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Prom Dress Stress

Emma Komar, Opinions Editor

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There’s a lot happening in the world right now. America has a potentially fascist government, sweatshop labor is rampant, people are starving, and the people of Flint still don’t have clean water.

But you’re concerned about having the same dress as someone at prom?

As prom season is fast approaching, many juniors and seniors have started the long, grueling process of dress shopping. But the stigma behind having two identical dresses at the same dance makes this much less fun, and presents many potential issues.

First of all, finding a one-of-a-kind dress can cause financial strain, both for individuals and the businesses selling them. Although this may not be a problem for all of us at Pres, a considerable number of people just don’t have the money to drop $300 on a dress.

This fact considered, the shame behind sharing a dress hurts financially challenged families the most. If someone is lucky enough to find a reasonably priced dress in the right size and a good color, why should she feel forced to put it back just because someone else thought it was pretty too?

Essentially, this negative social pressure confines lower-income girls to even fewer options than before.

And even if you can ignore this pressure, sometimes the store won’t even give you the option. According to senior Sanjana Garg, an employee at a local dress shop, stores will actually keep a book of the customer’s school and grade level prom they’re planning to attend so they can refuse to sell an identical dress to anyone attending that same prom.

By giving into this socially constructed nonsense, businesses that could profit from selling prom dresses actually end up losing money. Why are even professional companies sacrificing money for an antiquated tradition?

Time can be another huge issue when searching for the perfect dress. Families with single or working parents are at an immediate disadvantage because having to rely on a car that’s needed for parental time commitments doesn’t leave a lot of room for search time, especially if a store refuses to sell to them.

Some girls just don’t have time to jump from store to store looking for a dress nobody else has found yet. If you have a specific time frame or need to have the car home in an hour so your mom can make her meeting, you’re out of luck.

Yes, they can shop online, but not being able to try on a dress can have disastrous results. Plus, the shipping fees add up and the prom deadline approaches quickly when you have to keep returning and receiving dresses through the mail.

Not only does the overwhelming need to have a unique dress cause financial and timing problems, it also contributes to social issues here at Pres. It’s disheartening to see a school that’s usually so empowering give into petty dramatics over a one-night outfit.

It even goes so far as creating a Facebook page for people to essentially claim their dresses. As soon as a dress is bought, people post pictures of them to make sure no one else will purchase that same one.

And as you might imagine, this Facebook page basically ends up serving as a breeding ground for judging each other. I’ve personally seen people’s chosen dresses picked apart and scrutinized, and even Press staff members have been observed scrolling through the page and commenting on people’s looks.

Don’t get me wrong, I totally get the appeal of having a unique dress and wanting to look beautiful at prom. Everyone can and should have the opportunity to feel special and comfortable in their own skin. But why does our sense of uniqueness have to stem from squashing down other girls?

Ultimately, prom is supposed to be a fun night to make memories with your friends and have stories to tell about how funny your date was. But the stigma behind sharing a dress ends up perpetuating a lot of unnecessary stress and turns dress shopping into a “who wore it better?” competition.

Shouldn’t we, as an all-girls school, be able to recognize how harmful this is?

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The School Newspaper of Presentation High School.
Prom Dress Stress