Mothers get angry with me when I contend that they spend entirely too much money on their daughters for high school dances. The Prom and Homecoming have become a fashion arms race between mothers, and it’s pointless and it’s unnecessary. Is that redundant?
According to a recent survey by Visa, the average prom package for this spring costs approximately $1,078. That’s the average. The upper end of the range is $2,000. That’s for the dress, the shoes, the nails, the hair, the makeup, the zebra suit rental, accessories, the tickets, the meal and limo ride.
The bulk of that cost is anchored (like the chains on Jacob Marley) by the dress, for which mothers are spending about $500 on average. Mathematically speaking, and I’m not very good at math, the girl’s dress sucks up about 50% of the entire cost for the evening.
That’s insanity. One Indianapolis mother surveyed spent $800 on her wedding dress, and recently coughed up $500 for her daughter’s prom dress. Call my crazy, but $800 for the dress for the most important day of her life, and nearly the same amount (counting inflation, etc.) for her daughter’s prom dress. Really??!!
Girls wear prom dresses once, and some of them not for very long, and then the thing collects dust hanging in a closet for years, when it finally ends up in a consignment shop that accepts dated clothes from the Stone Ages, or in the Good Will barrel.
So, mothers are going to challenge me that “I don’t understand.” That’s a fruitless argument. You can’t convince me that it’s a good idea to spend ridiculous money on a Prom dress and the rest of the evening’s package. No one, and I mean NO ONE, will remember a month after the dance what anyone wore to it. I’m not suggesting that your daughter look hideous, but you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars for your daughter to look beautiful.
How about a lesson in finance for our daughters?
And here’s the other two problems. According to the survey, girls are desiring this extravagance because they are heavily influenced by reality television and celebrities. The second is that, according to Kit Yarrow, an author and a marketing and psychology professor, “…parents use their kids to proclaim their stature to other parents. They use their kids to communicate to the community who they are.” That’s just plain sad.
Most teenage boys (and I mean the vast majority) will not have any clue how much money your daughter spent on her dress. He will not care nor know how much she spent on her hair, makeup and nails. Most teenage boys are smitten with the girl they’re taking to the Prom, so if she just looks a little bit better than she does during a regular day in school, he’s going to think she looks amazing. Which he should. The bottom line is, not only will a stupid teenage boy not KNOW how much a girl spent on all that stuff, most will not CARE what she spent.
Which brings me back to my original point. This ridiculous spending on high school dances does nothing to help our daughter’s self-esteem, nor their self-confidence. It only reinforces the stereotypes that they have to spend big bucks to look good, to get attention, and to be able to say they had a more expensive dress than the other girls sitting in their limo.
P.S. Don’t forget to tell your daughter that you love her.