School Plans to Hand Out 'Modesty Ponchos' to Girls Dressed 'Inappropriately' at Prom

divine child modesty poncho
Fox 2 News

It's prom season and we all know what that means: It's time for schools around the country to engage in a rousing game of Who Can Come Up With the Most Absurdly Offensive Way to Enforce a Dress Code? Last year, there was the Florida high school that posted flyers all over campus showing what"/good girls" wear to prom. This year, a Catholic school in Dearborn, Michigan, decided to take things up a notch. Administrators at Divine Child High School created "modesty ponchos" they can pass out to girls they think need to cover up during the dance.

  • Michigan's Fox 2 broke the story about the ponchos, noting that they'll be handed out as students walk in the door at prom.

    Students have been asked to shake hands with a line of faculty as they walk into the dance, giving the staff time to assess their outfits and decide if they need to be branded with the poncho of shame. A note attached to each poncho reads, "If your dress does not meet our formal dance dress requirements -- no problem! We've got you covered -- literally. This is our Modesty Poncho, which you'll be given at the door. :)"

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  • Those photos may be hard to see, so let's go in for a close-up, shall we?

    Just gorgeous. After all, what teenage girl doesn't want to spend prom night covered in whales?

  • In addition to the ponchos, students and their parents have been asked to sign a detailed dress-code agreement laying out expectations for the prom.

    The dress code bans spaghetti straps, plunging necklines, cutouts, cleavage, two-piece dresses, piercings, and tattoos. Upon signing the agreement, students acknowledge that if their dresses aren't up to code, they may be "required to change [their] appearance" (i.e., rock a poncho) or even asked to leave.

  • School officials claim they haven't had any complaints from parents, but students are already speaking out online.

  • One student also spoke to Fox 2 on the condition of anonymity because she claims she fears retaliation. "I do believe the school has gone too far with this," she said. "Who knows what will happen to those who try and speak out against it?"


  • But a few people took the opportunity to remind people that Divine Child High School is a private, Catholic institution.

    As such, they have the right to enforce any dress code they please. Theology teacher Mary Pat O'Malley, who came up with the idea for the modesty ponchos, told Fox 2 that the ponchos were also not intended to be taken so seriously. "We are trying focus on the inner beauty and not draw attention to something that doesn't need attention drawn to it. It was really intended as a deterrent and a lighthearted one at that," she said.

  • But regardless of the intentions behind the ponchos, students agree the impact is damaging to girls.

    These ponchos set girls up to be judged based on how their bodies look and what they choose to wear, all while completely ignoring the male students who will be attending the dance. And they force girls to feel shame about simple things, like baring their shoulders or having developed breasts. Obviously schools have the right to enforce a dress code, but where is the line between enforcing a standard of decorum and treating impressionable teens' bodies as shameful distractions?

    At least one student told Fox 2 that if she's asked to wear a modesty poncho, she's not going to stand for it. "I would refuse the poncho and go to dinner somewhere else dressed up," she said.

    Good for her.

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