Viral dresses have become a routine part of prom season, but one teen’s gown is gaining attention for making a stance like no other.
Milan Bolden-Morris, 17, used her mermaid-style prom dress to pay homage to the Black Lives Matter movement on Friday. The train of the gown features the faces of men, women and children whose lives were taken as a result of encounters with law enforcement, including Michael Brown, Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, Sandra Bland, John Crawford III, Freddie Gray and Tamir Rice. A photo of Trayvon Martin, who was gunned down by a neighborhood watchman, is featured prominently on the front of the gown before the train begins.
The senior high school student commissioned fashion designer and family friend Terrence Torrence to make the dress. Torrence told BuzzFeed News that he was inspired to create the gown in 2016, but it didn’t become a reality until Bolden-Morris spoke with the designer about his vision. Torrence said that it took him three days to make the dress.
Torrence told Essence that finishing the dress was “powerful.” He added: “It was art. It was surreal. It spoke volumes.”
The teen posted a few photos of her gown on Instagram on Saturday and Sunday.
"Yes I’m black. Yes I’m 17. Yes GOD is using me to convey a message that’s bigger than me,” the Palm Beach, Florida, teen captioned one photo.
Since Saturday, Bolden-Morris’ prom photos have gotten nearly 20,000 likes combined and it has been reposted on numerous Instagram pages, including that of Snoop Dogg. One of the biggest praises, Bolden-Morris said, was Martin’s mother, Sabrina Fulton, reaching out to her and saying she was “proud of how bold” she was.
Bolden-Morris, who was named the Palm Beach Post’s Small School Girls Player of the Year in March, will be continuing her education at Boston College on a full-ride basketball scholarship in the fall.