Toronto
3 min

But not too slutty

In the coming weeks, as homosexuals across the city make plans for the celebration of Pride (whatever official or unofficial form that celebration may take), teenagers will be prepping for their own big night: prom. Yes, prom, what may be the tackiest rite of passage of high school life.

I went to my senior prom with the star of the high school play. He reminded me of Fred Astaire (and, in the end, turned out to be totally gay). The best part of that story is that after my gay date ditched me, I ended up hooking up with this other dude who later came to my house and offered to help me address the envelopes for a party my mom was throwing. How gay is that?

Prom is something I think about a lot; I’ve used prom in stories, and it’s the main theme in some of my favourite films, both documentary (Prom Night in Mississippi, World’s Best Prom) and fiction (Carrie, Pretty in Pink). Aside from the wicked symbolism, I love prom because it’s a party you have to get dolled up for, also because it’s one of the few excuses most of us have to rent a limo and buy a dress we’ll only wear once.

This, incidentally, makes me think that prom dresses should be edible: like, turn into chips and chocolate at 2am or something. And then everyone could wear a bathing suit under their prom dress. Think about it.

Actually, the thing I remember best about my prom was my dress, a black and white Victorian number from Fashion Crimes on Queen St that required three layers to produce the final neo-gothic effect (the thing was like a chastity belt). My friend wore an electric metallic-blue dress that her mother made her. You can see a version of this dress in the window of Seduction on Yonge (hotness).

On a related note, a couple of days ago I was scrolling down my brother’s Facebook profile when I noticed a link the site had somehow deemed unacceptable and erased. The tag on this thing was, “See the prom dress that got this girl arrested.”

Obviously, given Facebook’s reaction, I assumed it was either made of human kidneys or cocaine, or it showed her vagina. Turns out it was just a slightly tacky gold bikini top, fishtail bottom, the kind of dress that goes with a belly ring. The girl, Marche Taylor of Houston, Texas, arrived at her prom and was told she could not enter as her attire was unacceptable/violated dress code. Taylor disagreed, cops were called, and she was taken away in handcuffs. A similar incident occurred in Alabama this year, with the issue being cleavage. The girl got several days suspension.

Is it not slightly insane that a dress that someone wears to a party, specifically thrown for them, as a future graduate of a high school, could get them arrested? This is your prom; these are our rules? Of course, you say, these are still officially high school kids, and they are therefore beholden to certain rules. But shouldn’t those rules have some purpose other than fashion policing? (Hopefully this is sounding familiar.)

I mean, seriously. A prom dress isn’t really a prom dress unless it’s a bit fucked up and something you’re going to bemoan later. Almost everyone regrets their prom dress in one way or another. Of the many people I emailed about what they wore to prom, almost everyone had something crappy to say about their prom gear.

My super stylish friend Andrea Ridgley recalls a rented dress: “a white, tight-fitting mini dress…. Vintage soft pink high heels. Hairspray. Awful.”

Performer Lindy Zucker offered up her “tight black turtleneck made out of rayon/polyester with no shoulders.” Perfect for dancing to Salt-N-Pepa. Hating your prom dress is like hating your old perm or bangs. Kids, I know it’s hard to believe, but it’s true.

I’m not a parent or a teacher, but as a sometimes fashion victim and sometimes prude, my suggestion is, unless a boob or penis is actually out, relax. Prom attenders, my only advice to you is bring an extra pair of shoes. High heels are hot but not good for dancing or scaling grassy hills (or whatever other shenanigans you get up to after prom).

Whatever you wear, have fun. Don’t let the system get you down. And to those of you out there fighting the good fight, happy Pride.