Imagine this: you're a teenage girl getting ready for a ball.
You've saved up to buy the perfect dress, had your hair professionally curled and even learned how to walk in high heels.
The best part is, you don't have to build up the courage to ask a guy to go with you. Because your date is… your dad. And he's escorting you to the ball in honour of – nay, to protect – your virginity.
For most girls, this probably sounds like a creepy plot twist in a teen rom-com. However, over in the US, that's the reality when you RSVP to a "purity ball" – father-daughter events that have been around since 1998.
A number of US-based Christian organisations organise purity balls, where dads sign pledges to help preserve the virginity of their unmarried daughters, some as young as four years old. These events grew out of the purity movement of the 1980s, when Christian girls took abstinence pledges in ther local churches and community groups in response to high rates of AIDS and teen pregnancy.
The first "father-daughter dance" was hosted by Randy Wilson of the Generations of Light Ministry in Colorado, himself a father of five girls. Since then, other groups have taken the idea on board – and other countries, including Australia, have reportedly shown interest in running their own version.
Curious about how a typical purity ball works? This weekend the Legacy Institute, run by sexual purity advocate Carrie Abbott, is holding one of its own – and it's set to be "a powerful and life-changing event" for girls aged 12-19 and their dads (or "dates" as they're often referred to). Here's the curiously Cinderella-like invitation: