On Friday, I picked up an issue of Seventeen magazine, specifically the prom issue, because I was feeling a little nostalgic. (I eagerly awaited the prom issue every year, back when I subscribed.) Because I have an event coming up that I might be attending which would require formal wear, I was really looking forward to coming back from my lunch and flipping through hundreds of pages of pretty princess dresses.
Obviously, that didn’t happen, or you wouldn’t be reading this blog. Instead, my jaw dropped as I went through page after page of the most horribly ugly dresses I have ever seen in my life. Dresses that looked like they were made of cellophane or latex. Dresses with metal studs and enough accordion pleating to make even the most petite girl look like the Liberty Bell. Tie-dyed, fluorescent, psychedelic palm-frond print dresses. Most memorably, a dress which combined an oversized floral motif and a pink and blue leopard print with no success whatsoever.
Now, I know styles change. I know it’s been ten years since I attended my own prom. However, this is reminding me very much of a mistake I made in choosing my own prom dress, a mistake I don’t want you to make. I chose my dress based on the body I wished I had, not on the body I actually had. As a result, I shudder every time I see my prom pictures. (Part of that, admittedly, could be about my date, but I really think most of it is about the dress.)
Prom is a huge deal. You’re going to have these pictures and these memories for the rest of your life. So, please, choose carefully, and be true to yourself. If you feel that orange and green zebra print is really you, then put it on and rock it. But, if you’re only trying on that metallic paisley maxi-dress because Seventeen says prints are really in, take a moment and ask yourself, “What would Penelope Cruz do?” Then try something on that you know suits you.
Jacquelyn Sylvan is the author of Surviving Serendipity, a YA fantasy that takes place in a world where damsels in distress are so last season. Buy it here, or download to your Kindle here!