In case you haven’t realized this yet, high school prom night has jumped the shark. Or a humpback whale. Maybe both. No, most definitely both. Today’s high school prom night – and all the manic details and over-the-top preparations that our teen girls and boys are undertaking, all in an attempt to have the night of their lives – has truly gotten out of control.
Take for example the craze of promposals. This is where boys (or girls for that matter) devise, prepare, and present a completely creative (and often expensive, unnecessary, and a bit ostentatious) way in which to ask someone to prom. To propose, teens are using singing telegrams, balloon bouquet deliveries, flash mobs, and even fireworks displays to pop the prom question.
Often these kids are getting their high school athletic teams, drama clubs, or even their entire community involved to help make their promposal as unforgettable and irresistible as they can. Heck, there are even entire websites and Pinterest boards dedicated solely to offering the best in promposal ideas and tips.
When and how did this become a thing, and when and how can we just go back to doing it the old-fashioned way? Like somewhere after 2nd lunch and before French class, as you walk by the girl you want to ask, you casually blurt out, “Hey, wanna go to prom with me?” And she blurts back, “Sure!” And viola! You have secured a date, without emptying your parent’s bank account for a hot air balloon ride where you serenade your potential date, before presenting her with monogrammed champagne flutes and a charm bracelet that spells out P-R-O-M?
Now many parents see no issue with any of this, and think it’s a great idea for boys to plan a romantic, funny, or creative way to secure a prom date. And if they have the time, money, and good intentions, than I say you do you and go for it. But here’s the one little problem I have with giant, over the top, public performances of getting a prom date – what if the girl wants to say no? How is she able to confidently and comfortably turn down a date when a hundred people are watching, and clearly this boy put in a ton of effort and expense just to ask her?
She’s not, and therein lies the problem, or dare I say, the promplem.
But getting a date is only the beginning when it come to promsanity. Let’s talk prom dresses, and a new little prom dress shopping method (that of course involves social media) that we can just call, “I got mine first.” Gone are the days where you and some friends head to the local department store a couple of weeks before the big day, and right after you all wolf down some Big Macs and before you go get frozen yogurt, you spend about one hour giggling and trying on dresses before finding the perfect dress. Wait, it doesn’t happen like that anymore? Silly you! That was sooooo 2005.
Now, it could just be that I don’t have a grasp of the prom dress shopping experience because I have all boys, so I’ll admit to having a huge side of naiveté smothered with a heaping scoop of sarcastic disbelief. But when I heard there was such a thing as using a Facebook group to claim your prom dress before another girl, my sweetheart neckline about broke into hives. Don’t know what I’m talking about? Brace yourselves.
To ward off the horrific and traumatizing teen life disaster better known as someone else wearing the same prom dress as you, some young ladies have taken it upon themselves to create a social media feed where people post pictures of the dress they bought – pretty much the second they bought it. It’s a way of “claiming” the dress, and telling the other girls at school “this is mine, so don’t even think about getting it.” No, I’m not making this up.
The concept isn’t actually that new, as some small town specialty boutiques have kept records of dress purchases before, noting to potential buyers that someone from the same school bought that dress already. But this new social media method of putting dibs on dresses? Well, as you can imagine it lends itself to some serious trolling and keyboard shaming, because of course it does – this is 2018.
Imagine you’re a freshman or sophomore who has been invited to prom, and when you finally find the perfect dress that you feel confidant enough to wear, a senior comments with, “Sorry, but I’m a senior, and we have priority. Return it. End of conversation.” Yes, that is actually happening across the country right now.
Aren’t our teenagers under enough pressure to overachieve on everything already? Pressure from parents, pressure from peers, pressure from impending college entrance exams, and self – evangelizing essays on their achievements for college applications. Aren’t they perfect enough-even in a dress that five other girls are wearing – and with a date that simply called them on the phone to ask them to prom?
I mean, can we give these kids a damn break already, and bring back a more down to earth, simple, enjoyable, and stress free prom night free from the shackles of it having to be this way or that way because some social media account told them how it has to be?
Maybe I’m turning into an old curmudgeon who spends too much time waxing nostalgia about my high school years, and wishing my teens could catch a very much-needed break from the microscopic, yet magnifying environment they’re having to grow up under and around. And maybe they’re totally fine with all of this, and excessive promposals and $500 prom dresses that have become couture and are only meant for one person are the norm, and I need to “just get over it mom.” But something tells me otherwise. It tells me that when this (and party bus rentals, $300 dinners, hotel rooms on the beach, and champagne filled after parties) are the standard for prom, what the heck do they have to look forward to in life?
Melissa Fenton is a freelance writer and adjunct librarian at Pasco-Hernando State College. Find her writing all over the internet, but her work mostly on the dinner table. She is on Facebook at 4BoysMother and on twitter at @melissarunsaway.