May 19, 2003 2:05 PM   Subscribe

"You look like a pimp," said the principal of a Chattanooga school to a student who wore a suit to graduation. Girls in gowns were also forbidden to walk across the stage to get their diplomas. Other than wearing, say, a chicken suit or something, can one be too dressed up for graduation?
posted by Oriole Adams (47 comments total)
hmmm, this was an 8th grade "graduation" ceremony...what's the harm in getting a little decked out? the school should either have a dress code for the event, or let go of the micromanagement...i can only imagine the parental apoplexy this caused, too bad that's not on video a la the powderpuff hazing incident...
posted by serafinapekkala at 2:13 PM on May 19, 2003

you gotta fight for your right to be overdressed at graduation

the principal should have left those kids alone
posted by matteo at 2:22 PM on May 19, 2003

I doubt they were violating the school's dress code in any way. There didn't seem to be anything inflammatory about the outfits. The Principal seemed to have nothing to bass his arguments on except his own fashion sense. First amendment issue again.

And, for the record, this may have been a good occasion for the Chattanoogan to exercise their right to paraphrase a parent's quote.
posted by KnitWit at 2:22 PM on May 19, 2003

Principal was a 'her,' sorry.
posted by KnitWit at 2:24 PM on May 19, 2003

RTFA and look at the pictures. It was a purple suit.

The kid does, in point of fact, look like a pimp.
posted by pjdoland at 2:28 PM on May 19, 2003

C'mon, that kid doesn't look like a pimp! That's a pretty good looking suit, if you ask me. Would that more people bothered to dress themselves in anything but khakis and polos, even to something like this. In short, the principal was being a tasteless AND heavy-handed. I'd certainly like to know what she was wearing to this ceremony. Probably something from the Gap.

No matter - the lawyers will handle it.
posted by UncleFes at 2:38 PM on May 19, 2003

Pimpishness is in the eye of the beholder, I guess. I'd bet twenty bucks that's the same suit the boy wore to church on Easter Sunday, and I feel pretty badly for his mother. That principal can take three running steps and go straight to hell.
posted by alumshubby at 2:38 PM on May 19, 2003

RTFA and look at the pictures. It was a purple suit.

The kid does, in point of fact, look like a pimp.

CTFD. I RTFA. If he ain't got a hat, he ain't a pimp. That's kinda like a rule or a law of pimpdom. Personally, I think the suit kicks ass. And it looks more blue than purple to me.
posted by dobbs at 2:38 PM on May 19, 2003

Have you ever seen a pimp, pjdoland? I can't say I have, having merely seen some costumed actors play pimps in the media. Maybe real pimps wear any old thing.

The kids look nice.

The principal's an idiot.
posted by orange swan at 2:39 PM on May 19, 2003

suits blue isn't it? he looks like a Sainsbury's manager.
posted by dabitch at 2:45 PM on May 19, 2003

The kid looks pretty sharp... THIS kid looks like a pimp!
posted by Nauip at 2:54 PM on May 19, 2003

Now that, Nauip, is a link worth posting. People dress their little boys up like pimps for Hallowe'en!?!?
posted by orange swan at 2:58 PM on May 19, 2003

"'That boy probably doesn't know what a pimp is.'"

Well, now, that would be hard to believe.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 3:02 PM on May 19, 2003

The principal was probably just jealous that he didn't look so spiff. This is about a million times worse than that other principal who kicked girls out of the homecoming dance for wearing thongs, and that was an outrage!

He probably thinks vanity is a sin or something asinine like that. Goddamn I hate authority figures who act like cartoon villains!
posted by catfood at 3:05 PM on May 19, 2003

I'm thinking this (female) principal is probably a very provincial and narrow-minded woman, and so used to being Queen Bee she doesn't think to question herself anymore.
posted by orange swan at 3:12 PM on May 19, 2003

This is really ridiculous. Particularly since I bet the kids that were the most excited about walking on stage in front of their parents were the ones that "overdressed". And that's another thing, who punishes kids for dressing up too much? It wasn't like they were dressed in bathing suits or gang-related clothes, which could be reasonably seen as disruptive.
posted by synapse at 3:12 PM on May 19, 2003

I'm thinking the armchair psychoanalysis is still unnecessary.
posted by Hildago at 3:31 PM on May 19, 2003

It's my graduation on Thursday, but i'll just wear whatever i have clean/ironed (but it is in a church so i will have to look a bit respectable)
posted by Celery at 3:38 PM on May 19, 2003

It's rather depressing that these kids weren't allowed to walk. It was obviously a ceremony of great importance to them and their families, and to be barred for such a superficial reason is mind-boggling.
posted by lychee at 3:48 PM on May 19, 2003

Here's the school, complete with picture of Principal Jung.
posted by dobbs at 3:52 PM on May 19, 2003

She blinks a lot.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 3:57 PM on May 19, 2003

Dress codes like this are bullshit. Receiving my diploma for high school graduation somehow had something to do with wearing a tie. I didn't care to, or own any. They went so far as to let us know they'd have some on-hand in case we "forgot."

