Monday, June 7, 2010

Prom: a comparative study

My sister's dress:
Grecian-influenced, a lovely color, figure-flattering -- shit, dye it white and I'd wear this now as a wedding gown. I'm so insanely jealous that this picture is how my sister gets to remember her prom. 

On the other hand:
OK, first: CAN WE TALK ABOUT THE SCHOOL BUS. My prom group wanted to be "different" and also cheap (we had 12 couples) so they hired a big yellow bus to drop us off at prom. I don't want to talk about it.
Second: the more I look at this picture, the more I dislike my dress. There's nothing particularly offensive about it, I guess, it's just "meh." Plus, it pinches my under-arm flab and makes me look stumpy. Its purchase was the result of a harrowing day of unsuccessful dress shopping. When you've tried on dozens of dresses and all of them look terrible, you'll settle for anything. Even a $14.99 dress from the clearance rack.

My sister's hair and makeup:
She got her hair done by my stylist Jen, who is a genius. I love that it's soft and not over-styled and yet it's formal enough for a special occasion. Her makeup looks really natural and blended, her eye makeup opens her eyes up like crazy, and the colors are awesome for her complexion. And I swear I'm not just saying all that because I did her makeup :P

On the other hand:
Clown City. What is UP with lip liner? I don't even want to talk about the eye makeup. As you can see, my best friend is suffering from a similar problem (we got our makeup done at the same place), but she looks a little better. My hair is just pathetic. The woman took one look at my short haircut and basically gave up. Then she was like, here, I'll curl it and pin your bangs up. And I was like ARE YOU SERIOUS. THIS IS WHAT MY HAIR LOOKS LIKE EVERY DAY. 

Also, the matchy-matchy choker necklace was such. A bad. Idea. 

(Also: ugh, the UNDER ARM FLAB. Why didn't anyone tell me about that when I showed them my dress?!

My sister's experience
As far as I can tell, she had a pretty good time. They played all of her favorite songs and she got to dance around like a crazy person with her friends and the food was awesome. Her texts from the afterparty weekend down the shore ranged from pleased to giddy. She came home content, with a hoarse voice from all the talking, laughing, and singing. I'm sure it wasn't the best weekend of her life, but it seemed like she hadn't really expected anything but a moderately good time anyway, so she wasn't disappointed.

On the other hand:
I had never been to a formal dance before, and the only exposure I'd had to prom was what I saw in She's All That and Ten Things I Hate About You and Pretty in Pink. Naturally, it seemed to me that prom was supposed to be this magical night where anything was possible, where latent romances bloom and friendships are defined. I expected nothing short of the best time of my life. 

What I got was a group of catty girls who wouldn't compliment one another, a date who was a dud, a shitty DJ (not that any of my friends would dance, anyway), an early departure (we left after 2 1/2 hours) and a rainy weekend down the shore. It was kind of the exact opposite of a magical night where anything was possible. Sure, we were a coed group of eighteen teenagers living in an unsupervised shore house for the weekend, and that fact alone should have created some kind of uncontrollable vortex of drama. But nothing happened. Nobody hooked up, nobody had any heart-to-hearts, there wasn't a wild, debaucherous party, and there was nary a poignant moment to be had. The weekend was at its best, ordinary, and at its worst, completely and mind-numbingly boring. We wouldn't have made a very good episode of True Life: I'm Going To Prom, is what I'm saying.

But now it's just part of the past. I even feel like it shaped me, in some small way, by showing me that sometimes our expectations prove to be to much to live up to, and that it's always better to focus on your friends rather than Boy Stuff. It's one of the times in my life that I look back on with equal parts bitterness and nostalgia, if I look back on it at all. But seeing my sister pose with her friends and pin a boutonnière to her date's lapel and ascend, smiling, up the stairs of the limo bus brought all of the memories flooding back, good and bad. It was a fitting start to a weekend that had me looking back on a lot of good times, and looking forward to making more.


  1. I'm a little in love with your sister's dress! I do not like pink (though my own prom dress was pink...which I don't want to talk about haha), but that really is a beautiful style.

    And I'm sorry, but I lol'd IRL when I read the story of the yellow school bus. So retro, and looking back, an amusing story! I feel like my Prom group encompassed a bit of both here; I was your sister, in that I didn't have too much expectation about the night, and one of my best friends had the dream of the fairy tale evening with lasting memories looked fondly upon. It's really amazing to hear both our recounts of the night, since hers is so negative whereas mine is (relatively) positive. At any rate, prom can always be called an experience, at least!

