Those Damn Social Mores

This old photograph was taken in a local park that resides below the church that my wife and I got married in. On the back of the photograph is a rather sad inscription:

‘Dorothy in coloured dress because she was not allowed a white dress as her mother not married’


The sense of sadness deepens when you study the expression on the poor girl’s face, made to feel separate from the other children present.

Made an example of through no fault of her own.

They are all grouped together for a staged photograph, but she is distinct from the others.

Would I have noticed this without the written inscription? Probably not. But now-she is the focus of everything.

I wonder if her mother was present, and how she felt seeing her daughter treated so, no doubt ostracised herself?

If that photograph was taken today, the girl would have fit right in with everybody else.

Whoever Dorothy was, I hope she went on to have a happy and fulfilled life, this day becoming long forgotten.

17 thoughts on “Those Damn Social Mores

  1. How horrific. Yet, if I am frankly honest with myself, can I claim to be entirely innocent of ostracizing, judging, and shaming others? Of course not. As much as I may mature and grow, I know that when I feel vulnerable, I have the tendency to make scapegoats of others. From my places of insecurity come the tendencies to separate myself from other people in a way that puts them down and elevates myself. Maybe we don’t do things such as force children of unwed mothers to wear different colored dresses, or force individuals to wear scarlet A’s, but I have a suspicion that as a society, not all that much has changed.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. First Communion Day?
    Never heard of this for a kiddo…geesh.
    Maybe May Day/May Pole fun for the local orphans?
    Dorothy probably did not have as much fun/or receive the sacrament as happily as the others (I really don’t think it’s a first communion, but the dresses look a bit like what would be worn)
    You really know how to pick ’em, Andy.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The girl I first thought to be Dorothy has behind her another girl also not in a white dress. Now of course it doesn’t matter which is Dorothy the tale and injustice remains. However I am glad that Dorothy was not alone and hope they had each other for support, for I am sure this is but one example of how they were marked apart from their peers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m sure you are right. There would have been many examples away from the camera, unrecorded. Judgements would not be just insinuated back then, more so than today.


  4. What if someone could have told her that in the future people will notice only you on the photo and give you support in their minds. The rest is just white dressed ordinary kids, you are the one they will remember and hopefully learn something from.


  5. Thank you for sharing that photo. Saddens me for the child……I can empathize….we all can. In some way we’ve all been on the outside, separated, excluded….purposefully or not.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s