Perth schools take stand on ball season modesty

Mercedes College, one of Western Australia's most prominent Catholic girls schools, has asked parents to sign a declaration that their children not wear to the school ball, gowns with plunging necklines or high splits.

The West Australian reports today that a number of private schools are taking a stand on modesty this ball season with girls who show too much flesh being asked to alter their dresses or risk being turned away from the ball.

A number of dress shops have confirmed to the paper that girls have had to return or alter dresses because the schools have deemed them too revealing.

At the Mercedes ball, held last month at the Hyatt Regency, girls who turned up in risque dresses were pulled aside by teachers and asked to sew their dresses or wear a tube-top to cover up.

Other private schools are allowing girls to wear what they like but declaring anyone choosing a dress considered too revealing would not be included in ball photos or the official video.

Catholic Education Office spokeswoman Mary Retel said while she could not comment on the policy of specific schools, Catholic schools generally promote respect for the person and that included the way students dressed and acted.

Schools have also issued warnings to parents about over-indulging their children by paying too much for gowns.

Dresses costing $1000-plus are no longer a rarity and stories of elaborate preparations and pre- and post-ball parties are common. Add this to the multitude of other expenses such as manicures, shoes and jewellery and the total cost quickly ratchets up to a wallet-flinching $2000.

Belles of the ball told to cover up (The West Australian 19/4/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Mercedes College
Catholic Education Office of Western Australia

Selection process 'harsh' (The Courier Mail 19/4/06)
Susan Pascoe: Future changes to enrolment policy (Kairos 18-23/4/06)

19 Apr 2006