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Strapless Dresses Banned at Middle School Dance

New Jersey School Bans Strapless Dresses at Dance

Parents in Readingtown Township, NJ, are outraged by a recent ban on strapless dresses from the local middle school's upcoming eighth-grade dance. As USA Today reports, in response to objections from parents, many of whom have already purchased strapless dresses for their daughters, Principal Sharon Moffat explained that without straps, dresses sometimes slip down while the wearer is dancing. She also told parents that the style is "distracting" to boys.

One upset mom, Charlotte Nijenhuis, has written to school superintendent Barbara Sargent to complain about the ban in general and about this rationale in particular, "because it suggests that boys are not able to control — or ought not to be required to control — their behavior when in the presence of girls wearing strapless dresses."

Would you buy your daughter a strapless dress for a school dance?

Source: Shutterstock
VasyaRudakova VasyaRudakova 4 years
( I have tried with some outside translation help to make this readable, my apologies if the grammar is less than worthy. Besides being dyslexic, I am Ukrainian and don't often need to write in English) How typically Prudish and puritanical of Americans. My golly, it is a DRESS not as though the girl was wearing only her panties to the dance! What's all the hoopla about? a strapless dress is a classic style, and it ONLY becomes "distracting" to ANYONE if it is fitted poorly, or has been done so with deliberation. All you nasty minded folks need to get a life! All the talk about "growing up too fast", it amazes me, my mother AND grandmother. A person will advance their own personality based on their sum total of life experiences. you can no more control it than you can TIME itself. THINGS HAPPEN, we grow, evolve and hopefully LEARN,, this is a natural process. WHAT about the GIRL wearing the dress, if her dress distracts her mother, father or brother or date is not the issue, I'd think the concern is, or should be, does SHE feel nice in it. Does she feel it makes her look her best? I doubt too many of those girls really give a big rats' meow about what a BOY thinks at the ages indicated being involved in this dance..
CyndiAgnew CyndiAgnew 4 years
Why are we having Prom in 8th grade?
MicheleForton MicheleForton 4 years
I don't completely disagree with the school. I'm sure the school has a clothing policy that doesn't allow strapless anything during the regular school year, so I wouldn't think that they would allow them during a dance either. As a parent, I would not allow my 8th grade or younger daughter to wear a strapless dress to school or to a dance. Maybe I'm old fashioned but I believe that it is inappropriate wear for school at that age. Young girls are growing too fast and are becoming older at a younger age than they should and honestly it has a lot to do with they way parents are raising their children in today's fast growing society.
Liza14440621 Liza14440621 4 years
This is crazy because parents are talking about a strapless dress instead of worrying about strapless dresses when they should talk about how short a dress is, but really there are stuff meaningful in the world that matters.
Liza14440621 Liza14440621 4 years
This is crazy because your dress insted of worrying about strapless dresses, when they should talk about how short aa dress is, but really there are stuff meaningful in the world that matters.
Paula14440367 Paula14440367 4 years
1) The principal's comment was poorly worded. 2) With all the problems facing education in this country, this is what some parents have decided is a cause worthy of falling on their swords over? Worthy of trying to garner support from the community? Worthy of taking up school board time and resources? Worthy of contacting the press? What absolute IDIOTS!
CoMMember13631189244843 CoMMember13631189244843 4 years
I can't believe this issue is generating so much heat. You'd think all these girls were fighting cancer. Or homelessness, or poverty, or standing in soup lines. Every school has homeless girls who'd love to have a dress for a dance, and these parents are ready to declare war because their daughters can't show some skin. Really people.
