Forced to Wear a Dress to Prom


Forced to Wear a Dress to Prom

by Linda Sankat

My mother is forcing me to wear a dress to prom buuuuut I REALLY REALLY DONT WANT TO WEAR A DRESS. She’ll be really disappointed if I don’t go/don’t wear a dress but there’s no possible way I will be comfortable or enjoy myself while wearing a dress. How can I get my mother to let me wear a tux?
— Anonymous

Linda Says:

Assuming that you are a high school senior, I totally get where you are coming from. Senior year is really tough. You are currently straddling two worlds--childhood and adulthood--which can be very overwhelming. Ultimately, parents want to see their kids be happy, so kindly explain to your mother how uncomfortable you would feel if you had to wear a dress, and then listen to what she has to say. I did not go to my senior prom largely because I was frustrated by the thought of what I would have to wear. I knew that I would get stares if I showed up in a tux or a dress, and I simply did not feel like having to deal with the bullying that may have resulted. Such bullying may also be your mother’s concern, and I am sure it would pain her to see you get hurt.

Still, no one deserves to be disparaged for what they choose to wear. If you want to go to prom in a tux, nothing but finances should stop you. Such a decision to defy the rigid gender binary is nothing short of admirable. However, make sure there is a school official in whom you can confide should you face any bullying during or after prom. Even consider asking this individual to serve as a chaperone at your prom. Let your friends know about this person as well.  They will all keep an eye out for you, and your friends can let the school official know if they witness anyone picking on you. Let your mother know these steps that you are willing to take to ensure your personal safety and happiness on and after prom night. She will likely be impressed by your responsibility and may come to understand that your desire to wear a tux was not merely for the sake of making a fashion statement; you genuinely feel uncomfortable wearing dresses.

If you are depending on your mother financially to pay for your prom, there is a chance that even after explaining to her how you feel, she may insist that she will not fund your prom expenses if you do not wear a dress. If this happens, do not stress it, and do not be defiant. Let the topic go for the time being, and do not feel obligated to go to prom in a dress for the sheer sake of pleasing your mother. Calmly broach the topic to your mother again at another time. Throughout the course of your life, you will be invited to many more formal-wear events, and you may never feel comfortable wearing a dress. Let your mother know that it is your hope that she will one day come to accept what you prefer to wear. If you show a willingness to have open and respectful conversation with her, she will take notice, and it is likely that she will eventually come around. In the meanwhile, embrace yourself for who you are, and remember that you wear is ultimately your choice.

Linda Sankat is a college student and former staff writer at New York City-based YCteen Magazine. In her favorite pair of beat-up Docs, she determinately chases words and thoughtfully pieces them together in effort to promote human rights, social justice, and intercultural understanding. Her work has been featured in the Harvard Educational Review and the Huffington Post.