Whether through strict and oppressive dress codes and vague hair rules in our schools, it’s not a secret that Black girls’ bodies are constantly policed. But it’s even more jarring when Black women are the ones doing the policing.
Case in point: A Shreveport, Lousiana, principal, Kim Pendleton, is under fire for demanding that all female students going to prom send her pictures of their dress for her final approval.
According to KTAL News, last Tuesday (March 3), Southwood High School’s newly hired principal sent a lengthy text to her cisgender and transgender female students about the prom’s dress code and that she has to approve all dresses BEFORE they were purchased.
“As you begin shopping for your attire, please make sure you do not purchase any clothes that are sheer or revealing in any manner,” wrote Pendleton.
Adding, “Also, make sure we do not see excess cleavage or skin. Prior to purchasing an outfit, I will need you to send me a picture of you in the outfit with your name and grade. Once I approve the outfit, you may purchase it. The approved outfit is the only one you will be allowed to wear to prom.”
Not surprisingly, the male students weren’t sent anything about their potential prom attire, but there was a mention of how their female dates that weren’t students at the school still had to follow these rules.
While news of the dress code sparked a lot of social media chatter, Pendelton doubled down in a statement to NBC News, stressing that this was a result of faculty complaining about the dresses students have worn in the past.
“In communicating the guidelines for appropriate conduct and dress, which are similar to what schools and districts require across the country, a decision was made to proactively work with families to ensure parents would not spend money on a dress which would be turned away for being inappropriate,” the statement said.
She also shared that parents “who are proud of the school for taking a stand to ensure prom is an encouraging, wholesome event” and that she has gotten positive feedback.
One of her supporters is Albert Bryant, whose granddaughter attends Southwood High School. He told KTAL, “I can understand because there are some young ladies that are raising themselves more or less and they can get a little bit provocative.
However, according to KTAL, despite Pendelton’s claims of support, on Friday (March 6) after meeting with her, the Caddo Parish Public Schools overturned the rule.
In a statement issued on Friday, they said “it is no longer a requirement for students to have preapproval for their formal dress prior to prom. Any student and parent who may have doubts are welcome to send in their photo or show the dress in person.”
Pendelton has yet to comment on the change.
BEAUTIES: What do you think? Should a principal have the power to approve their students’ prom attire?