This High School Senior Wore an African-Print Prom Dress After an Administrator Said It’d Be ‘Tacky’

makalaya zanders
Makalaya Zanders Makalaya Zanders/Instagram

Couture with culture! Makalaya Zanders, a high school senior in Cleveland, Ohio, chose a prom dress that was stylish and made a statement at the same time. The 18-year-old was tossing around the idea of wearing an African-print dress to the event when a white administrator reportedly told her that it’d be “tacky.”

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“So being someone who loves our culture and African glamorous style, me and @indelible_dc [the dress’ designer] decided to take the Ankara dress and put a twist on it,” Zanders explained in a May 16 Instagram post. 

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DeAndré Crenshaw, a Cleveland-based designer, crafted Zanders’ blue and gold gown. The boldly printed dress features a fitted bodice and a dramatic mermaid hem. Zanders paired her custom-made creation with a gold belt, necklaces, an arm bracelet and sandals. 

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Zanders, who plans to pursue fashion and modeling, told ABC News that the person who discouraged her from wearing the dress has since apologized for the statements. And though she racked up over 7,000 likes on many of her prom night posts, Zanders said she didn’t wear the dress for the social media cred.

“My dress was to make a point,” she captioned a May 16 Instagram. “That African style is beautiful. That I am comfortable with my Melanin and roots. And finally that there’s nothing like Black girl Magic.”

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