by Abbi Berry
A true “prom nightmare” could possibly consist of your date ditching you for someone else, your limo breaking down miles away from the venue, or maybe even a torrential downpour occurring in the five minutes it takes you to walk from the senior lot to the small gym. However, some girls define their most feared prom nightmare as showing up in the same dress as someone else. In order to alleviate the stress of such a “calamity” occurring, prom goers use social media pages to post their dresses beforehand to stake their claim. This practice perpetuates an unnecessary competitive nature between teenage girls and an already overly appearance conscious society.
Teenage girls often find competition in every aspect of life, whether it be in school, sports, or other activities; another girl’s win is taken as a personal loss. This concept, that someone else’s success marginalizes your own, directly causes these prom dress sharing rituals. Girls find their dresses months before the dance in order to stake their claim because if anyone else shows up to prom sporting the same gown, they’re no longer unique; their appearance is diminished because another girl has stolen their thunder. The “lgjprom2018” Instagram page’s bio reads, “[direct message] us your dresses and we’ll post them so no one else buys the same one :-)” with a superficial smiley face to hide the underlying message, “show up in my dress, and there will be hell to pay.”
Girls shouldn’t feel pressured to choose a dress based on what others are wearing. The only thing that should hold you back from buying a dress is how you feel in it. You should wear the dress that makes you feel your best, regardless of others’ decisions. Even if you post your dress to the social media page, you don’t own it; neither do you have the right to be angry at someone else who wears it. If another person shows up in the same gown, you shouldn’t take it as a insult to you, but rather a compliment: you both have good taste.
Prom dress culture also places an immense pressure on your image. Prom is magnified as a rite of passage through high school, and there’s often pressure to look perfect, as if this is your lasting image. This ideology is entirely incorrect; after all, it’s just another dance. And the only pressure on it is what you create. Placing so much worth on an image you’ll maintain for five hours perpetuates the already appearance-conscious ideal that envelopes our society. Writer for Ma’yan and high schooler Arielle Soloman writes, “beneath the facade of a harmless Facebook page for dresses is a built-in constant comparative methodology for determining who looks the best.”
Prom is not about looking better than every other person on the dance floor. It should be about about both looking and feeling your best while having a great time. If you spend the entire night worrying about how others look, you’re the one marginalizing your appearance and experience. So if another girl shows up in the same dress, you can let it ruin your night and blame the other girl for your petty immaturity, or you can feel good about the fact that you picked a good dress and enjoy the rest of what is most likely your last high school dance.
[Sources: Ma’yan, CNN]