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Prom Dresses: Should Schools Be Cracking Down On Scandalous Formalwear?

The Huffington Post  |  By Posted: 04/ 5/2012 3:54 pm Updated: 04/12/2012 10:42 am

Prom Dresses

The dress code debate is as old as the tradition of prom itself. As high school girls across the country embark on the hunt for the perfect dress, parents and schools are on a mission to ban dresses deemed "inappropriate" from school-funded events. And with the 2012 prom trend forecasts featuring more scandalous dresses than ever before, the national prom-dress debate has intensified.

Many prom dress retailers have been selling increasingly skimpy dresses, as current trends dictate. The popular site promgirl.com, for instance, features a selection of gowns with cut-out backs, sides and midriffs, cleavage-baring tops, sheer materials, and slits that reach the upper thigh.

Buzzfeed's Hillary Reinsberg recently wrote a piece documenting this season's trend of "less fabric, more skin." As Reisenberg notes, many experts lay the blame on reality shows like "Dancing With The Stars" and celebrities' skin-baring red-carpet dresses, which they believe to be dictating the current prom trends.

Catherine Moellering, prom trend tracker and executive vice president of ToBe Report, explained to Buzzfeed: "This whole idea of the red-carpet obsession and getting dressed up is at the forefront of our culture. "The idea that [award show] coverage comes on TV three hours before the show even starts -- that's something new."

While legions of teen girls say 'yes' to these skimpy dresses like the ones they see on their favorite celebrities, schools across the country say no to low-cut necklines, bare backs and short skirts. With tops plunging lower and slits getting higher, many high schools are choosing to enforce prom dress codes and bar students with overly-revealing dresses from the dance. According to Fox4 Kansas City, one school outside of Oklahoma City's prom dress code features a full 12 pages of restrictions.

And it's not just schools that are concerned -- many parents are also laying down the law when it comes to promwear. Often, girls who work and have their own income are able to buy dresses without parental approval because they're not purchasing it on mom or dad's credit card.

One mother of a high school senior said that parents should step in before their daughters leave the house in body-baring dresses. She told My Fox Phoenix: I'd just say no, that's my job as a mom to say you don't want to look like that, I'll help you find something else."

But some teens are insisting that they do want to look like that, claiming that prom is the one night of year when students should be exempt from such school dress codes. An editorial published in the Daily Wildcat, University of Arizona's student newspaper, reinforced the link between celebrity fashion and prom dress trends. However, reporter Cheryl Gamachi argued that female students should have the freedom to dress however they want on their big night. She contends:

Students should be free to look as glamorous as they want because they're not during school hours and it's only for one night. It's the one time where students can show off their style in a sophisticated fashion, have fun while looking like celebrities and take pictures all night. A dress code on prom night is unacceptable.

So, what do you think: Should prom-going seniors have the freedom to dress as the please -- or are schools right to be cracking down on revealing formalwear? Share your thoughts in the comments below or tweet @HuffPostTeen.

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