<p dir="ltr"><img alt="" class="media-image attr__typeof__foaf:Image img__fid__33982 img__view_mode__default attr__format__default attr__field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]__ attr__field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]__" src="http://www.texasmonthly.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/prom_0.jpg" typeof="foaf:Image" /></p> <p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-49e07dcc-e2e7-78e0-b7c8-d196c3fd1ca1">After securing a date (or deciding to go stag) and buying a $70 to 100 ticket, the young women who wished to attend Eisenhower High School’s prom were to submit a photograph of their dress—on their actual body</span><span style="line-height: 20.7999992370605px;">—</span><span>for approval. This screening process was meant to save them from heartache the night of the prom. As per prom policy at the Houston-area school, and several </span><a href="http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/virginia-teen-says-dress-got-her-kicked-out-prom-n105516" target="_blank">other schools</a>, anyone who shows up to the dance wearing something “inappropriate” runs the risk of being sent away at the door.</p> <!--break--> <p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-49e07dcc-e2e7-78e0-b7c8-d196c3fd1ca1">But several days of finger-wagging headlines and what must have been significant outrage from the students and parents of Eisenhower eventually pressured the school into </span><a href="http://www.chron.com/news/education/article/Ahead-of-prom-school-asks-for-photos-of-girls-6212072.php" target="_blank">dropping the pre-approval policy</a>. In light of how problematic the entire process was, this is probably for the best. While the mandates and guidelines for what can and can’t be worn to a school-sponsored event seem reasonable—no <a href="http://www.chron.com/news/education/article/Ahead-of-prom-school-asks-for-photos-of-girls-6212072.php" style="line-height: 20.7999992370605px;" target="_blank">“exposed midriffs or cleavage, low backdrop dresses, short dresses or bikini tops”</a><span style="line-height: 20.7999992370605px;">—</span>it’s quite another matter to require seventeen- and eighteen-year-old girls to send photographs of themselves in formal wear and await approval.</p> <p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-49e07dcc-e2e7-78e0-b7c8-d196c3fd1ca1"><a href="http://www.chron.com/news/education/article/Ahead-of-prom-school-asks-for-photos-of-girls-6212072.php" target="_blank">As reported</a></span> by the<em> Houston Chronicle</em>, the policy was dropped an hour after a reporter reached out to Aldine ISD for comment. Eisenhower’s principal, Ben Ibarra, explained why the process was adopted in the first place:</p> <blockquote> <p dir="ltr"><em><span id="docs-internal-guid-49e07dcc-e2e7-78e0-b7c8-d196c3fd1ca1">“The school has had issues in the past with girls showing up in inappropriate dresses despite guidelines being issued and the parent and student signing. Students were turned away at the door and parents were very angry," he said. "Therefore, the process of pre-approval was put in place.” </span></em></p> </blockquote> <p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-49e07dcc-e2e7-78e0-b7c8-d196c3fd1ca1">For starters, this whole thing sounds like a logistical </span>nightmare. On the student side, requiring each dress be photographed for approval while actually wearing the garment makes the policy difficult for anyone who prefers to shop online. It also means if that students who miss the mark must make multiple trips to whatever department store or boutique (or wherever kids these days are shopping for formal wear), a frustrating and time-consuming experience.</p> <p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-49e07dcc-e2e7-78e0-b7c8-d196c3fd1ca1">Where things got really thorny is on the receiving end of all these photos. According to </span><a href="http://www.texastribune.org/public-ed/explore/aldine-isd/eisenhower-high-school/" target="_blank">data</a> provided by the <em>Texas Tribune</em>, the average class size at Eisenhower is about 600 to 700 students. Add in dates who are invited from other schools, and someone has hundreds of photographs to screen and approve between now and <a href="http://www.aldine.k12.tx.us/cms/rise/main.cfm?siteID=123&pageID=5406" target="_blank">May 15</a>, the night of the school prom.</p> <p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-49e07dcc-e2e7-78e0-b7c8-d196c3fd1ca1">In a public school the size of Eisenhower, who has the time to review all those prom dress selfies? According to what Ibarra </span><a href="http://www.chron.com/news/education/article/Ahead-of-prom-school-asks-for-photos-of-girls-6212072.php" target="_blank">told the <em>Chronicle</em></a>, “two senior class women representatives would review the photos” as they were provided. To clarify: two senior girls were to be in charge of telling every other female attendant of the prom what they could or could not wear to the dance. While the two representatives could certainly be very thoughtul and mature young adults, there is something slightly off-putting about allowing two fellow students have ultimate veto power over what their peers can and cannot wear.