In two days, I'll be living the most magical night of my life. My wedding? I should hope not. For a seventeen year old, it can only be - Prom.
The modern prom may seem like an old fashioned event that promotes traditional gender roles and heteronormativity in the explicit wherein boys ask girls as dates, you take pictures in couples in someone's backyard with a nice pool (if you live in the suburbs) or a nice skyline view (if you live in the city) and girls spend hundreds, even thousands, of dollars on the “perfect” dress, shoes, jewelry, hair, and makeup, while boys merely rent a tux.
I am, on the other hand am fortunate enough to go to a school where, while most people do go with dates (either romantically or as friends), it is completely acceptable to go in a group of friends. I chose to go in a group, as I know few boys who would be willing to dance as much as I'd want to (the whole night) and I wanted to spend the time at prom amongst all of my different friends, as it is the last time I'll see most of them before graduation. Many of my friends also chose to fight the stereotypes associated with promposals. Most of the time, boys think of the most creative way they can to ask the girl of their choice to prom. However, my friend decided to prompose to her boyfriend instead of waiting for him to ask her, and he was both surprised and relieved!
While I am lucky to attend a school with an accepting environment, others are not as fortunate. Claudetteia Love, an openly gay top student from Louisiana, was banned from her prom for wanting to wear a tux, a decision that was only reversed by her principal after receiving a letter from the American Civil Liberties Union and support from the National Center for Lesbian Rights. In addition to that, when Constance McMillen tried to bring her girlfriend and wear a tux to prom, her Mississippi public school cancelled their prom and then allowed ''private citizens'' to host a prom so they would be not be subject to the same anti-discrimination laws and were able to make any rules they pleased. After a lawsuit from the ACLU, the school was forced to pay $35000, but McMillen will still never get the experience of her prom back.
So while I may stress over planning pre-prom pictures and transportation, I am thankful to have the freedom to attend prom with whomever I want, wearing whatever I want. While prom is still associated with the sexist and inherently heterosexual traditions, we have the power to defy those stereotypes and make prom more fun and inclusive for everyone.
Dawn Rafal is a sarcastic, adventurous New Yorker (though most of her wardrobe is not black) who will be heading to the Midwest starting in September to learn the art of Communication Studies at Northwestern University. Her hobbies include performing in theatrical productions, scribbling in her black Moleskin, and photographing city streets. Few things in life make her happier than food, from pasta, to Thai food, to bubble tea - she could go on. If you ever see a girl walking down the streets of Evanston or New York City mouthing Ed Sheeran songs and holding a coffee, you've definitely found her. One day, she hopes to start her own empowering digital platform that's almost as awesome as Her Culture.