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What's 'prom 'propriate'? School outlines dress code in controversial video

A video about what students can and can't wear to prom at a North Carolina high school has sparked controversy online.
/ Source: TODAY

A video about what students can and can't wear to prom at a North Carolina high school has sparked controversy online, with some critics accusing the student-made clip of body-shaming.

In the video, posted on Cleveland High School's website, a "panel" of judges rates three groups of dresses — the first, apparently passing the dress code, as each judge holds up a sign with a check mark. The second set, comprised of slightly more risque designs, gets denied; each judge holds up a sign marked with a red X. But it's the final set of dresses (one featuring a high slit, another with an open back and the last one made of sheer fabric) that really riles the judges. They flip the table over and storm out of the room in disgust. Clearly, these gowns don't follow the prom dress code.

The video, filmed as a mock game show called "So You Think You're Prom 'Propriate?", was meant to be a fun way to help students understand what type of dresses would be allowed at the upcoming prom, a spokesperson for the school told TODAY. It was produced by the student broadcast team, she added.

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But not everyone is a fan of the school's methods: One website blasted the project as a "disturbing body-shaming video." And on Twitter, commenters called the video "dumb" and "sexist," with one woman writing, "Do you want them to dress like nuns?" Others pointed out that the video only focused on what women can and can't wear, and didn't include any rules for male students.

The school, located in Clayton, North Carolina, sent the following statement to TODAY:

"The Cleveland High School student-produced video focused on being prom-appropriate in order to help students understand acceptable and unacceptable attire for the prom. Because the prom is such an important and festive event in the lives of students, the Cleveland High student media production team wanted to ensure that everyone in attendance was able to enjoy their time instead of being concerned about appropriate attire.

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"We appreciate the students working toward being good communicators and utilizing innovative tools for getting their point across," the statement continued. "This video is just one form of communication that shares information and expectations of prom activities prior to the event."

The school also posted a PowerPoint on its website to help students prepare for the upcoming prom, on April 29, explaining that dresses can't have side cutouts or reveal students' midsections, come higher than 3 inches above the knee, or be made of nude or sheer material.