I suppose turning proms into red carpet events follows naturally after the madness that is promposals.
Perhaps I’m late to the whole prom game because I haven’t been prom dress shopping since my prom back in, well, a long time ago. But prom season is upon us. Moms of teenage girls across the land definitely know what I’m talking about. It’s prom-mania and probably has been since the middle of winter, but I tried not to pay attention. I did a good job, too. I didn’t take my daughter dress shopping until a couple of weeks ago. Why get a jump on things when you can do everything last minute?
When my fear that all the good prom dresses had been snatched up by all those annoying go-getters who efficiently check off their lists months in advance coupled with my even greater fear that my daughter would force me to take a day-long sojourn across state borders to a special prom store where all the dresses, I was certain, would have price tags to rival my wedding dress, I found my motivation. We high-tailed it over to the mall and hit Macy’s hard.
Macy’s to my delight was a prom dress wonderland. Before us dresses stretched to the horizon, which in this case was just the barren white wall of the department store. The dress department on the second floor of Macy’s resembled as the scene in Elf after Buddy decorated for Santa’s arrival only it was festooned with the sequins, satin and lace of 10,000 prom dresses. As much as I marveled at the selection, I also felt apprehensive. Episodes of “Dual Survival” flashed through my mind. The situation in Macy’s dress department was very much like the the scenarios in the show where two survivalists are dropped into a remote, inhospitable environment and they have to rely on their outdoor survival skills in order to find their way out. This was “Dual Survival: Prom Dress Edition.” I feared if I plunged into the dark heart of the dress jungle, I might lose my bearings and never see the light of day again. Everywhere I turned dress racks loomed. If I journeyed into the interior, I’d be bushwhacking my way through tulle and organza, becoming dehydrated and disoriented until I crumbled to the ground – where under piles of taffeta, charmeuse, beads, rhinestones and crystals I’d die, cold and alone, on the worn, grey industrial-grade carpet of the Macy’s at Willowbrook Mall.
Luckily, I have mad mall survival skills. I made it out of Macy’s alive, but not before my daughter tried on nearly every dress in the store. As we surveyed rack after rack of full-length flowing gowns, I was somewhat flummoxed. There were plenty of dresses, but none of them looked like prom dresses.
“Where’s your prom dress section?” I asked the harried sales clerk who was scurrying past buried under a mountain of ball gowns.
“This is the prom dress section,” she said as she raced past before vanishing into the vast, dense forrest of evening-wear.
I looked over the selection. “Do they know these kids are in high school?”
The dresses were pretty. They just weren’t promy. There were backless dresses and two-piece numbers and gowns with sheer bodices strategically covered with lace applique. There were side cutouts and plunging V-necks and mesh panels across the abdomen and Angelina Jolie slits up the front and slinky, skin-tight fabrics. I wasn’t shopping for Rihanna or a Kardashian, and my daughter wasn’t going to the Met Gala. She’s a 17-year-old kid. I’d kind of like her to look like that.
Unfortunately, our culture seems insistent upon forcing kids to grow up way faster than necessary. I’m not sure why. There are precious few years to be a child and way more than enough time to grapple with the responsibilities of adulthood. I’m not opposed to my daughter growing up or wearing a sophisticated dress. I just don’t see the rush in making our children look like mini adults or dressing them as if they are going to a red carpet event. If my kid was going to one or was a bridesmaid in a wedding, one of those dresses might have been fitting. Considering she’s going to a prom, I’d like to see her in a prom dress.