By Lauren Reiss
Spring stressors: APs. SATs. ACTs. Junior Event. Although it may seem as though the last item on the list does not belong, Junior Event is, for some, the greatest stressor of all.
Many of us feel tremendous pressure for a variety of reasons, but every source associated with Junior Event involves the same thing: image. What to wear and whom to take are the most prominent concerns, and with these concerns come incredible anxiety, drama, and sometimes even conflict; we feel that what we wear and whom we take are reflections of things like wealth, style, beauty, and status. Worst of all, after months and months of this stress, juniors are not even the slightest bit excited to board the yacht. The stress has nothing to do with the importance of the event and everything to do with the importance of image.
While Junior Prom is scheduled for May 21, the “dress group” was established in February. If you are unfamiliar with the concept of a “dress group”—which you are not if you have overheard any junior girl conversations in the last few months—then allow me to explain. According to tradition, girls wear dresses to Junior Event and take pictures for hours before the commencement of the boat ride, so it is imperative that no two girls show up in the same dress. Thus, years ago, someone decided that a Facebook group would solve this problem: If girls post pictures of their dresses as they buy them, then every other girl will know not to purchase that particular dress, and thus, duplications should be avoided. This strategy works, but it also stimulates plenty of anxiety and drama amongst girls. The mere creation of the group planted the seed of stress that we must begin shopping back in February. Then, girls begin to post their dresses, and thus arises stress of another kind: insecurity. What will people say about my dress? Will I get enough likes and comments on my post? Is it too similar to somebody else’s dress? If so, expect conflict. When we step back, it is easy to see the absurdity in elevating the importance of our attire so much, and although many girls would agree, they would still insist that it is a necessary measure.
Other than being a waste of time and energy, the dress stress is generally harmless with minor squabbles here and there over similar dresses. On the contrary, the date debacles often end up inciting manipulative behavior and hurt feelings. This year alone, instances of date theft, racism, and discrimination based on popularity have caused conflicts regarding who will take whom as a “date.” Not only is this both ridiculous and unacceptable but also utterly unnecessary. Understandably, we don’t want to be the only person going solo while everybody else takes pictures with their dates for hours upon hours. Although some opt to go alone or with a friend, overwhelmingly this is not the case; most spend the months leading up to prom completely infatuated with finding the date that will look best in pictures and rank at an appropriate level of popularity. While this is not the case for everyone, this kind of talk circulates far too often to be ignored, and we should not tolerate this behavior any longer.
While it is true that the harm is not inherently in having an event but rather in the students’ attitude towards this particular event, it would be unrealistic to ask for an attitude adjustment. While it is technically “Junior Event,” nearly everybody still calls it “Junior Prom.” This is a tough stigma to shake, and the stressor at the very heart of the issue. Everything about the night screams “prom”; the students dress up, partake in picture-taking chaos, eat and dance at the event, and some end the night at an after-party ridden with alcohol and exclusive party buses and cliquey sleepovers and other activities that slowly erode every intention of a night meant to bring the class together. It is difficult and probably unrealistic to ask students to reevaluate their view of the event because of the very nature of the night.
Sure, we could try to make suggestions to fix the event, but this proves to be nearly just as unrealistic. This year, the Junior class attempted to change the venue of the event but found this endeavor impossible. If the event were to be held at a different venue, it would be too similar to Senior Prom. If it were to be held in the school gym, it would be too similar to Senior Event (not to mention, girls would not be permitted to wear heels). If it were to be held outside, it would be too dependent on the weather and thus impractical. Overall, it does not seem as though there is a feasible Junior-Event-altering option.
For these reasons, it is in our best interest to terminate the tradition of Junior Event, an event that only triggers negative energy and has little overall value. While issues associated with Junior Event also exist for the Senior Prom, Senior Prom celebrates the culmination of seniors’ hard work and completion of high school. Senior Prom is a last hoorah and a celebration that students can enjoy: an event like this should be a positive experience that celebrates the conclusion of high school, and the stresses that come along with it should only be endured once.