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Prom goes bust
When Brittany Minder showed up on prom night she was just as excited as any other 17-year-old student at the biggest school dance of the year.
That excitement quickly faded, however, when she was denied entry to the dance. Central Kitsap High School administrators stopped Brittany outside for showing too much cleavage.
She was eventually admitted on the provision she cover up with a shawl, but she left after only an hour.
"It wasn't a good experience for me," Brittany said. "I didn't want to stay there if I was feeling miserable."
In Brittany's account of the story, she said a female administrator stopped her and asked her to pull up the dress because she had too much cleavage exposed.
Brittany said she complied with the request and it seemed the female administrator was going to let her in as long as she kept the bodice pulled up. But then a male administrator told her she wouldn't be allowed in without the shawl.
Like so many other teenagers, Brittany and her mother, Kimberly, had spent the few months prior to prom searching for the perfect dress. Their search took them as far as Renton, but one stumbling block got in their way again and again.
Brittany's bust size.
"She's a 17-year-old, full-figured woman," Kimberly said. "There's nothing out there for a 40DDD."
Kimberly said no matter where they looked, or how hard, they could not find a single decent gown that fit her daughter's figure.
Then they remembered a store they had visited once in Victoria, Canada called Grand Central. There they found, by what seemed at the time to be great luck, a dress with the right fit.
The dress was specially designed with extra stays to support her bust, and they had it hemmed by a professional tailor to make sure the fit was perfect.
"The owners of the store were just amazed (she found a dress)," Kimberly said. "They were almost crying like they were proud mammas because she looked so pretty."
The Minders thought they were in the clear, but the biggest stumbling block still stood in their way — the school's dress code.
All students at Central Kitsap are forced to sign a form when purchasing their tickets to prom. Among other things, the students' signatures certify that their prom attire will adhere to dress code guidelines.
The relevant regulation on the form states, "Strapless dresses and those with spaghetti straps are allowed providing cleavage, midriff and lower back are covered."
District spokesman David Beil said he thinks the regulation is fairly straightforward: "I think it's spelled out pretty clearly."
The district released a statement Tuesday on the matter which said, "If a student's appearance does not meet the dress code, the staff help students to come up with a solution so they can still attend the school function."
The definition of cleavage itself appears straightforward as well: It is "The depression between a woman's breasts especially when made visible by a low-cut neckline," according to Merriam Webster.
Part of the problem, the Minders said, is the inherent unfairness of the guideline toward women with larger breast size.
Kimberly said they saw a number of girls with exposed cleavage allowed into the dance — the unfairness in the rule, they said, is that Brittany was disallowed entry primarily because her bust is larger than many of the other girls.
The Minders said that going into the dance they thought the dress adhered with the school's dress code. Because of the nature of the rule, all they could base their judgement on was past experience, Kimberly said.
"We went by what was acceptable at prior dances," she said. "You said this was okay. You let her in. It was the same people at each of these dances, but now they're saying no."
Beil defended the administrators' decision, saying Brittany wasn't the only student at the dance the staff had to work with.
The Minders themselves said that while talking with administrators they saw another girl with a large bust stopped at the door.
They said their problem isn't the dress code, it's the enforcement. Kimberly said she would challenge anyone to go find a dress to fit a 40DDD girl that would be both appropriate and wouldn't be completely unflattering.
Since the Minders' complaint first surfaced Monday night the story has exploded, appearing in news outlets as far abroad as the Melbourne Herald Sun and national new sites such as Gawker.
At that point comments began pouring in from people across the globe both defending Brittany and criticizing her.
Kimberly said people commented "over and over, 'why didn't she just get another dress?' "Where are we supposed to get another dress? They're not educated enough with this issue to know the problems."
The Minders want answers from administrators. They said the district has not responded except to remind them of the form Brittany signed.
Kimberly said she wants to know what was different this time that was fine in the past: "We have no idea what was going on in their heads."