It's Only a (Prom) Dress

There’s an epidemic circulating in the minds of the senior female population. It is a costly one, an illness that torments the body and leaves a shimmering residue on the skin.

It is the prom dress.

Every year, a few unfortunate souls will fall victim to buying a prom dress that has been infected. The style, the pattern, the color: it was taken from them before their knowing. It was marked by something, someone else -- another girl with the *exact* same dress!

The greatest spectacle of the prom season is not the overdone, overhyped, overplanned “promposals”, but the unnecessary, often cruel back-and-forth that inevitably ensues when one student accuses the other of buying “their” dress. Yes, “their” dress, the one with the sequins and the twisted straps on the back.  

Sound familiar? That’s because it is your dress. And my dress. And everyone else’s dress. Though I don’t claim to be an expert on prom designs, I think I’ve scrolled through enough sites to say (confidently) that most prom dresses are alike in everything but color. And though there are a few deviations, these same gauzy styles have endured for years.

Although it is understandable to want some originality in a prom dress, most of the pettiness that occurs is based on futile similarities in the design that go undetected by everyone but the dress wearers. Suddenly, a tiny sequined flower placed at the hem of a dress takes on the power to ruin prom for two different people. 

But is it all necessary? Let’s face it: ten years from now, when we’re just trying to make it in our chosen fields, will it really matter that Debby from third period English wore the same overpriced dress as you, in white? Will Debby even be a fleeting thought?

Poor Debby will have no more significance than that very dress you wore all those years ago, the one that seemed like your most prized possession at the time, and that since prom night has resided in the lonely spot at the back of your closet. Yes, you may have had a similar dress, but looking back, that fact seems like nothing more than a distraction.

Despite how irrational this dress business can be, I believe that prom, in itself, is important. Somehow, this event that started as a tool for teaching social etiquette to elite university students has morphed into a nation-wide affair for high schoolers seeking one last get-together before graduation. This extreme 200-year evolution underscores its significance, but also allows for new generations to misunderstand its meaning with preoccupations like the uniqueness of one’s dress.

Let’s not lose the importance of prom to trivial things we won’t remember later. Let’s go to prom, have as much fun as possible, and try to keep some memories in the back of our mind that will make high school seem a bit more valuable when it’s all done with.

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