On the red carpet, women are frequently lauded for wearing menswear-inspired suiting instead of the expected gown or sexy mini. But if that woman isn’t a celebrity? Fuhgeddaboudit!
Such was the lesson learned by teenager Aniya Wolf when she attended her prom last week at Bishop McDevitt High School in Harrisburg, Pa. Since she was a little kid, Wolf has preferred to dress in a more typically masculine way, favoring pants and sneakers over skirts and heels. “I’ve just always been like this, ever since I was little,” she told her local ABC news affiliate. “I was always more masculine. You wouldn’t catch me playing with any Barbie dolls, I’ll tell you that right now.” So it seemed only natural for her to choose to wear a tuxedo to her prom, rather than a glitzy gown.
But officials at the Catholic school weren’t having it. As Wolf’s mother, Carolyn, explains, they sent out a last-minute email in an attempt to dissuade her daughter from wearing a suit, explaining that only male students were permitted to wear suits to prom, and female students were required to wear dresses. But Wolf had already bought a suit — and anyway, she wasn’t about to alter her personal style to appease her overly conservative school.
“I told them that I had read the dress code that was given to the students and I didn’t think that it precluded her from wearing a suit,” said Wolf’s mother. “I said that this was very unfair, particularly at the last minute. We had gone out and bought a new suit. I think my daughter is beautiful in a suit.”
So Wolf wore her suit to prom — and you can probably guess what happened next: She was voted prom queen!
Kidding. As soon as she arrived at the event, a member of Bishop McDevitt’s faculty allegedly took Wolf by the arm and threatened to call the police — so Wolf left.
“You know, a lot of girls’ dresses, I mean I’m not saying that all of them are this way, but they do show a lot of skin,” Wolf said. “I think I’m dressed pretty modestly.”
The year 2016 may go down as one of prom dress-code disputes — but in this case, it seems clear that Wolf’s school’s disapproval of her way of dressing has less to do with her level of modesty compared with her fellow students, and more to do with her orientation. Wolf identifies as lesbian, and the Catholic Church has quite a contentious history regarding homosexuality. Still, forcing a lesbian into a dress won’t turn her straight — it’ll just piss her off.
The good news? Prom means high school is almost over for Wolf — and New York City isn’t that far from Pennsylvania, if she wants to move here — and it’s still close to Mama Carolyn and her awesomeness. Just keep doing you, Aniya.