Senior prom sets unnecessarily expensive standard of beauty

After getting ready, most students will take pictures before going to the prom.

Photo by Lia Gordon ’22

After getting ready, most students will take pictures before going to the prom.

Staples senior girls’ minds have been fixated on prom since the first dress announcement was posted on Facebook on Feb 1. Since then, the frenzy of searching and buying dresses dropped on department stores all over Connecticut. 

But now more than ever, as spring air infiltrates the building through the open courtyard doors, minds wander away from their classes and towards the approaching end of year festivities. The question on everyone’s mind is not only what they’re wearing to prom, but how much they’re willing to pay for it. 

After attending a prom at my old school in Montana, I was immediately confronted with the differences in our own community. My idea of prom went from my first experience in April for $15 per person in a barn with not enough WiFi for the DJ booth to operate correctly, to an expensive invitation to the Hyatt in Greenwich, Connecticut this June. 

Prom tickets were sold on four various dates throughout April in the school building. A single ticket cost $90, meaning I, along with other students, would shell out $180 for my guest as well. This was the first of many expenses I would be introduced to in the process of becoming prom ready. 

Should my parents’ wallets have to account for the stress we’ve all endured for one night?

— Lia Gordon ’22


Endlessly scrolling through the dresses on Revolve’s catalog, it started to dawn on me how much I would have to spend in order to attain the image replicated every year by Staples senior girls. The glowing tan and manicured nails seemed to be less effortless than it looked on their Instagram feeds with their friend groups during pre-prom photoshoots. 

Based on averages from Westport shops, about $1090 is spent on each girls’ prom purchases. (Infographic by Lia Gordon ’22)

According to a survey sent out to all Staples senior girls, a majority choose to purchase a spray tan, false nail sets, a hair appointment, a dress (with tailoring), shoes and accessories. These were only the services mentioned, not including those who opt for brow appointments, limos, party buses, corsages and professional makeup.

These practices frequently resulted in a $1000 status quo. 

I feel internally conflicted with what lies ahead of me not knowing what side of my head to listen to: should I feel stupid spending so much on my appearance for one night, or will I be the girl on prom night who will feel utterly insecure being less polished than her peers. Should my parents’ wallets have to account for the stress we’ve all endured for one night?

Staples Senior Girls were sent a survey about what services they were getting for prom night. (Infographic by Lia Gordon ’22)

It’s unfortunate that I feel the need to have every part of my visible body altered and primed in an attempt to feel beautiful, as dressing up no longer feels like enough. Even more so than my own blunders, there are students who may not have the accessibility to novelties such as spray tans and new jewelry. It is those kids who suffer the most under the Hyatt’s $90 per person lighting, not I, but it is all of us who set that standard.

Overall, I will still attend prom. I will get my hair done and buy a new dress. But while doing so, I will be aware of my costly desire to create a night that I love myself. The pressure and weight of all of that money collapsing the walls of any fancy hotel, revealing what’s left of my thousand dollar dance