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Prom Dress Instagrams Causing Anxiety for Students

Calling dibs on prom dresses is stirring up problems among Montclair High School’s upperclassmen.

The phenomenon of claiming a prom dress has existed for years. The idea is for students to view what classmates have already purchased, typically through a student-managed social media page, to avoid getting the same dress as someone else. At Montclair High School, there is no pressure to submit your dress, but people choose to because they want theirs to be off-limits. While it seems like a good idea, for MHS students it is ultimately causing more harm than good.

As of publication, MHS senior prom Instagram account — @mhs_seniorpromdresses24 — has 34 posts, and the junior prom account — @mhsjuniorprom25 — has 58. They are each run by a student from the respective grade. They aim to fix any issues arising from two people wearing the same dress. But is that enough of a concern at MHS to necessitate this effort? 

Considering that many people shop online now, the options pool is widened from just local stores, and the chances that two people will accidentally show up in the same dress are decreased.

“I sent mine in because my friends did,” said Julia Lynch, a junior. “I honestly don’t even think I’d care that much if someone had the same dress as me.” Other students echo similar sentiments. People may think duplicates are embarrassing and should be avoided at all costs, but this is generally not applicable at MHS. Leila Gilbert, a senior, says it “wouldn’t be the worst thing to have a twin at prom.” 

Worrying about someone else showing up in the same dress also tampers the enjoyment of the festivities. “I want to surprise everyone. I don’t care if I show up and I’m matching someone else,” said senior Kaia Hunkins. 

The central discomfort is if publicizing your dress in advance opens you up to judgment from others. Fear of others’ disapproval outweighs the fear of wearing the same dress as someone else. This begs the question: are these pages really helpful? Someone making fun of your dress can cause you to doubt your decision instead of feeling good about what you picked out.

“If you send it in, you need to be fine with people judging your dress,” Lynch said. But even preparing for criticism could not assuage her negative feelings: “Mine didn’t get a like right away, it kinda made me anxious.”

This year, the Instagram account for juniors is set to private and only allows girls of the 2025 graduating class to follow, whereas the senior page is public. Students from other grades who have attempted to follow have been denied. This can be seen as an attempt to curb rude opinions and the fear of outside eyes. But the 11th-grade cohort is brutal enough to hurt some feelings.

“They’re all basic, they’re all the same dress,” said a junior, who requested anonymity. “Don’t be mad at me if you post your dress and I judge it.” They say the quiet part out loud: Even kind-hearted people will look at the caption to see who chose that ugly or inappropriate dress.

Even those who have sent in their dresses are piling in on the examinations and every conversation is a circle-jerk of negativity. Frequent criticisms of junior’s choices, which are customarily short, note they are more suited for homecoming. They are too revealing. They resemble lingerie rather than partywear. And so on. Plus, thoughts on how someone will look in a certain dress can disillusion people’s body image.

Ava Read jokingly submitted an extravagant, bright orange mermaid-style gown to the junior prom page, in what they saw as a lighthearted attempt to troll the account. The account “proliferates elitist competition” and is a breeding ground for cyberbullying, they said. Read thinks that the account reflects how competition around prom culture has accelerated, especially with the incorporation of social media. “It’s almost cynical how easy it is,” they said, to prank the account’s participants. 

The consensus among MHS students seems to be that publicizing prom dresses weeks or even months in advance is unnecessary. Even if you can avoid wearing the same dress as someone else, the embarrassment is not the worst. Of course, every submission is entirely voluntary, and by default, the submitter chooses to open themself up to various opinions. This endeavor, which is only for people to be aware of others’ choices and to cheer on their friends, is not succeeding. 

The obvious byproduct is the cruel attitudes about classmates’ dresses. Some seniors attempting to follow the private junior page have malicious intentions and feel it should be public so everyone can form opinions. More troubles than solutions have stemmed from the existence of the page. These Instagram accounts are not productive, especially considering that very few people are worried about wearing the same dress as someone else.

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About the Contributor
Leela Ramakrishnan
Leela Ramakrishnan, News Editor
Leela is a junior who enjoys travel, hiking, writing, cozy sweaters, and Taylor Swift. She is the VP of the MHS Asian Student Union and a member of the MHS Dance Company. This is her third year writing for the Mountaineer.

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    gbemiApr 24, 2024 at 4:35 pm

    You ate Leela.