Prom – is it worth the hype?

“It’s gonna be the night…to last forever”

The Disney stars of High School musical captured the dreams of young girls all across the country in 2008-9. Setting the bar rather high for prom expectations.

Glitzy gowns. Choreographed dance routines. And Dashing Knights in shining armour.

It’s a rite of passage  – the must attend event of the year, the end of an era. But is prom everything it’s made out to be? Or is it merely an over-hyped, commercialised excuse to go on a massive spending spree?

Is it worth all the stress, money and endless detailed planning?

According to the Telegraph around 85% of British schools now hold a prom during the four weeks from June to July. New research has found that some parents are spending £500+ on outfits, transport and accessories for their little prince or princess.

There is little doubt that the Americanised British prom has become a breeding ground for a culture of one-upmanship.

Your level on the unwritten social ladder is magnified and your body image and appearance more heightened and pressured than normal.

Globally, more than two-thirds of women (69%) and girls (65%) say increasing pressures from advertising and media to reach an unrealistic standard of beauty is the key force in driving their appearance anxiety. Prom is no exception. For some it’s a celebration of aesthetics.

Social media is another driving force in the pressure for perfection and negative body image. I heard at least 3 girls in my year group saying: “I look horrible”. “I don’t like my dress”. “Oh, look at her”.  In order to receive reassurance and boost their self-confidence in comparison to others.

The excessive focus on popularity can involve a distorted perspective on relationships. Dr Jennifer Crocker (Social Psychology at Ohio State University) argues that focusing on self-image goals at the expense of more compassionate goals leads people to feel competitive, anxious, depressed, and disconnected. 

On the brighter side of things – it gives you a chance to say goodbye to your peers and can be a fun and memorable night full of dancing and laughter for those who have a clear perception on the expectations vs the realities of prom. Remember to keep a strong mental attitude and fully embrace who you are.

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I will look back at my Prom with happy memories, with a few funny photos to show my family. Whilst bearing in mind it wasn’t and was never going to be my fairytale ending.

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