TheLovelyDreams TheLovelyDreams 4 years
I remember when I was in Middle School and wanted so badly that gorgeous strapless tutu dress. I feel as if this ban is illogical. Girls want to feel like princess and it gets hot at dances! Schools are filled with sweating boys and girls from dancing. Girls would eventually take off the cardigan that their worried parents gave them before being sent off to a dance. They should be more worried about the length of the dress rather than if it has little spaghetti straps (you can barely see though things!). If you are worried about your child "growing up too fast" then make sure they are wearing a longer dress! A dress that is almost showing their underwear is what can "drive a boy crazy." Strapless dresses are more flattering on some girls than other dresses. I would have hated to arrive at my dance with straps that made my armpit flab bulge out. Boys are more scared of you than you are of them. They have to gather so much courage to even look at a girl! They will be too busy goofing off with their guy friends and if they have girlfriends (which is ridiculous for a middle schooler) they will be dancing with them. Teachers should be focusing on the dancing, the length of the dress, who is going in and out, and the behavior of the children. Straps are the least of our worries.
GrandmaO GrandmaO 4 years
I agree with the principle. You are discussing a Middle School and people have to remember that our kids will grow up fast enough without pushing them forward. Let the girls have the pretty party dress but age appropriate. Young girls will be more comforable in a dress with straps even if they won't admit it. I would suggest to purchase some beading or ribbon at your local fabric store and make some straps for the dresses already purchased.
BelindaLubin BelindaLubin 4 years
I wasn't allowed to wear strapless dresses when I was in middle school. I wouldn't allow my daughter to wear strapless dresses in middle school. My high school dress code didn't allow us to wear strapless dresses. I don't understand why parents are getting upset that their child's school wants the kids to be covered. It's really as simple as just getting a shawl or cardigan or shrug to cover her shoulders. And I think it's completely unfair to blame this on the boys.
StaciRoberts1367188774 StaciRoberts1367188774 4 years
Why are so many of you so eager to have your children grow up so fast? They do not need to wear strapless prom dresses in Middle School. Slow down, enjoy their tween years. Why are parents pushing for more grown up clothes? Every little girl wants to be older than they are, but aren't we as parents supposed to not let them grow up too fast? I don't think many parents look back at their children's childhood and think, "I wish that had gone faster." To quote my favorite bumper sticker: It's a journey, not a race.
VirginiaLouiseArias VirginiaLouiseArias 4 years
I would allow my middle school or younger daughter to wear a strapless dress only if they wore a cardigan or similar attire over the dress! This, I believe is a parent by parent basis. I work with middle school students and feel they should be dressing more age appropriate. There should be NO cleavage shown in school, PERIOD! No spaghetti strap shirts. "Some" girls are dressing beyond there years and this scares me. Parents need to be wise enough to make these decisions! If they are not, maybe then school representatives can step in!? DRESS APPROPRIATELY!
RoxanneCottell RoxanneCottell 4 years
I need to clarify about the "grab her the wrong way" is NO WAY to grab ANYONE the right or wrong way....*edited...sorta*
RoxanneCottell RoxanneCottell 4 years
I would buy my daughter a strapless dress if I knew she would wear it, but the neighborhood where we live, the bigger issue is NOT what the girls are wearing but that girls, culturally, have no real rights as humans, let alone much else. I do not agree with this person who exacted this ban on the dresses. I would like to invite her to recall what she wanted when she was a girl, and I am guaranteeing that the thought in her head was of that one little boy who she had a huge crush on. To pin the issue on boys is to not look at the issue in reality, and the issue in reality is that TOO MANY school administrators are more inclined to assume that we parents did not teach our sons to be proper gentlemen and that they are too inclined as well to blame a boy, meaning that they are also blaming the parents of said boy(s) on poor parenting. This offends me. I have two wonderful sons who live in a school district where the high school my daughter attends has a day care center. The thing about this is that the issues are NOT societal only, and what she really needs to address is the idea that the boys gawking at girls at any age is a BIOLOGICAL one and NOT one that she can control. Punishing these little people in order to feel more in control is a huge problem in our country. To not look at what is really the issue - that we need to turn off the television, the youtube, and what have you, and begin to talk frankly with our kids is one thing, but to place a ban on something that is like a rite of passage is a completely different thing altogether. I am terribly amiss at the idea that this stupid administrator seems to think that she can do a better job at calling the shots at what is OUR decision to make. It is because of unenlightened school administrative officials making foolish...ignorant...biased and even BIGOTED decisions that our country is in the shape