By Carly Snider
From an early age, girls are pushed to idolize Prom and view it as being one of the most important moments of high school. Portrayed in movies and television shows as being full of glitz and glamour, the reality of prom is far from that.
Prom was originally meant to be a way for upper-class high school students to have fun after a year full of hard work. It was also intended for only high school seniors. Now, with the addition of juniors, a majority of teenage girls view Prom as a way to dress in extravagant, expensive gowns, look put together in fancy “updo’s” and makeup, and attend with a date. Ultimately, this leads to girls competing with one another. Whether it be to have the prettiest dress, the perfect date, or the most expensive style, girls are pit against one another for one night.
The competition between girls can be shown through Facebook groups, as well. Facebook groups for prom dresses have become popular, where a girl posts pictures of her prom dress to “declare” it theirs, indicating that no one else may purchase that dress. This also leads to a competitiveness amongst females to outdo their peers’ dresses. Highlighting beauty over simply enjoying the dance. Prom night is just that: a night where girls compete with one another over beauty. This may seem silly, and most females may not even realize that they are being pressured into looking superb, but teen “prom culture” is no longer about the dance itself. To girls, it is about looking the best, or at least attractive and put together.
Although this may not be the case for every teenage girl, one common ground amongst most is the importance of looking expensive on prom night. A study done by Seventeen in April 2016, shows that most families in the Northeastern part of the United States spend an average $738 on prom night alone. While many girls can find and look amazing in a less expensive dress, the majority cost around $100 to $500. Shoes, hair, and makeup are another expense. Some girls choose to get their nails manicured, skin spray tanned, and eyebrows done. All of these expenses contribute to the crazy amount of money spent for just one night, which was initially intended to be just a dance.
Regardless of wealth when attending Prom, one of the most scrutinized aspects of the event is the value of attending with a date and being asked to the dance in an extravagant way. Many females, and even males, feel as though they cannot attend the dance without a date. Glorifying such a thing can not only be damaging to students’ self-esteem but also highlight the idea that “you must have someone with you to have fun and be happy.” Although many people may view this as a ridiculous claim, a high number of girls feel left out, uncomfortable, or upset at the thought of attending without a date. Being asked to Prom has also been hyped. If you do not ask someone in an excessive way, how will your date be able to post a picture of the “promposal” on social media? This competition between males of out-doing their peers to ask girls in the most creative, astonishing way is one that takes away from the ultimate meaning of Prom.
Prom, as a tradition, is an important event in most teenage girls’ lives. But, it is important to note the damaging effects a dance that illuminates wealth, beauty, relationships, and materialism can be on developing students’ brains.