  2. A school bus, I feel for you. That is definitely something I could have seen my high school doing.

  3. @Ashley - The dress comes across as a weeee bit too pink in the pictures, I think. It's actually coral, with some serious tangerine undertones. And as you can see I'm more than a little obsessed with it, as well.

    @Heather - The sad thing is, the school *didn't* make us use the bus -- it was my friends' idea. Why. WHY.

  4. On the downside, yeah, it was bus. But on the bright side, it wasn't a short bus.

    ps: Pit Tits are the DEVIL!!!!!

  5. omg! I went to prom in a school bus too! It was actually a requirement. So basically we had to meet up at the school and then we all gather up to take a school bus to the California Science Center. I have to say, I had a lot of fun because in CSS there were games like virtual volleyball and all these cool exhibits to play around (since it IS a children's museum) and a mock casino. Consdering I had no date it was fun.

    In fact when you pulled up those pictures of your prom days, I went back to photo bucket to check out mine! ahh!!! I have to say...I did not know the art of plucking my eyebrows and I sure like the slouch in my pictures. And for makeup...I kind of wish I went more dramatic/playful except I don't know how. But I remembered that I was sure happy to get my braces off!

  6. i love this! i just blogged about my prom the other day. i always think of the prom and graduation around june, even though in my case that was 20 years ago.

    i think the school bus thing is great - i wish we had that, instead of dropping hundreds on a limo- what a waste of cash! i think you looked lovely by the way!

  7. possibly the best blog post ever. and yeah, I too had the expierience of hating my dress as soon as prom was over, but my mom and I made it ourselves, so i couldn't do anything about it beforehand. I forgot to really use makeup, so i looked like a ghost compared to my friends.
    ugh. prom is all hyped up to be fantastic and never lives up to the expectation.

  8. Pretty! I wish that I had taken more pictures of my prom.

  9. @Nic - I'm sorry to report that they TRIED to get a short bus, but enough people protested (plus, some other group had done that the year before). Also, "pit tits" is making me laugh so hard right now.

    @Julie - Your prom actually sounds amazing. We have a similar kind of museum in Philly and I would have loved to have prom there instead of some generic party hall.

    @Ally - The school bus thing seemed like a great idea at the time, but it's one of those things you look back on and cringe at. We were trying REALLY hard to be offbeat. But I like your perspective too -- it's true that the bus was insanely cheap; we all saved a lot of money.

    @VanillaBean - Amen, sister. Never, ever, EVER lives up to the expectation.

    @Jas - I didn't take that many pictures, either -- I stole these all from my friends' Facebook pages, aheh heh! I do wish I had taken more pictures of the afterparty instead of all of the fussy couples pre-prom stuff.

  10. Love your sister's dress! I, too, had a ho-hum prom experience with blah dresses. Oh well, glad I didn't have big dreams for it!

  11. This is such a super duper post, and I can say honestly both proms I had were nothing special. I had fed off the dreams of the movie prom and my expectations were something along the lines of romance, friendship defining moments and feeling pretty. I knew chances of getting them were slim but I never lost that hope.

    Prom at 16. Awful. Super tight curly hair, not exactly Renaissance curls now. And awful purple dress that was ill fitting even though I paid to have it altered. I was yanking it up the whole night to stop my strapless bra showing. My date was boring and wouldn't date so it was just all us girls on the dancefloor whilst the boys sat in the shadows looking cool. Or something, more bored than anything else.

    Prom at 18. I loved my dress, was an ice blue colour (your sister's dress is gorgeous by the way - pass our compliments on to her!) and I had a better night. BUT once again my date, who was also my boyfriend at the time wouldn't dance so I felt bad for leaving him on his own for most of the night but I didn't want to sit and watch my friends having fun. Definitely no romance or significant events at either of my proms :( I can't even remember anything about my make-up, I don't think I really knew what I was doing.

    I think the lessons we learned though are worth their weight in gold. And yet still I build my expectations up with, everything!

    But least you have a good conversation piece to pull out at dinner parties should a school bus be mentioned :D And for the record I think you look very pretty.

  12. This is kinda why I'm so glad we didn't have prom at our school. It seems a lot of pressure is placed on this one night and remembered for so so long. One night out of thousands we will live.

    But anyway, I really don't think you looked as bad as you make out. I don't see any of the flaws you do. OK, it's different from your sister's, but remember fashion and what looks hot changes. Yet, I don't see that, I see a pretty smile, a lovely figure and beautiful curly hair I'd love to have!