that it is. Boys have feelings, too, and when someone like this chooses to basically say that they have no self-control, that is an issue that stems back to this moron's own childhood. Part of me wants to send her a letter and ask her what boy tried to grab her the way that she assumes we have not taught our boys is the wrong way, and the other part of me wants to tell her that SHE is who is objectifying our daughters while the boys are just simply and only being boys. They are going to look, strapless dress or not, and the time is NOW for all of us parents all OVER THE COUNTRY to take back the reigns from these people who are infecting our children with their own thoughts about what is and what is not acceptable. To punish our boys for being boys is one thing, but to make the assumption, as well, that we MOMS have not taught our daughters to speak up ...yeah...makes this feminist community activist and rockin' reverend NOT very happy at ALL ! I have taught my younger sister and her friends, as well as my daughter and her friends, that they are not what this world thinks they are. As a community activist, I make it known to the administrators at the school that these young ladies attend that more needs to be done so as to allow them their creative nature that does NOT lend more credence to procreation. I let these people know that there is more to them than meets the eyes, that they are beautiful and wonderful, and that yes, boys love to look at them, but also remind them that they are also human beings with the ability to create art, to think freely and to Love themselves. The reason behind all of this sort of thinking is a collective idea that our boys are pigs in training, our girls are too weak and ridiculously stupid to make their own decisions about what is right and proper, and the reality is that, just like the collective violent nature that we are witness to each day is made that way starting at home, so, too, is the idea that girls are meant to be fondled and that it is because boys cannot control themselves. Really? I beg to differ. Instead of taking the stance that she is taking, she needs to take a look at the whole picture and see where her own upbringing is influencing her. She is making our kids become what it is that she is trying to avoid, if what she is trying to avoid is teen pregnancy. However, my truth in thinking, and this IS coming from ALL SIDES of me, is that this person is placing onto those kids and their parents what SHE would have done were SHE that teen girl and those the boys that SHE would encounter, leaving nothing in the way of parental authority that is NOT punitive. Because it may be that she was raised as many people in my generation were - "fix" the "problem" with the nasty boys and bully the girls into conformity, so, too, is her judgment clouded by such nonsense. It is my hope that these parents are very offended enough to take it further, to make it known that her opinion of these children and their parents is off - WAY OFF, and that she is, through her own ignorance, perpetuating what it is that she is so dearly worried about. And I tell you this much, She IS worried that people are watching her, and she IS worried about being judged, not only by her peers but also the strangers who she has obviously never bothered to really get to know...those strangers would be the parents and those children who attend the school she wields her hollow sword of power at. The truth is that she can bully anyone into anything, but she cannot bully biology. If boys are going to be boys, and girls are going to be girls, and parents are going to be parents, and she is going to be ignorant, then this is how it will be, at least from her perspective. It takes so little to ask kids what they are thinking, and less to get to know the people who she is appointed to serve. She is doing a very poor job, not only at her job, but more, at serving her community the best way she can. If she is worried about dresses falling down, I can only imagine what other things she is worried about and why she is worrying about it. She needs to stop making the parents and kids pay for sins they have not committed and take a good long look at why she feels this way. I know this is the truth because this is what I do everyday - I make it a point to ask school officials, yes, in my professional capacity as a community spiritual leader, why they think it is that what happens in their schools happens, and always, it is because the kids were being kids and the parents were being parents and well...yup...officials were being officials, but they were being anything but educators.... Thank you for reading Rev. Roxanne K. Cottell The Sisterhood of The Soul of Southern California
MaryEllenMcCauley MaryEllenMcCauley 4 years
I think it's a little rediculas to think that this ban will keep the boys from being distracted by the girls. in some cases it wouldn't matter what a girl wore boys will be attracted to them. I think it should be up to the parents to help the girls make the decision as to what to wear. As for me my daughter is 14 and we just purchased her a stappless dress for grad...does this make me a bad mother ? My daughter is not overly endowed so there is no abundance of cleavage showing I think we need to be teaching our girls how to dress for thier own body shapes. Is banning stapless dresses going to keep them from wearing a dress that is too short or revealing in other ways ....not likely. I say leave it up to the girls parents to decide what is appropriate to wear.
