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FILE - Prom dresses are pictured April 4, 2015. (Pixabay via MGN)

Michigan Catholic school ends prom 'modesty poncho' plan

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DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) — A principal at a Michigan Catholic high school has rescinded a plan to require female students to wear "modesty ponchos" at prom if their dresses are too revealing.

Some students and parents at Divine Child High School in Dearborn had called the policy a form of body shaming.

Principal Eric Haley issued a statement Tuesday through the Archdiocese of Detroit, saying that the ponchos were intended to remind students of the dress code, not to make them feel uncomfortable.

The ponchos will not be passed out at prom, he said.

The pink and patterned ponchos were previously on display inside the school with a note saying they would be handed to girls wearing dresses that violate the school's code. The length of the poncho suggests it's designed to cover cleavage.

The formal dress policy for the May 12 prom outlines that dresses cannot have plunging necklines or "cutouts below the traditional bra line," even if covered with mesh fabric. The school forbids exposed cleavage and visible midriffs, and a teacher will check for compliance at the door.

Theology teacher Mary Pat O'Malley came up with the "modesty poncho" idea.

"We are trying focus on the inner beauty and not draw attention to something that doesn't need attention drawn to it," O'Malley said. "It was really intended as a deterrent and a light hearted one at that."

Haley said the school recognizes that the "modesty poncho" has drawn away from its goal of having students adhere to the dress code policy.

"We encourage our students to tailor their outfits or provide their own wraps or shawls that would meet our requirements," he said. "If necessary, we may also provide wraps and shawls, as we have done at school functions for many years."

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