Prom: Teenage Rite of Passage

Prom photo

It’s that time of year when hormone-raging teens get dressed up in their finest and engage in that ritual known as Prom (or in some parts of the country I’m told it’s the Senior Dance). An evening of dresses the girls will look back upon and wonder what they were thinking picking that hideous thing, and suits or tuxedos guys will don in hopes of looking spiffy enough to, well, hit a home run. Or at least say they did.

I only know about prom from hearsay. My school only had a Senior Prom and if you weren’t a senior you needed to go with one. My junior year I was not dating a senior so going to prom wasn’t going to happen. It wasn’t really my scene anyway because my junior year I coordinated the Military Ball. Yep, I was in ROTC. That’s for another day though.

When my senior year rolled around I knew I’d go to the Military Ball, which in the grand scheme of life wasn’t as much of the disaster that it appeared to have been that night and in the months and years following. I went to the Military Ball with my best guy friend because the guy I was dating was 8 years older than me. Gasp!. Again, fodder for another post.

So Senior Prom rolls around and I’m not going to be going with my best guy friend. Besides the disaster of the Military Ball there’s the fact that he has a girlfriend and she hates me. Oh, to reminisce about high school romance drama. That’s why Glee is so much fun! Art imitating life!

But like most things these days, if it doesn’t have extreme attached to it then it’s just plain ol’ 1980s lameness. Back in my day (as if I’m 85 years old!), if you spent more than $200 for your dress that was extreme! Yes, girls got their hair fixed up (usually by a friend, but sometimes at the salon) and shaved their legs. And had new shoes too. Guys would rent a tux and the matching clown shoes and order some random corsage for a few bucks. Honestly, I think more money was spent on the post-prom booze fest than the tux and corsage. And let’s not forget about that awkward group dinner at the local Red Lobster or chinese haunt.

Again, back in my day, the restaurant choices weren’t as vast. And if there were nice restaurants most weren’t willing to have dozens of teenagers descend upon them. No matter how nicely we were dressed. My school was’t the limo-going type so we couldn’t even trick a restaurant into thinking we were quality patrons. Most had cars or could borrow from a parent. Sure there were those who rented the limo, but it just wasn’t as usual back then as it is now.

Compared to proms today, I would have gone to the epitome of the dorkville high dance. When girls today are getting spray tanned, botox, designer dresses costing thousands and guys are shelling out thousands, it’s no wonder prom is a billion-dollar industry. I didn’t do regular prom, I don’t know how I would have ever managed Extreme Prom.

Prom has been been the focal point in teen movies for decades. Every few years there is some new movie about this teenage rite of passage that glamorizes the awkwardness. Looking back, I don’t regret not going to prom. At the time I didn’t regret it either. I actually hung out with my neighbor, one of the cutest guys in my class whom everyone thought was going to prom but no one asked. And, of course, that created rumor and drama.

Even though I didn’t go to prom, I’m not a prom-hater. I knew I wasn’t going to go because I wasn’t dating anyone in my class and the guy I was dating wasn’t the prom-date type. Remember that 8-year age difference? Besides, I had my promish experience with the Military Ball and hadn’t completed enough therapy to convince myself that going to prom would be a good idea.

I’m sure there are photos of me from the Military Ball somewhere. If any of my high school friends read my blog and have pictures, don’t let me know! I’d rather believe there are none. Although, it would be fun to go back and show my daughter. So on second though, fire up that scanner and email me all those embarrassing photos. I’ll be brave!

As I watched Glee tonight I couldn’t help but be reminded that no matter how much money is spent, how tech savvy we’ve become or fashion-forward our clothes, being a teen on the verge of adulthood is awkward. And prom is just one of the bridges we cross and one day look back upon with fondness.

What was your prom like? Was it fancy dress and limo or something more low key? And now, looking back, what are your thoughts of that evening?

Image Credit: Public Domain


Author: Sara

Sara is a life-long dreamer, creating a list of things she wants to do "someday". Realizing there is no "someday" on the calendar she's taking the steps to make her somedays a reality. Between saving for retirement and college and paying for all the usual things, many women find that they're often putting their hopes and dreams on hold. Saving For Someday is Sara's way of encouraging women everywhere to find ways to save on the ordinary so they can do the extraordinary. Sara is also a licensed attorney and writes about legal issues affecting bloggers, content creators and online professionals. This blog is for informational purposes only. You can also find me on Google+

2 thoughts on “Prom: Teenage Rite of Passage”

  1. This so made me chuckle. I also didn’t go to my prom (lots of unimportant reasons)…but I made up for it when my daughter went to FIVE over her junior and senior years in high school! She went to an all-girls high school, so both years it was her prom…and her boyfriend’s prom (at the all-boys high school)…plus another “friend” who needed a date. Ohmygosh….I couldn’t believe what all was involved, between dresses (“Can’t you wear one more than once???”), hair, nails, limo….I kept thinking, seriously what’s left for her wedding? And then there was the “After Prom”….It’s quite an involved process now, and I think our kids would be amazed to know that once upon a time people went to their prom in their high school gym with balloons and streamers for decorations, and Dad’s newly washed car for transportation. 🙂

    1. Hi Nancy! FIVE proms? Oh my! I can’t imagine all you had to do to help your daughter get ready. I remember going to a few military balls my senior year and wearing the same dress was definitely out of the question, so I understand that part. Then again, ‘back in the day’ my friends and I would exchange dresses. We were our own craig’s list! 😉

      I long for the day of a balloon and streamer gym! Kid’s don’t know what they’re missing!


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