Prom Dress Facebook Group Promotes Sexism

by: Sohini Ashoke

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“I can’t believe she’s wearing the same dress as me.”

For most of my life, I’ve witnessed the notion that women’s outfits must be exclusive in order to be perceived as beautiful, rein- forced by countless movies, TV shows and even in my own life. Take the Gunn Prom Dress Face- book group, for example. When I was first added to this group in my junior year, I believed that it was intended for Gunn students to see their friends’ prom dresses and leave positive comments. However, the first post I saw was by a senior who explained in the caption that she didn’t want anyone else to wear the dress that she was planning on wearing. At first, I was a bit shocked—how is it anyone’s place to say what someone can and can’t wear? I was slightly offended, but shrugged it off and moved on.

After seeing about three more of these posts, though, I started to wonder if this was the group’s purpose. Not only did I feel it was unfair to claim a dress that any person has the right to wear, but this behavior was downright sexist, and I realized it stems from the ridiculous expectation that women need to look fancy, put-together and unique in order to be considered beautiful. At events like prom, men are rarely judged on how they look and are never ridiculed for wearing the same suit as another man. This is true even in other environments. For example, in the 2016 Presidential Election, there was unnecessary media discussion around Hillary Clinton’s outfits, but rarely about her opponent’s. Women are held to a standard of individuality because of a subtle yet prevalent belief that their beauty will be compared to another girl’s who is wearing the same outfit as them.

This notion is a microcosm of a broader societal problem among women—the assumption that when women are faced with conflict between each other they resort to catty, passive-aggressive and competitive behavior. This stereotype is perpetuated through various types of media, especially TV and some “chick flick” movies. Rarely in pop culture are women portrayed as being diplomatic or even civil when faced with a problem with another woman.

Instead of uplifting and supporting other women, girls are taught that they must be in competition with others on who looks more beautiful, reaffirming the sexist idea that another woman’s beauty is the absence of your own.

Currently, the Gunn Prom Dress Facebook group is allowing non-inclusivity to be spread through a continuation of these kinds of isolating posts. This conviction needs to be terminated and replaced with a positive and supportive outlook towards women’s fashion. Instead of viewing prom as a competitive fashion show, girls should focus on building each other up and using the night to have a good time!

—Ashoke, a senior, is a News Editor.