So I wore a shirt with a banded collar. Wasn't allowed to march down the aisle. Darn...
Apparently, I didn't have to jump through any hoops in order to receive the pointless certificates for my various awards, because they did call me for those. I refused to go on stage for them.
posted by Su at 4:13 PM on May 19, 2003

When I graduated college, our speaker was John Ashcroft, and when I walked across the stage to pick up my diploma, and he saw that I was wearing combat boots under my gown, he got really miffed.

Still gave me my diploma at least.
posted by nomisxid at 4:29 PM on May 19, 2003

Sorry, I'm not exactly tracking this story straight. These were kids who were barred from the ceremony because they were appropriately dressed?


There are entire companies in BC built upon renting suits and tuxedos to graduates. Around here you don't show up to grad wearing bluejeans and a T.

I'm completely stunned that there are places where showing up well-dressed is considered inappropriate.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:36 PM on May 19, 2003

Highschooladministrator(s)dothestupidestthings. Filter.
posted by gottabefunky at 5:17 PM on May 19, 2003

Note that she's wearing a gouge-your-eyes-out crimson suit in the photograph that dobbs linked. Blue suit baaaad. Red suit goooood.
posted by George_Spiggott at 5:29 PM on May 19, 2003

The school system here is one of the reasons why people are leaving Chattanooga/Hamilton Co and going about 10 minutes south to North Georgia. The schools are more influenced by politics than they should could care less what's best for the kids. It's silliness like this, that shows how they spend more time with minor nonproblems than with actual issues.
posted by mkelley at 5:35 PM on May 19, 2003

Another story about the alleged pimp suit debacle, from the original interviews.
posted by mkelley at 5:42 PM on May 19, 2003

I feel bad for the kids....they spent money on those nice clothes, their parents were probably proud as all get-out...seems like the kids in question were really making an occasion out of their eighth grade graduation.

Isn't that something that should be encouraged?
posted by Oriole Adams at 5:42 PM on May 19, 2003

Many middle school principals and administrators are mini-Hitlers. I'm not sure why.

But my son graduates from high school next month. Just what I need-something else to obsess about.
posted by konolia at 6:11 PM on May 19, 2003

Celebrating a graduate's accomplishment is a great thing, but what about kids who can't afford all the fancy garb? It's their graduation too. One-upsmanship about fashion, or vulgar remarks, both take away from the purpose of the event. Check out this estimate of "incidental costs" for typical senior year activities ... looks like about $1500.
Why start down this path in eighth grade?

Traditional academic dress or prom outfits both seem a little much for kids of that age ... it's just eighth grade, and it's your last chance to be a kid.
posted by sheauga at 6:13 PM on May 19, 2003

sheauga, those are good reasons not to require formal wear at school events. Not good reasons to prohibit it.
posted by lbergstr at 6:19 PM on May 19, 2003

There was a link here or on Fark about a high school where the kids rival for the goofiest transportation/clothing.

I wish my high school had been so bright.

Anyway, maybe that's how this middle-school should handle the problem: encourage creativity.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:26 PM on May 19, 2003

Pimp? Interesting choice of words, would she have said the same thing about a white kid wearing that suit?
posted by iamck at 8:06 PM on May 19, 2003

iamck, the probability of a white kid wearing that suit is slim. But given that such suits are a current African-American fashion trend, the probability of one of this principal's kids wearing that suit was pretty high. I can't help but to conclude that this entire situation is a result of Ms. Jung's utter lack of any sort of concept of what is considered appropriate and fashionable in the urban African-American community where she works. She's out of touch with the constituency she's meant to serve, and that in and of itself is a problem, especially -- particularly -- for someone whose role really demands that she stay in tune with what's going on around her a lot better than this would indicate that she has.

To take it further, I cannot begin to fathom how this educator ever thought it appropriate to use the word "pimp," regardless of context, in a comment made to a student of this age. Whether it was "you look like a pimp" or something about pimp suits or pimp walking, it was out of line in a frighteningly big way. Strike two.

It makes me wonder what her everyday administration of this school, with this student population, is like. I really don't think I'd be happy if I found out.

Stories like this are precisely why my kids are homeschooled.
posted by Dreama at 8:32 PM on May 19, 2003

A lot of times school frown on showy dress becasue it highlights economic differences between the families who send their children to a school. Schools are as sensitive to class tensions as race tensions. Perhaps this particular call was off the mark, but I'm surprised no one seems to have encountered this kind of thing before. When my mom was a teacher, a little girl, child of a rich yuppie, showed up for graduation in a white sheeny gown with butterfly wings and a gold tiara. The other kids felt dowdy by comparison. So she sent the princess home to change. If someone showed up in ripped jeans and sneakers, they'd probably get sent home too. The point is that there IS such a thing as TOO dressed up.
posted by scarabic at 8:56 PM on May 19, 2003

(this was something like a 4th grade graduation, btw)
posted by scarabic at 9:00 PM on May 19, 2003

I think they all look very nice, and to not let them walk because they bothered to look nice is totally ignorant ... especially since the one gown they said no to looks an awful lot like the two gowns that got to walk. And that young man looks nice in that blue suit. I'd rather see young kids dressing up for an important occasion in suits and gowns than in some of the Britney Spears inspired get-ups they seem to wear on a daily basis.