AnneRogers1363424157 AnneRogers1363424157 4 years
Good grief! As the mother of two teen-aged boys, I can tell you confidently that no matter how honorable he is...every boy struggles, at least occasionally, to control his thoughts about girls and their changing bodies. Maybe he hides it well, maybe he behaves like a perfect gentleman, and maybe he doesn't, but guys are visual so what girls are wearing (and how they're wearing it) really makes a difference. I'm not saying that girls should wear veils and cover wrists and ankles - NOT AT ALL - I'm just saying that a dress that has so much potential for a "wardrobe malfunction" is probably not appropriate for a junior high dance. Strapless gowns are meant to be elegant and lovely - two things that most junior high girls are not. Lets face it, many of them still flail around generally unaware of their bodies regardless of what they are wearing. Why not save these kinds of dresses for later when they have developed some poise and grace?
Jennifer14435613 Jennifer14435613 4 years
I don't usually comment and I will try not to offend anyone, not that I am concerned about others opinion of me, but to be respectful of your opinions. I am a step mother who helped raise two girls & one boy since they were 7 & 11 y/o. Our son at age 16 and the girls at ages 14 and 18 came to be ours 100% and are now 17 & 21 and I am very thankful that God blessed me with them. When I met them they seemed to feel awkward and lacked self confidence. We taught them about self esteem and being proud of their accomplishments, not how many dates they had or how popular they were by showing off skin or succumbing to peer pressure. We also taught our son to respect girls!! I love and treasure them and am thankful every day for the young women and man we have raised. First, the school should have announced the rules applying to the dance at the beginning of the year when parents attend Back to School night at the beginning of the year! Our school sets the rules then and sticks by their choices for the year. I'm sure the situation would not have gotten this much publicity or aroused so much animosity. Secondly, we have shopped for all of their dresses and there are many more provocative ways to wear a dress than showing your shoulders!!!! Face reality: low cut, back out, short skirts..... all have "STRAPS"! I have seen girls in shorts/skirts/dresses that show their "cheeks" that make me nauseated and I think that they are absolutely inappropriate!! I have witnessed girls "climbing all over the boys" for acceptance and attention. I have also spoken to school employees that witness girls "hanging on the boys and seem to be more aggressive" and it has gotten out of hand. Wake up people! We do not only have to worry about the boys, we have to be responsible for our girls behavior not only the clothes she wears. I think that longer strapless can be elegant and your daughter may feel confident and proud instead of "sexy". This is where parenting comes in! Shop with your daughters and find the right one for YOUR family values. Take time out to teach a girl to have respect for themselves and their body. I do agree that there are inappropriate dresses at certain ages and depending on how "developed" the girl is, different styles send different messages and personally I feel that some strapless dresses, when fitted appropriately, covers a lot more than some of the others!!!! There is a post that comments that her method of raising a girl is in her opinion is the "correct way", but, she also says that her 22 y/o has a son. Not to judge, my sister had her first child at 21. It was a mistake that turned into a wonderful life with the father, now her husband. I don't know the mother's situation or her daughter's, but it shows that just because you want to dress a girl a certain way, it doesn't keep her from making the wrong decisions in life. It is not the school's responsibility to raise our children, it is ours!!! And this is coming from someone that watched a mother lay her responsibilities to her children aside and alienate them from her life! Stop throwing your responsibilities and opinions on other people. If you haven't learned by now that your own opinion is not right for everyone then you, yourself have some growing to do. And yes I does tiny spaghetti straps show less skin????? Really?
