Monday, April 24, 2017

How to Beat Prom

prom, prom your way, simply scribbles

Hey, y'all. I'm back(ish).

If you're a junior or senior in high school, you have a lot to worry about. There's when to take the SAT and ACT, what college to choose, what career you're leaning towards devoting your life to, whether or not to get a job, bridging the gap between childhood and adulthood, and OMG IT'S PROM SEASON.

Yeah. As a junior, this is my first year attending my school's prom. A few weeks ago, the girls in my pre calc class started surfing the web for prom dresses, and that's when I started to realize the extent to which prom is hyped up in our society. It's now three weeks before our prom, and it seems everyone has already bought a dress from some expensive online retailer. There's even an entire Instagram page devoted to the dresses girls from our school will be wearing. It all just seems a little...much.

I used to love the idea of prom. Well, not prom specifically, but the idea of getting all fancy in a beautiful gown, to go to an elegant ball and have the time of my life. And then, a few months before my first prom, I started having doubts. First of all, prom is being held at the same venue that our winter dance is always held, aka at a hotel. They're hiring the same DJ to play the same mostly-crappy music. The only thing that's different is that the tickets cost twice as much, and so does your dress. Also you have to buy shoes. And jewelry. Oh, and if you're real fancy you get your hair and makeup done beforehand. And this whole thing about renting a limo. Do people, like, actually do that?

Basically, prom is a glorified dance injected with cash. You buy a dress and accessories you'll only wear once, and then rock out on a crowded, dark dance floor to music that is only halfway decent half of the time.

Then there's the whole romantic factor that our society has partnered this night with. You get asked to the prom by the person of your dreams, via an overly-extravagant prom-posal that probably involves confetti and a slew of photos and videos that will inevitably end up on Instagram. I'm not dissing prom-posals; just this week I helped by friend prom-pose to her date (We wrote on our stomachs so it spelled "PROM?" and then interrupted her date's lacrosse practice. She admitted to me that it was mostly for the photos. Cute? Sure. Unnecessary? Probably).

Once you've secured the date of your dreams, you match your outfits and buy a corsage, and then maybe you get photos of you together by the waterfront while the sun gleams on your perfectly clear, radiant skin. Later on in the ballroom, you slow dance to your song. Maybe you get crowned prom king and queen! Or maybe that's just in the movies. I mean, my school doesn't crown prom royalty. Actually, can someone let me know if anyone really does that?

After all my complaining, you're probably thinking, "Okay, Ella, we get it: you're not going to prom. In fact, you're probably going to picket in front of the venue with a cardboard sign and a megaphone." Well, you're wrong. I am going to prom. Mostly because my friends really want me to go and I love them too much to say no. But I'm doing it on my own terms.

My biggest issue with prom is the money part. Everything is just too expensive. Also, the dresses are all the same: floor-length, v-neck, sleeveless, in neutral colors like white or pink. So I challenged myself to find a cheap, unique dress at a thrift shop. And I did. It's a sort-of body con dress, coming to just above the knees, completely and utterly covered in sparkling silver sequins. I quite resemble a disco ball. It's different, fun, and cheap, and that's exactly what I want. How cheap, you may ask? $36.50. Hail thrift stores.

Prom isn't going to be like the movies, and it doesn't have to be a money-guzzling, you-better-get-this-right kinda deal. I don't have a date. I'd rather dance with my friends. I don't have an expensive, floor-length gown. I have a dress I like far better, for far cheaper. I've shed myself of all expectations that prom will be the pinnacle of my high school experience, because I know it won't be. Getting into college will be far more rewarding than prom. Working for months to be the lead in a one-act play this winter was more fulfilling. Going to art camp my freshman year was more life-changing than prom will ever be.

Despite the countless teen movies that end with the all-your-dreams-came-true prom moment, prom is not the climax of your teenage years. Life continues after those mere three hours, and it will take you places far greater than a sweaty, dark dance floor. You can and should have fun at prom. But it doesn't have to be a defining moment in your high school career. And it shouldn't cost hundreds of dollars. Like, seriously.

L8r sk8r,


  1. Where I live, our school never had prom or any ball for that matter but it was nice reading you view on it!
    Hope you have fun!

    -Kathie K
    Half A World Away

    1. Thanks for the well wishes! My school isn't very traditional on most dances (for example, homecoming isn't a big deal), but we do have a few staples. I actually love dancing, but I hate the whole tradition of it.

  2. OH MY GOODNESS. PRAISE THIS POST. I understand that prom is highly over rated and cost a lot for something that you've gone to again and again. Getting your dress for that much is such a smart thing! I also got mine at a thrift shop. My prom days are over but I did prom cheaply last year. Have a fun time with your friends. I hope we get to see pictures!

    1. Exactly; I'd much rather spend that money on something more meaningful/useful. Update: I got shoes for 8 bucks at Goodwill. I will never stop loving thrift stores.

      And yes, hopefully I'll post some pics when the occasion comes around!

  3. BLESS YOU AND BLESS THIS POST. I just went to prom and I had a million mixed feeling about it, your post was so reassuring. My school crowns royalty, prom-posals are overrated, people spend WAY too much on their clothes, and it is not like the movies!! After seeing a million pages about how great prom is, it's nice to see somebody that's not going to get their hopes up and knows there is life after prom. My only advice is that even if every song sucks and everyone you know is overdressed, try to have fun and make the most of the cliche!

    1. Glad to know you share my sentiment! Of course I'll try to have fun at prom; I do love dancing and hanging with my friends, but I just don't want to overhype it in my head and then end up feeling let down.

      It's interesting to hear that some places still crown royalty! Thanks for your perspective.

  4. PREACH. I decided not to go to prom this year because of how expensive it is-- it's so hard to find good dresses that aren't costly. And besides, going to prom with friends as a group is still fun.

    xoxo Abigail Lennah

    1. I know, right? Companies absolutely know that people will pay up for prom dresses, and completely overprice them. I think thrifting is definitely the way to go.

      Going with friends is definitely fun! It's so much easier to relax and have a good time when you don't have to worry if your date is having fun.


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