School claims ‘Modesty Poncho’ was not meant to be worn by students, but to ‘remind’ them of prom dress code
A Catholic high school in Michigan claims they never intended to hand out “Modesty Ponchos” to underdressed prom attendees after receiving backlash from students and some parents.
“Our intention with displaying the poncho was never to make students feel uncomfortable, but to remind all students and parents of our formal Prom dress policy, which has not changed for several years,” principal Eric Haley wrote in a statement obtained by The Post. “To be clear: The poncho will not be passed out at Prom. It was on display to proactively remind students of our dress code policies and eliminate any confusion prior to this special event.”
“We encourage our students to tailor their outfits or provide their own wraps or shawls that would meet our requirements,” Haley’s statement continued. “If necessary, we may also provide wraps and shawls, as we have done at school functions for many years.”
The ponchos were originally created by the school and displayed on mannequins at Divinity Child High School in Dearborn, along with a note reading, “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. :)”
The Modesty Ponchos were displayed in different patterns and were initially reported to be designed as a cover-up to be worn on the shoulders of underdressed female students — like a poncho.
“We are trying focus on the inner beauty and not draw attention to something that doesn’t need attention drawn to it,” theology teacher Mary Pat O’Malley said to FOX 2. “It was really intended as a deterrent and a lighthearted one at that.”
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O’Malley came up with the idea for the Modesty Poncho as an addition to the school’s already detailed formal dress code agreement, which students and parents have to sign as part of the dress guidelines.
O’Malley and the high school principal told FOX 2 that no parents have complained about the proposed cover-up, but students were saying the poncho is a form of body shaming.
A student who wished to remain anonymous out of concerns of retaliation by the school, told FOX 2 that she was concerned about the clothing item.
“I do believe the school has gone too far with this,” she said. “As we walk into prom, we are to shake hands with all the teachers and if you walk through and a teacher deems your dress is inappropriate you will be given a poncho at the door.”
“Who knows what will happen to those who try and speak out against it?” she added. Her classmate was allegedly disciplined for criticizing the new poncho on social media. The administration neither confirmed nor denied the claim to FOX 2.
At least one parent agrees with the students upset over the Modesty Poncho.
“It’s a method of shaming, a method of building and degrading to females,” the parent, who also asked to be anonymous, said.
Following backlash, the school clarified its intentions with the “Modesty Ponchos” on Tuesday. The school’s prom is scheduled for May 12.