Annemarie Quill: Some charms better hidden

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St Dominic's College says the rules are to maintain high standards.
St Dominic's College says the rules are to maintain high standards.

Despite being in a profession that seeks to shine a light on the truth, there are some things that I like to conceal.

Like spots. I had an interview ahead but woke with a huge angry pimple on my chin.

I hadn't noticed it until my daughter said, "Disaster alert 7 o'clock on your face Mum, you need concealer NOW."

My other daughter told me to go away as it was putting her off her breakfast. My son suggested pretending it was a spider bite and wearing a plaster on it, Nelly style.

I could just embrace my quirks like Rachel McAdams. But she has a pretty mole on her chin, not a blotchy lump. Definitely not something you would want to shine a spotlight on. As my colleague remarked, Rachel McAdams didn't look knackered enough in the movie Spotlight to be a credible journalist.

Years of watching builders has left me an expert at trowelling and layering. After five layers of foundation and concealer, it was "out damn spot". Or if not out, hidden from view.

Some body parts should be kept hidden, too, in my view. Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld called fashion "a language that creates itself in clothes to interpret reality". So if you are wearing very little, your language is not going to be richly interpreted.

The more you cover up, the more you reveal about yourself - who you are as a person, rather than your inner thigh.

An Auckland Catholic girls' college found itself at the centre of a dress code revolt this week. NZME reported that St Dominic's College in Henderson had banned students from wearing dresses with plunging necklines, low backs and leg splits above the knee at its seniors' ball in July.

Several students expressed their anger over the policy, as they had already bought their dresses.

An online petition calling on the principal to rethink the policy said the rules included that the back could not go below the armpit, no cleavage must show at all and that you could not take off your shoes.

On the one hand I can see why students could see these rules as restricting personal freedom in making fashion choices. Yet all events have dress codes that are expected to be followed.

To wear your shorts to a friend's cocktail party, or a mini dress to a black tie dinner, is not just against the dress code but is rude and disrespectful to the host.

The students could argue that no one has the right to tell you what to wear.

The school does. A ball is a school event and the school's principal, Carol Coddington, said most people attending would be under 18. She is right that the school does have a responsibility to its students, and part of this is reminding young people to be respectful and have self respect.

Parents - who presumably pay for the dresses - would want similar things. I do not know any parent who would be happy to have his or her young daughter go out with her butt cheeks hanging out of her dress or a cleavage cut down to the groin.

Some may argue that these rules are teaching girls that there is something wrong with the naked body or showing their sexuality.

Nonsense. A gaping side may make the boys' eyes pop out but they are looking at the side boob, not you. Girls and women can still celebrate their sexuality in a well-cut, jaw-dropping dress that clings in all the right places.

Having said that, I do agree that some of the rules could be relaxed a little bit. For big-breasted girls, the only way to achieve no cleavage is a turtle neck, which is not very glamorous. And I think a dress that shows the back can be lovely, as long as it doesn't go to the bum crack.

And the rule that shoes cannot be taken off, I kind of agree that this can look a bit messy.

If you are so tired or uncomfortable that you feel you have to take your shoes off, then it might be time to step to the pillow.

Although there are some shoes that look fantastic but become killing beasts as the night wears on, keep them on for the party and slip into your jandals for the journey home.

It is true this may leave you partly crippled the following day but this is fashion, baby.

So I think guidelines are okay, but as Bay principals told reporter Ruth Keber, students generally live up to the schools' expectations, and "look brilliant".

That is certainly my experience of the many ball photos I have seen over the years at Bay schools, the girls look elegant and beautiful in well-chosen outfits.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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