In addition to the anxiety-inducing traditions, there are also financial factors that can make the prom an overwhelming experience for many. Last week, a school in Wales made headlines across the UK when it discovered some pupils were not attending a prom due to the high cost of an outfit. The school’s headteacher put out an appeal on social media for people to donate gowns that students could rent for free, a service that Take Back the Prom also offers on its site. ‘There has to be a child in every school in the country that feels ostracised because they can't afford it. They would rather not go,’ says Helen Jones, Maesteg Comprehensive School’s head teacher. ‘There's enough pressure on teenagers already without that. There's a reason we have uniforms in schools.’
The school, which is based in Maesteg, also arranged free shuttles to deter the costly hire fees of fancy limousine transport to the event. ‘What we're trying to remove is the potential barriers that may prevent some pupils from attending what should be an event to celebrate a fantastic achievement to complete their formal education,’ explained Jones.
And so, with prom season well under way, it is imperative to remember that young people should not have to compromise on who they are or miss out on important milestones. It falls to all of us – schools, brands and parents alike – to help change the narrative around these outdated traditions.
Tori West is the editor of Bricks magazine, an independent, intersectional feminist publication that explores sociopolitical issues in fashion and art.
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