</p> <p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-49e07dcc-e2e7-78e0-b7c8-d196c3fd1ca1">Of course, as the proverbial cherry on top of this teen crisis sundae, there’s the usual question of, “Hey, might it be a bit unfair to only make girls participate in the screening process?” As per Eisenhower prom policy, men are required to wear tuxedos or suits to the soiree. So unless a wild teen decides to let </span><a href="http://www.nbc.com/saturday-night-live/video/chippendales/n41045" target="_blank">Chippendales</a> inspire his prom outfit, it’s unlikely anyone in male attire will be turned away, forlorn and dejected, at the door.</p> <p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-49e07dcc-e2e7-78e0-b7c8-d196c3fd1ca1">And yet, there’s still something that’s just a bit </span>over-the-top about making teen girls send in photographs of themselves modeling both the front and back of their potential gowns. Snapping photos of the dress on the hanger or sending in a link to an online store of a model wearing it, while still ridiculous, would have eliminated the risk of body-shaming a girl for how her figure looks in a certain styles.</p> <p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-49e07dcc-e2e7-78e0-b7c8-d196c3fd1ca1">In the wake of all this prom drama, lawyers have given some thought as to whether or not this could have resulted in a lawsuit for Eisenhower High. While </span><a href="http://education.findlaw.com/student-rights/school-dress-codes.html" target="_blank">courts tend to rule</a> on the side of the school in dress code v. freedom of speech issues, the unofficial ruling in this case, based on the photograph evidence and “peer on peer” review process, is <a href="http://blogs.findlaw.com/law_and_life/2015/04/can-high-schools-require-official-approval-for-prom-dresses.html" target="_blank">probably, yes</a>.</p> <p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-49e07dcc-e2e7-78e0-b7c8-d196c3fd1ca1">But for now, the whole issue has been sidestepped. And maybe the threat of having to send dress selfies to their peers has scared the women who plan on attending Eisenhower prom into purchasing modest, provincial ball gowns for this year’s dance. Besides, isn’t it all about <a href="http://www.seventeen.com/prom/g305/amazing-after-prom-ideas/" target="_blank">After Prom</a> anyways?</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span><em>Photo courtesy of ThinkStock.</em></span></p>

Little did I know when I wrote the following words nearly four years ago—“Please, patronize Wild Blue before it’s too late”—that my greatest fear would come true. One of the true stalwarts of Texas Barbecue–Wild Blue B.B.Q., located in the near-Brownsville city of Los Fresnos—will shut its doors on February 4. Wild Blue was included in Texas Monthly’s June 2008 story on the top fifty barbecue joints in Texas and participated in both of our barbecue festivals, in 2010 and 2011. Owner/pitmaster Abraham Avila said in a story in the Brownsville Herald that business was just too spotty in his out-of-the-way location. I remember distinctly the day I ate at Wild Blue, on my road trip through the Valley in 2008, for our top-fifty story. In a word, its barbecue blew me away. In spite of not being done on a traditional pit, it was deeply smoky, tender, and had a rub that wasn’t like anything else I had come across before. After I decided (instantly) that it was worthy of our list, I started talking with the young owner, Abraham Avila. That blew me away again. The guy had about, oh, a hundred cookbooks and food magazines lying around the joint. It turned out he was whip smart and a trained chef to boot. We must have talked for thirty minutes or more about the New York food scene (he keeps up with it), chefs we admired, and, oh yes, the future of barbecue in Texas. He admitted to me then that his true dream was to open a serious restaurant, but that barbecue seemed like a better bet in the Rio Grande Valley. He told the newspaper he’s hoping to open a restaurant (maybe his dream place) and will revive Wild Blue if he finds a good spot. Abraham, all your friends here wish you well and are keeping our fingers crossed. You people in the Valley, head over and have a brisket plate while you still can! Here is what I wrote about Wild Blue in June 2008:  “Food is my life,” says young owner-pitmaster Abraham Avila, who fusses over every detail, from the brisket-seasoning rub (paprika, brown sugar, ancho chile, cumin, oregano, coriander, and kosher salt) and the satiny sweet-potato flan to the blend of apple and pecan woods in the smoker. But business is slow, as South Padre—bound tourists zoom by, hell-bent for bad tacos. Please, patronize Wild Blue before it’s too late. 31230 Texas Hwy. 100, 956-233-8185.” Breakfast Mon–Sat 7–9. Lunch Mon–Sat 11–3. Dinner Sun–Tue 5–9, Fri & Sat 5–10.  (Hours and photograph from Wild Blue’s website.)