Between March and May each year, malls are filled with more than just last-minute shoppers, speedy mall-walkers, and teenagers with nothing better to do than to wander around spending their allowance or money earned from their after-school jobs. If you meander through any department store, you’ll stumble upon racks upon racks of formal dresses and fitting rooms filled to the brim with hovering mothers and giggling teenage girls shopping for prom. But past the smiles, the “oohs and ahhs,” and under the piles of unwanted dresses, sky-high heels, and dangly earrings strewn about the fitting rooms, a less-than-glamorous accessory can be detected: insecurity.
I, for one, have experienced the body dissatisfaction that comes along with trying on clothes, and especially while shopping for a tight-fitting dress. Seeing other girls’ seemingly perfect bodies on display as they try on their dresses, perhaps the dresses you so badly want to fit you, ignites a sickening feeling that your body is a curse. Often dresses that look wonderful on a mannequin don’t fit us the same. When we carry our purses on one shoulder and a bag filled with insecurities on the other, a seemingly harmless shopping trip can quickly turn into an exhausting, anxiety-filled experience.
If you let it, this “accessory” will take over your entire prom experience. It will embed itself into your shopping excursions. It will discourage you from choosing the dress you dreamed of because it accentuates your imaginary “trouble areas.” It will whisper to you over and over that the up-do you’ve been working to perfect makes you look ridiculous. It will convince you that your friends look much better than you and to sneak off to the bathroom more than a few times to touch up your make-up. It will be like a constant buzz, reminding you that it’s still there.
But while you are wrapped up in what you look like and what everyone is thinking of you, guess what – everyone else is so caught up in their own insecurities that they only have enough judgement for one person. Not you, but themselves.
Ask anyone, and they’ll tell you that prom flies by faster than the blink of an eye. There’s no time to judge. There are so many other things to do than to gossip about others’ clothing, hairstyles, shoes, or waistlines. There are so many pictures to take, friends to hug, songs to dance to, and memories to make.
Despite the way it seems, prom isn’t just about duplicating the “perfect look” that we find on promgirl.com. It’s about celebrating the next big step in our lives. It’s about celebrating YOU – not the you you wish you were, but the you you are now in this moment, on this one memorable, one-of-a-kind night in your adolescent life.
Body dissatisfaction and fear of judgement seem to creep into many facets of our lives. On this special evening, though, try leaving your insecurities behind and appreciating your beauty, both in and out. So maybe you don’t look just like the Sherri Hill models or even your best friend who looks so good in her flowy, black dress. None of that matters. What matters is the fun you’ll have and the memories you’ll make with your friends. That’s what you’ll remember for years to come.
by Natalia Kidder
REbeL member, Shawnee Mission Northwest High School (Shawnee, KS)