The Piedmont Highlander

The Student News Site of Piedmont High School

The Piedmont Highlander

The Piedmont Highlander

April Crossword Key
April 19, 2024
APT outside of Piedmont Park
Staff Reductions
April 18, 2024

Drape or Tux?


When I checked in for my senior portrait, a tall person with slicked-back curls handed me a small card and wrapped a black piece of velvet around me. Drape in place, they steered me over to a crooked mirror, revealing a reflection bathed in yellowish fluorescence. Shoulders exposed, scratchy fabric held together by a binder clip, I examined the girl in the mirror. She wasn’t me.

So, I took photos in the tux, holding the jacket in place, the collar biting into my neck as I forced a smile. At first, the choice drape or tux excited me. I could pick which uncomfortable, formal costume to wear, but the thrill dissipated quickly.

The drape and tux are outdated. I understand they are tradition, but immortalizing my high school years with a photo of me wearing something I’ve never worn before is absurd.

When I got my photo taken, the photographer asked me why I wasn’t wearing a drape. Shrugging, I noticed the reassuring smile on their face.

“I wouldn’t have worn a drape in my senior portrait,” they said. “My high school let us pick out our own clothes.”

Clothing is how we express ourselves. For me, some days that means baggy jeans and ill-fitting t-shirts. For others, it means floral dresses and dangly earrings. When I get dressed in the morning, I chose how I present myself to the world, whether it’s lazy or quirky, so I want to choose how I present myself on my yearbook page.

The yearbook is a permanent record of our time in high school, a place to memorialize our achievements. The senior portrait honors the students who are graduating, giving them a high-quality photo they can look back on for years. However, the senior portrait goes beyond the yearbook, hanging on the mantelpieces of distant family members and the wallets of close friends. It depicts who we are and should be treated as such. That’s why we should be allowed to wear our own clothes in our senior portraits.

Additionally, the drape/tux dichotomy reinforces the gender binary. For students who are gender-nonconforming, choosing between a tux or a drape is particularly loaded. Each option is heavily associated with gender norms, forcing a student who doesn’t feel allegiance to venus or mars to choose one. We have gender-neutral bathrooms and gender-neutral graduation gowns, so why don’t we have gender-neutral yearbook photos? We shouldn’t have to exist in a binary world or a world of, conformity. The option to wear our own clothes accomplishes both of these things.

Now, the traditionalists may worry that the composition of the yearbook page would be thrown off if we all wear our own clothes. To that, I say let’s wear black. I know that I have at least seven black shirts in my wardrobe, three of them dating back to my brief emo phase in third grade. At least I can wear them without the help of a binder clip or bowtie.


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