We all know prom as a night full of glamour, romance, dancing, and bliss. A night where girls are supposed to dress up like princesses, the most beautiful versions of themselves, accompanied by the boy who asked with the most twitter worthy promposal. What about the boys who want to ask another boy to be their date, the girls who want to wear suits, or anyone left in an anxious dilemma over the size of their dress?
It is hard for high school students to break out of the heteronormative mold without facing hate and resistance. Society has created an outline that defines step by step what our high school lives should look like. The typical teenage tale of boy meets girl, boy falls for girl, and finally boy asks her to prom where she wears a tight sparkly dress and they are crowned prom king and queen. Many, if not most, students find themselves outside of such scenario and are made to feel less than others because of it.
Let’s start at the beginning: boy meets girl. Fortunately, relationships that don’t include specifically one man and one woman are becoming more normalized. However, in a small conservative town like Dripping Springs, LGBTQ+ relationships are still spoken about with a scandalous connotation. As a result, many students remain closeted and fearful of not being fully welcomed at the school. Therefore, when prom comes around, the possibility of gossip and hate speech is so likely, asking their crush to the dance seems highly inconceivable. A night of inclusion and fun suddenly leaves out a large portion of the student body.
Next: boy asks girl to prom. Even for heterosexual couples, this expectation causes a lot of unnecessary limitations. Promposals are supposed to be original and showcase the most twitter worthy puns with a Pinterest standard of cuteness. In theory, putting in this much effort is incredibly sweet, but for those uncomfortable with such attention or for those who can’t afford it, this extra pressure may lead to feeling inadequate. There’s also an unspoken rule that when going to prom, the boy must ask the girl to be his date, god forbid the other way around. If she decides to, society labels her promposal as a “brave” last ditch effort to secure a date while he is branded “unmanly.” The elaborate promposals also shouldn’t be expected to come from the boy in the heterosexual relationship because it perpetuates harmful gender roles.
Finally: girl wears tight sparkly dress. I’m sure you can see the issues here for a number of reasons. For starters, girls are often put down or gossiped about for not wearing a dress that is perfectly on trend, especially if it’s bigger than a size two. Not to mention the girls who may not want to wear a dress, who would feel more comfortable in something else. No one would think twice if a girl showed up in a long formal dress, but a suit? All heads would turn and gossip would spread debating her sexuality and even gender identity, similarly if a boy wore a dress to prom.
It’s sad to think that a romantic night intended for self expression and fun would consist of plenty of body shaming and judgement. The attitude surrounding prom needs to change in order for everyone to have a memorable experience that will last a lifetime.
Written by Liliana Reyes