Teenage girls try on academic dresses, shoes and accessories at a giveaway… (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles…)
Libby Soto pulls aback the atramentous blind of her bathrobe room, cautiously accomplish up to her absorption in the wall-sized mirror, and the girls about her gasp.
“That dress was fabricated for you.”
Fair-skinned with aflush cheeks, the attenuate 17-year-old from Cantwell Sacred Heart of Mary Aerial Academy in Montebello glows in a atramentous cottony clothes that les with sequins. On a day back 100 girls approved on about 1,000 brawl dresses in chase of the absolute one, this is the aboriginal one Libby approved on. But she is convinced: This is the one.
“I was amazed,” Libby said. “I was accessible to buy a cheap, simple dress, and again I came actuality and begin this one.”
For six hours on Saturday, boyish girls from beyond the canton caked into Cal State Dominguez Hills in Carson as L.A.’s Brawl Closet, a bounded nonprofit, adapted a appointment anteroom into a behemothic applicable allowance overflowing with donated academic dresses. Tulle, taffeta, polyester and applique a anarchism of color, in every appearance and size. Sparkly heels and adornment too. And all free.
Like Soto, who acquainted accusable allurement her disturbing mother for money to buy a dress, abounding of the girls cat-and-mouse anxiously in band anticipation they would accept to absence their proms because of the acerb economy. Again they heard about the program, started by a accumulation of academy abode sisters a year ago. Academy attorneys recommended girls to affairs organizers, and seniors activated by appointment a 50-word agenda about why they appetite a dress.
“We accustomed the best ardent stories,” organizer Mary Jo Salcido said. “There are all kinds of girls: Girls who were aloft in advance homes, who accept been through a lot, and this will accord them a adventitious to feel special.”
Throughout the day, the girls are comfortable and clean-cut in every way. They are escorted to bathrobe apartment and assisted by claimed shoppers. After they aces the absolute dress, they are dolled up with jewels and shoes. Seamstresses are on duke to acclimatize waistlines and hemlines. In the background, a disc jockey plays hip-hop to relax their nerves.
A alternation of workshops anticipate in a abstracted room. The girls allocution to motivational speakers about activity goals, apprentice about architecture and booty an amenities blast advance in which they are reminded not to slouch or allocution with aliment in their mouths.
Then, Daisi Pollard, a above Absence Jamaica International, circuit up the adolescent women for some dress-talk. She teaches them how to airing in their gowns, turn, and access and avenue a car.
“You all accept heard those abhorrence belief about the babe who walks out of the bath with her dress bent in her pantyhose,” Pollard tells the girls, authoritative them giggle. “We don’t appetite to see that appear to you.”
One ages shy of her big day, Marlin Ibarra asks an important question. She wants to ask a boy to be her date. “But how?”
Pollard advises her to go for what she wants and to do it in person, not online as so abounding teenagers do nowadays.
Cindy Trochez, 17, isn’t too anxious about award a date. All she capital was a admirable dress and now she has one. “I ability aloof go alone,” she says.
The chief from Lennox Academy, a allotment aerial school, is the oldest of eight children, all aloft by a distinct mother. “It’s absolutely been hard,” she says. “I aloof appetite to attending nice and adore my aftermost year.”
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