As someone above said, the kids that took the time to look really nice and "grown up" were probably the very same kids to whom this graduation meant a great deal, and whose families were going to be the most proud that their kids had accomplished an 8th grade graduation. There are a lot of kids out there that don't get that far before they lose interest in going to school and begin failing and cutting classes, etc. It's unfair to take that moment of pride on the stage away from them.

Hell, at my high school graduation getting "real dressed up" was a requirement not an option. Jeans were not permitted, nor were cowboy boots ... a polo shirt would have seen you sent home to change immediately. Girls were expected to be dressed for a semiformal event, if not formal. Some girls wore full length gowns, and others wore tea dresses. We were forced to wear pantyhose and dress shoes (heels) for pete's sake!

Sorry for the lengthy "rant", but it just chaps my hide that we want kids to be excited about school, and we want them to stay in school, and yet every day it seems that more and more crap comes along that can make them turn against schooling.
posted by Orb at 10:03 PM on May 19, 2003

I wore a conehead to my college graduation. I heard a chuckle as I walked past the guest speaker, Hillary Rodham Clinton.

No one else cared, though.
posted by Fofer at 10:51 PM on May 19, 2003

Mrs. Alums works in district-level school administration, and when she read the story, she rolled her eyes. She's seen similar levels idiocy at work, although rarely anything this egregious. Teachers and school-level admins who pull stunts like this are usually gone forthwith if a school district is on the ball and the school board aren't a bunch of cretins.

I wonder if this incredibly stupid woman realizes that her "pimp" remark, she's just rendered herself utterly ineffective in her job. Probably she's too obtuse to grasp that she's thrown away any respect her station is supposed to command, even if it's been pointed out to her.
posted by alumshubby at 4:50 AM on May 20, 2003

When I graduated college, our speaker was John Ashcroft

... and his speech was titled "You've Spent the Past Four Years Learning to Think, Question and Explore, and Now I'm Telling You God and His Messenger George W. Want You to Forget That Liberal Crimethink and Do What You're Told".

Am I right? Am I right? You know I'm right.
posted by eustacescrubb at 7:04 AM on May 20, 2003

For my high school graduation I went through the horror of trying on the most hideous hand-me-down/cast-off dresses that were donated to the Home Ec department. My mother and I ended up scouring bridal shops for super-marked-down wedding dresses we could have my great-aunt alter later, but I did end up looking really nice, despite having very little money to spend on the required white dress for the ceremony. (Not only did we take off the short train, but we also had to have each and every pearl and iridescent sequin removed, as the dresses were to have no shiny decorative elements to them.)

I thought the boy in the suit looked great. The other young women looked nice, too, and it's a real shame they weren't allowed to walk with their classmates. Yeesh.
posted by wells at 7:36 AM on May 20, 2003

Why, exactly, are we 'graduating' kids from the 8th grade, anyway?
posted by Slithy_Tove at 7:41 AM on May 20, 2003

They've been going on for a long time and it seems, by doing a quick Google search that a great many schools have them. Mine didn't, at least not when I was in attendance, but I know that schools in neighboring areas did and always had.

Basically, it's a rite of passage. You are about to enter high school, where for the most part, you are expected to be young men and women instead of little kids. In some cases, these 8th graders have spent the last 8 years together and after they finish this grade, they will be attending different high schools. It's the end of a period in a person's life ... a milestone. The end of primary education and the beginning of secondary education.

As one of my friends said last night, "After 8th grade, you are supposed to stop thinking about making mud pies and start considering what you want to do with your life."
posted by Orb at 8:37 AM on May 20, 2003

he saw that I was wearing combat boots under my gown, he got really miffed.

That is so great. Happiest news of the day I am sure.

I do not get anything out of most ceremony, so I did not go to any of my graduation events after grade school (which I would rather have skipped as well). This scandal does seem silly to me, but so does their dressing up. I wish they had been allowed to do as they pleased, but I cannot seem to generate any outrage.
posted by thirteen at 11:44 AM on May 20, 2003

If this proves anything, it's that no one should ever go to Tennessee for any reason.
posted by basilwhite at 7:34 AM on May 21, 2003

Probably those kids were told to dress up by their parents in the first place.

You know, I remember in school how everyone told me "the real world" would be harsher and less forgiving. So far that's been complete BS...
posted by Foosnark at 9:01 AM on May 21, 2003

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