Talk about making a statement.
A West Palm Beach, Fla. teenager has become a bit of an Internet sensation after posting pics of her beautiful and powerful prom dress on Instagram. While prom dress pics are flooding our social media feeds this time of year, the reason hers is going viral is because of one important difference: it honours the Black Lives Matter movement.
Milan Bolden-Morris, a 17-year-old student and basketball star at Cardinal Newman High School, wore a statement-making black backless gown with a big photo of Trayvon Martin — the teen who was shot to death by George Zimmerman in 2012 — on the front of the skirt.
The gown also features more photos of other black people who have died due to interactions with police, including Michael Brown and Sandra Bland, the 28-year-old who was found hanged in her Texas prison cell three days after being arrested during a traffic stop in 2015.
"Yes I'm black. Yes I'm 17. Yes GOD is using me to convey a message that's bigger than me. #AllLivesMatter❤️ #BlackLivesMatter #MoveWithPurpose," the teen wrote on one of her Instagram snaps, tagging celebrities such as Tyler Perry, Oprah, Beyonce, Drake, and Rihanna.
As of press time, the Instagram photo has received more than 16,000 likes and dozens of comments, many of which were positive and encouraging.
"Beautiful and bold statement! Keep representing!," one Instagram comment read. "Congrats on your prom!!! Thank you for being woke strong black queen and shining a little [light] on what people intentionally try to over look!!!" read another.
Although some people criticized the young woman for politicizing a high school tradition, many others stood up for Bolden-Morris against the negative comments.
"No need for the negative comments on her post if you don't agree keep scrolling...the fact that she decided on one of the most important days of her life to pay tribute in a way she chose to support the lives lost of innocent black folks is amazing...you don't have to agree a lot of us do...yes all lives matter but right now she's referring to the black lives...no keep it moving! Cardinal Newman!!! You go girl...representing for our hometown," wrote one Instagram user.
As for Bolden-Morris, she says she doesn't hold any ill will towards those who don't like her dress. "Many people have their opinions on the motives behind the dress, but all I can do is pray for them and know that our intentions were well," she told Yahoo.
She also doesn't take any credit for the powerful gown, acknowledging designer Terrence Torrence for creating it.
"Honestly [I'm] just the model for the dress. It was all my designer’s idea, Terrence Torrence, to convey this message and he asked if I wanted to help and of course I did,” she told Yahoo. "The sole purpose was to convey his message, it was never about me or how I look in it, just the message."
"It was art. It was surreal. It spoke volumes."
Torrence, a Florida-based fashion designer, told Essence that he wanted to create a dress inspired by Black Lives Matter last year, but it finally came together this year and took four days to make.
"It was powerful," Torrence said of finishing the dress. "It was art. It was surreal. It spoke volumes."
"It was powerful and a movement and I knew people would respond to it," he added.