Prom Etiquette

April 26 2011

 As a child of the Wonder Years, I don’t quite understand or know how I really feel about my 17-year-old daughter’s senior prom. Living in a suburb of NYC, there is pre prom, prom, after prom, and post prom. All different parties in different locations, which require different outfits.

Having grown up in the city and graduating high school in a post Woodstock age, the thought of dressing up, taking a limo and most of all going on a formal date (or waiting to be asked) was just … unthinkable. We didn’t DO prom. We were hip, cool, sophisticated, and starting college after the rise of feminism.

The women I graduated high school with were not the first wave of feminists, crusaders and groundbreakers, but the second wave. We were in control and had very specific ideas as to what we wanted in our work lives, but had none such vision for our love lives. We were not aware there was something that would be called a glass ceiling and we successfully pursued and still have careers, Doctors, Business Owners, Executives, Teachers, Artists. Some married, more than once, many with children, some single parents. And yes, we had to make choices and still today encounter obstacles and barriers that we will never overcome,

So, when my daughter said to me in February that we had to go out and buy a prom dress for June, so we can post it on Facebook,  so no one else will buy it, my feelings were decidedly mixed. When my son went to his prom, I didn’t really give it much thought, but my daughter! This now had meaning and significance. Her prom had become all about making a statement, about womanhood, the values I brought her up with, her feelings of self worth, the future of feminism.

Then tonight she read me some posts from her prom Facebook group page.

“Sophs you REALLY should not be wearing long dresses, and juniors if you choose to wear a long dress please wait until all of the seniors post their dresses first. This is our senior prom...not yours….”


“I’d also like to add that if you go to another school you should be courteous to the fact that if someone from this school buys a certain dress before you, and privately confronts you about it when you post a picture, then you should politely bow out…not refuse to look for a new dress….”

“yeah guys will have your own prom eventually…”


“Prama at it's finest”

Just then I decided that I was really glad that my daughter was going to her prom, with a date, in a dress she feels very beautiful in and will hopefully have fun and a not too eventful evening. And, she will be with her friends, who like her are smart, in control, purposeful, and most of all are self-aware. And perhaps, might just have a vision for the lives that are before them.


Leslie Dukker Doty

Leslie Dukker Doty is strategic advisor and implementation catalyst, with an arsenal of tools and expertise that helps companies assess and quantify the value of their customer relationships, understand what’s currently limiting customer growth, and demolish those limitations with programs that can establish and achieve optimum customer value. She is also a wife, mother, sister and daughter.

You can contact her at and she can be followed onTwitter@leslieddoty




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