Prom Season Pressure
by Christina Lin on Friday, May 22nd, 2015
When people write down words that they associate with high school, “prom” is usually towards the top of the list. In fact, prom is so highly valued that it is almost synonymous with the end of high school, dress up, and festivity. During the season of boat dance and prom at Milton, it is only fair to discuss the possibly negative implications of such festivity. I believe that occasions like prom discriminate against those who cannot afford such an experience.
The hype that surrounds prom can pressure some to purchase items that they cannot afford. The process in preparation for prom is not unfamiliar to many students here at Milton. The first step is finding the perfect, preferably designer dress, which typically costs quite a lot and will most likely never be worn again after prom. The tickets force students to shell out quite a bit of money; for example, boat dance tickets cost $40 this year, and for some who were buying tickets for their dates, the cost was $80, which amounted to ten hours of minimum wage work. Additionally, although the tradition of renting limos is not so prevalent at Milton, students in other schools do rent limos to take to prom. Girls must also pay the additional fees of getting their hair and makeup done, getting a manicure-pedicure, buying accessories, and so on. When all of these costs are added up, the money one spends on prom is really quite significant and can be a burden for families that are not particularly affluent. As a result, those who cannot afford the expense of going to prom either have to spend money that they do not have or miss out on the fun that others get to enjoy.
However, there does not seem to be a clear solution to end the discrimination. It is not realistic to decrease the cost for dressing up because those who can afford it would, understandably, make themselves as pretty as possible for the occasion, and the school does not have much power to limit what the students can and cannot buy. Unlike uniforms, which supposedly are put in place in certain schools to prevent comparison between the quality and brand of clothing, the prom dresses cannot possibly be streamlined and unified.
Perhaps one way to mitigate the discrimination is for students who can afford the experience of prom to help out those who cannot; however, students in high school are definitely embarrassed and unwilling to admit that their classmates cannot afford anything, so others may not know that they need help financially in order to attend prom. Another tactic is advertising that prom is truly about the festivity surrounding the end of the year, which can be generated with either a $500 dress or a $20 dress. What matters is treasuring the time with friends and one’s date. After all, behind the joy of prom (and I am specifically referring to senior prom), there lies the reality that the class is going to graduate and go in separate ways soon. Hence, prom is an opportunity for the class to enjoy others’ company instead of a competition of who is the best dressed and most accessorized.
To summarize, behind the festivity of prom lies the discrimination against those who cannot afford the experience. The only thing we can do to counteract the discrimination is to help each other and to emphasize that proms are really occasions for spending time with people, not for showing off beauty or wealth. Only with such help and advocacy can everyone have the opportunity to enjoy the unique experience of prom. Personally, I have never been on a yacht before boat dance, and the experience was awesome; financial difficulty should not deter one from grasping the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of dancing on a private yacht with a chocolate fountain and classmates.
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