Last week was my senior prom! I wasn’t planning to write anything about it, but then I realized it was my last opportunity, as a high school senior, to have a relevant say. So how could I resist?
If you think for one second that I believe myself “too cool” for such a superficial ceremony of basic bacchantes, well — you’re dead wrong. I go HAM for prom. I LOVE getting dolled up and feeling glamorous. (While I was getting my makeup ready I blasted Lana del Rey, for Christ’s sake).
I even like the part of prom that most people at my school roll their eyes at: the actual dancing! Vigorous jumping and embarrassing arm flailing to vulgar EDM and stale tunes? I’m HERE for that. Somehow, I am really into party dancing (or, at least, trying to).
So now that we’ve established that I’m not too pretentious to judge prom fairly, I can call out some common elements of this high school ritual that I find overrated — even problematic.
- What the fuck whhat the fuckkkk whyyy do you pay so much for a limo??
Ok. Even before I was old enough to attend prom, people gave such a huge shit about stylish transportation, I thought that there must be some huge red carpet armed with cameras watching every second of your arrival. For my prom at least, that could not be farther from the truth: surprise, surprise, everyone arrives at a different time, so no one fucking sees you when you reach your venue.
I understand that teens often go out after prom, and that there’s a drunk-driving safety issue here. But still. There is no need for limousine cars to be so excessively-decked-out and expensive, with complimentary drinks and light shows and such. If you can, beg a parent of the friend who has the biggest car. You are being swindled.
I find myself with this kind of confusion towards most expensive prom price tags. But I think even expensive makeovers, hair-dos, and outfits are more reasonable than wasting money on a limo. Because I understand the appeal of looking as nice as possible: you take a lot of pictures, and prom is a photo-worthy milestone. But for a limo? (Hopefully), your ride isn’t the centerpiece of all your photos so…what is the point?
2) Whyy wh whyyy do you care so much about having a date like whoooo careeesssss?
I think it’s nice when a bf and gf attend prom together. Or when two people who are romantically into each other, but happen not to be dating, get together for prom. That’s genuinely sweet. I do raise my eyebrows when two absolutely platonic people pair up just so they won’t go to prom “alone.”
Part of the reason I hate this is because I draw such a bold line between guys I’m friends with and guys I’m into. So part of this is just me being judgy. And of course many friends pair up for legitimate reasons. But it seems like the “need” to get a prom date is a little too rabid and widespread to be healthy, and I think there’s some very real problematic social conditioning behind this trend. For one, the act of getting a date for the sake of getting a date kind of suggests that being single is bad. That can kill high schoolers’ self-esteem.
“But without a date, I can’t do any of the cute prom traditions!” Bitch, of COURSE you can! I went stag two years in a row, and guess what? I bought myself a corsage two years in a row. No way is my non-existent love life stopping me from my obsession with flowers. I know prom has grown from old American traditions, but c’mon. The whole lattice of “boy-does-this, girl-does-that” rituals is so hokey. And it’s so old-fashioned once you account for the fact that, like, LGBT couples exist.
And when I think about all the single males scoping out their female friends for possible “date” material, I can only describe it as…slimy. Obviously, I won’t accuse all boys — or even the majority of boys — of gross intentions, and I doubt most of them are entirely conscious of their motivations…but it often seems like some boys use prom as an excuse to get a one-night ticket out of the “””Friend Zone.””” At least in my school, some awkward boys with elevated thirst definitely seek out a friend that they’re kinda into, just so that they can have a fake girlfriend for the night. I hope I don’t have to explain why this is weird and harmful to the radical notion that “girls and boys can be friends.”
And honestly…what’s the point? If you want a friend of another gender to go to prom with you, then…you invite them to your prom group. You don’t have to construct an extravagant promposal. Why does there have to be a “couple-y” undercurrent of romance? Just keep it simple, folks.
For most it’s probably too late for prom advice but for those of you who have a few weeks, or perhaps years, I’d just recommend: take a breath. It’s one night. In every case, prom-a (prom drama) is definitively not worth it. You don’t need the biggest prom group, the drunkest party, the hottest date. You don’t even need to have the best time.
I once overheard a genuine argument between two classmates about short prom dresses vs. long prom dresses. Who. The Fuck. Cares. Yeah, there’s like a tradition-y vibe to this event, but if you’re not into floor-length sequined dresses and curly up-dos, like, rock those boho dresses, tattoo sleeves, and straight bobs. It’s so much more interesting and fun if you apply your personal definition of beauty to this special day.
If you don’t splurge too often, prom is a great excuse to TREAT. YOSELF. This year I got my eyebrows done and went to a pretty neat restaurant before prom. That is pretty gratifying, but there’s also great value in low-key aspirations, definitely. Last year, we simply threw a pizza party and a sleepover filled with Cards Against Humanity and weird YouTube videos. This year, two friends and I ended the night with a rom-com and a couple episodes of Jane the Virgin.