young people, especially young women, are voicing their stories of injustice and sexism. We have yet to see if Clare’s story will change the discussion around the policing of young women’s bodies.

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