Prom: a ‘farewell’ in a tiara

Rachael-Procter-Feature pic

By Rachael Procter


It’s almost that time of year again. Already, symptoms are showing on the surface our immaculate day-to-day lives: hairspray is disappearing from the shelves in Boots at a gradually increasing pace; Tan Unique’s annual promotions are being advertised in the newspapers; and, most horrifying of all, Quiz’s window display is already winning the battle for tackiest shop in Buchanan Galleries.

Prom season is upon us, reader, in case you didn’t notice.

So, why might a third year university student, with no younger siblings, no cousins of high school age and a remaining school friend circle smaller than the ATM queue outside of the Union even be concerned about teenage shenanigans like sixth year prom? Well, the majority of it is all rather fake, and that still bothers me.

 If you didn’t think your prom entrance was going to be reminiscent of Hermione Granger’s staircase descent at the Yule Ball in The Goblet of Fire, I’m going to riskily assume you had your own, equally-special idea of how it would feel to be seen by your friends in a floor-length gown for the first time.

They say you shouldn’t meet your heroes, and I’d like to alter that slightly and say that you shouldn’t fantasise about the event within which you are likely to encounter them either. That will probably be just as disappointing if you’re expecting Viktor Krum in a pair of knee-high boots, all teary at the sight of you standing there.

Well, prior to realising this, I had forever envisaged prom like it was going to be a day dream of brightly-coloured satin and Shloer served in crystal flutes. I did get my Shloer, several glasses of it, actually, as I waited in my friend’s house for the arrival of our bright-pink hummer. I got my dress, too – two of them as our school endured a fifth and sixth year prom system. But I realised something on those nights that I just simply could not overlook, even as those perfectly encrusted the moments unfolded before my eyes: the prom gown is nothing when your reason for celebrating relates to the people you’re going to leave behind at the closure of the night.

I fell in love with the idea of prom because it seemed like this huge event in which everybody I knew as a sheep in a blazer would look good, smell great and appear more magical due to the formal setting within which prom was destined to take place. I never thought about the implications of the celebration: prom signified the end of a school year and – in sixth year – the end of my years’ school a career. Prom was our chance to say goodbye to the people who had sat beside us the canteen every lunch time for six years and who we had copied homework from for as long as thirteen. I feel now as if I lost sight of that when I was exposed to the glitz of it all as a kid waving my cousins off in a limo.

And, should I be so lucky as to jump back in time to 18-year-old me crying at the lard pouring out of my silver bodice on the eve of prom 2013, I would grab myself by the shoulders and explain the wonder of disco pants and flat shoes. I ought to have known as early as possible that heels – as gorgeous as they look – are not worth the damper they put on the evening. Especially on prom night because that evening still remains to be the last time I saw a select group of people in the flesh. Those ‘insignificants’ who were always there to pass an awkward hello and a helping hand along the way; an audience of smiles that greeted me every morning and cushioned out my entire high school experience simply by turning up; who stand to be the only first-hand sources available to describe my true fashion choices back in the day – and worse, my love interests circa 2007.

Prom is not what it is. It’s a posh farewell dressed up in extensions and a cravat. Had I the maturity at the time of the event I’m certain I would have spent my energy on the individuals I grew up beside, and still miss a lot, as opposed to frantically stressing over the inconsistency of my bag against my heels and my dress size instead of the size of my heart.




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