As a disclaimer, I posted the majority of this post almost two years ago now when there was a huge rage about proms becoming popular in the UK. Now, I’m reposting it–WITH PICTURES–as there has now become a huge firestorm about 8th grade girls not being allowed to wear strapless dresses…
Since at least the 1940s, American high school students have spent half their high school years looking forward to the Prom, at least the girls anyway. And now English young ladies will get to share in the anticipation as the tradition of Prom has now jumped across the pond. While I personally never gave much thought to England having or not having a prom, I found this video this morning and it made me think about the Proms I attended and I didn’t know if I wanted to laugh or cry at the awkward memories. (Link to Fox News Prom Fever Hits England at bottom.)
I went to prom twice. The school I attended was just the right size where they decided to allow juniors and seniors to attend prom. My first year I wore a dress the color of Wrigley’s Spearmint gum (the bright green variety) that had a few swaths of extra stiff netting sewn inside to make the skirt nearly as puffy as a hoop skirt–talk about itchy, and noisy. This lovely gown was offset with some 1940s chunky jewelry, bright green nail polish and of course a sparkly tiara. I was stylin’ let me tell ya.
I can’t remember the theme that year for some reason (must not have been that memorable). I do, however, remember a straight pin that was holding on the boutonniere of this guy I was dancing with cutting my face and someone’s gum (which, as a bonus, was bright green to match my dress) falling down the front of my gown. And I don’t mean on the outside…
I couldn’t find all of my prom pictures, but here’s what I could find. Be warned, the first image looks like if I was cut out and put in front of a more neutral background (like red satin) it could be on the cover of a romance novel. I guess I was working my way to being an adult entertainer even then. Who knew.
The next year I left off the jewelry and went strapless. Yes, that’s right, strapless! For a young woman who barely weighed 90 pounds and was thinner than a two-by-four with very subtle curves, this was quite a scary adventure. But I did it. I wore a strapless, (paste) jewel-encrusted gown that had layers of alternating blue and green gauze overlying the blue gown. Much better taste. But then I had to go put on press-on nails! And why did I do this? I honestly don’t know. Perhaps I didn’t want to bother painting my real nails, I just don’t know. I didn’t think anything about wearing them until we went bowling after the dance. That was brutal. Ever try to bowl with press-on nails? It doesn’t work. One of my most painful memories involving injuring my fingers happened that night when I went to bowl and somehow between a combination of the length of my “nails” mixed with the weight of the ball and how I was trying to spin it, two of those press-ons caught in edge of the finger holds and I’m sure you can guess the rest. It was painful in the worst way imaginable.
Unfortunately, the following is the only picture from that lovely evening I could find and not only do I have a weird look on my face, but you can’t see much of my dress and certainly not my nails. Maybe next prom season I’ll have better photos (but don’t hold your breath).
Now I’m sure you’re all anxiously wondering if I had a date and the truth is by some not-so-small miracle I did. Both times even. The first time I went with a guy I’d been dating a while who’d just happened to move out-of-state a few weeks before. He was able to fly in just in time to go with me. The next year, through not much doing of my own, I somehow managed to get my straight-laced, college student minister’s son to go with me. (Ahem, I know what some of you are thinking. But just to clarify, this is NOT the same minister as the one I have now who has the daughter my young son has declared his love for. However, this just might explain where his interest in the child of a minister comes from…)
Both dates had extremely different personalities, which led to completely different experiences to be sure. Not bad by any means, just a little weird at times.
As promised, if reading Prom memories has sparked an interest in how those in England have decided to celebrate the end of their schooling, here’s the link to watch the special on England’s recent adoption of the Prom. They seem to be rather excited about their new tradition to say the least.
Regarding the latest “no strapless” debate, I have to say, that I actually agree with the school on this one. I went strapless at 17, not 13; to me there’s a difference. I also don’t see why this has become as big of an issue as it has. I don’t think of it any differently than having a school dress code. But that’s just me and my opinions.