Prom Pre-Show Insanity As Spectator Sport

Commentator and high school student fashionista (and MassLive contributor) Lauren Padilla is wrapping up her junior year at Longmeadow High. The tradition is, juniors can attend the senior prom. But, for her, there would be no bigger nightmare.

The amount of energy students expend upon the prom is alarming. From the bizarrely secretive dress codes, to the catty date drama.  Theoretically, dressing for prom should involve a maximum of three steps: buy the dress, find some accessories, and take a trip to the salon. Voila—you’re finished! But, unfortunately for most high school girls, preparing for prom is not that easy.

The horror always commences with the dress. The search usually begins months, and I mean months, ahead of time.
There is an extensive list of so-called rules that applies to all female prom attendees.   I’ll begin with the most ridiculous. I don’t know about the policy at other high schools, but at mine there is a certain unwritten law regarding the length of dresses. According to said law, junior girls can wear only short dresses; long gowns are reserved for seniors.

Not only must the dress be deemed the appropriate length, but you’d better be sure no one else is planning to wear it. If someone else has already purchased that same dress before you,  do not buy it—no matter how fabulous.

And, because most girls in my high school limit their dress options to Promgirl.com and Nordstrom, finding a unique gown can be next to impossible.

In a post high school world — men can arrive at an event wearing the same black tuxedo combination and behave civilly, why can’t women do the same?   That’s not to say the prom situation is any easier for guys. Over the past few years, the so-called prom proposal   — the art of asking someone to prom  is a production. And it’s escalated exponentially. Marching bands, vats of confetti, serenading. Just a few weeks ago one of my English teachers told me about a student who asked a girl to prom with a kitten. Perhaps it’s just me, but I’d much rather have jewelry, or a pair of Manolos.

Granted, I’ve never attended prom, but every other school dance I’ve dealt with has been…well, less than thrilling. Maybe I expect too much. When I imagine a formal event, I picture absolute extravagance—grand ballrooms, Viennese waltzing, white-gloved escorts in coattails. Somehow, fluorescent lighting, twerking, tacky polyester dresses and ill-fitting suits just don’t measure up.  Still, I’m not attending prom this year, so for the next few weeks, I can just sit back and watch pre-show insanity.