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Chesterfield student uses prom dress to highlight important message

CHESTERFIELD, Va. – Graduating senior Christina McNeil has a message to share with other teens, and she chose to express it through a prom dress created by a friend.

“I want other girls to know it is okay to be different,” the 18-year-old, soon-to-be Manchester graduate said in a phone interview. “I’ve always been the one that is different, so I wanted my dress to be as unique.”

Christina was inspired by the dashiki and images seen on Instagram, and last fall she took her concept to Henry Hallager, who created it.

“He really put a lot into it,” Christina said.

Christina and her two friends went out to eat before prom last weekend.

“I got a lot of great feedback from it,” she said. “I took it very humbly.”

Christina McNeil's friend created the prom dress

The confidence Christina exudes now is the product of a lot of hard work, she said. She spoke of growing up with insecurities.

“God was preparing me and setting me up for greatness,” she said.

“They [teens] think they will get judged or bullied,” Christina said, but she hopes her messages can encourage others “to be different, to step up.”

“Don’t strive to be like other people,” she added. “Embrace your beauty.”

Christina’s sister knew Hallager, a 28 year old Army veteran living in Raleigh. He works as a program assistant for North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, but for the past four years has been involved in the fashion and design industry.

Christina used fabric from her dress to create her corsage.

He hopes to eventually make a career out of it.

Christina hopes to pursue a fashion degree from VCU or Clark Atlanta. But first, she will attend John Tyler for a business degree and prepare to go into business for herself.

And it’s that freedom she hopes others find.

“Society has this whole idea of how you need to look or be, but other people who want to step out will gravitate to you,” she said. “So in freedom you can inspire others.”

Christina isn't the only one turning heads for prom. John Marshall High school senior N'dea Johnson was recently featured in the article titled “20 stunning looks that make us want to do prom all over again."