HeatherBollinger50358 HeatherBollinger50358 4 years
Lets stop worrying so much about the sex factor and the distraction factor and boys will be boys and girls should keep them from being boys, etc.... I think what the principal needed to say was "Schools have dress codes. We have reasons for them and that's that. When you grow up your boss will ALSO likely have a dress code so you might as well get used to it. Its called society and our job is to help you function in it, and that means, sometimes FOLLOWING THE RULES. There are plenty of private functions, birthday parties, outings with friends where you can let your kid wear nothing but a top hat. Here at school the boys wear pants, the girls wear straps, and everyone covers up their T&A. End of discussion."
ChristinaCordero ChristinaCordero 4 years
This is AWESOME! I hate strapless dresses for exactly the reasons cited, it's time somebody stood up for modesty! WELL DONE, PRINCIPAL!
JonetteHodson JonetteHodson 4 years
No are you kidding me? Send my 13 or 14 year old in a strapless dress anywhere? They have a lot of years to go.. Too young and too many peverts out their! Let these girls grow up a little will ya????? Leave them something to look forward to...
KarenCook35816 KarenCook35816 4 years
No, I would not allow my daughter to wear anything that would be considered revealing. I am not sure whether I agree with the school's decision or not, it's up to the parents. However, I do believe that wearing something revealing is just asking for trouble. Yes, boys should be held accountable but often they are not.
LianeBrady40815 LianeBrady40815 4 years
I'm shocked by people's lack of intelligance on the laws of attraction. Regardless of what a girl is or isn't wearing she will still attract male attention. Some girls are going to be naturally more attractive covered up or not, wearing makeup or not, hair up or down, wearing the latest fashion or not. Girls come in all different shapes and sizes just as we women do. Boys are attracted to all different sorts of girls, just the same as men are with women. You cannot stop attraction or distraction from happening. A group of girls all wearing strapless dresses is the same as a group of girls all covered up, boys will still look for the girl they are most attracted to-and since theses dances are for kids the same age what is the problem? So is a modestly dressed girl considered unattractive?? God forbid she show's some shoulder all the boys will go wild and not be able to control themselves (how ridiculous)! I know lets teach our girls not to wash, not to have clean hair, grubby hands, wear big baggy clothes then she'll be safe....better yet lets all follow Islam and cover our girls from head to toe....yeah that would be better. Maybe we should even keep them home from the dance, that way there will be no chance of normal boy/girl interaction.
gallanew gallanew 4 years
The reality of this seems to be that once again, schools are to involved with the parenting of children. I agree that rule is a good rule, only if you are a parent. It is the opinion of the school that this attire is distracting to boys, yet whether girls are covered or uncovered boys will still be distracted. School is for education not parenting, now you know once a teacher or faculty member chooses to discipline your child in a way you feel is inappropriate or unnecessary.. Then you will be the first to call out how " you're their parent and they have no right!" As soon as its beneficial to you then everyone's in agreement... At the end of the day you have the standard dress codes allowed in school when it comes to an extracurricular activity or event such as this, the parents should be a guide. I personally feel the kids shouldn't be allowed to touch when dancing, no slow songs no touching period, i believe it leads to other thoughts and suggests in appropriate thinking, yet how many parents will argue with that and how ridiculous that sounds. Yet, that's how my kids are raised and that's my parental decision to make that rule for my children. School rules should be about education and school rules, basic dress attire during school and for after school activities parents should be more apart of that decision.
SuzanBroadbent SuzanBroadbent 4 years
Unbless er 8 in America means somewhere over 18 years old...well done principal. Theres plenty of time later for sexy dresses...
Isabel14435120 Isabel14435120 4 years
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