The problem with sexualizing prom dresses

Leslie Oh, Art Director

For upperclassmen, one of the biggest events of the school year is looming on the horizon: prom. As prom season approaches, many have already started the hunt for the perfect dress. Dress shopping starts months before the dance itself, with girls spending hours searching for the perfect dress. Prom is almost worshiped and heavily glorified in our society, with teen movie and television show characters depicting prom as the best night of their teenage lives.

“Prom is the perfect end of the year,” Brianna Rizzoli (’23), said. “I love getting dressed up and going out with my friends. We even go prom dress shopping together a couple months beforehand to get our dream dresses.”

As fashion trends evolve, a pressing issue about these dresses has emerged. The sexualization of young girls is a problem in our society, with more new prom dresses showing too much unneeded skin. New prom dresses have holes or suggestive cut outs, thigh high slits, and more sheer fabric around the bodice. While some dresses are more modest and less ugly, many question the need to show off young teenagers’ bodies with these out of place designs.

“I think that they’re advertised very sexually,” Chloe Talbot (’24), said. “Most people advertise them with cinched waists which makes you feel like you have to have an hourglass figure to wear it. Some people just have a nice body and want to show it but it doesn’t mean they need to be sexualized. Just let people be pretty and feel pretty.”

Teenagers are growing up in a society where being sexualized and objectified is everywhere, something not even worth batting an eyelash. The media constantly portrays women with unrealistic body proportions and impossibly thin bodies, specifically in movies. Teenage girls who are portrayed in movies spend so much time obsessing over trying to be thinner and prettier for the sake of being more popular. A prime example is the 2004 film, Mean Girls. Regina George, the antagonist in the movie, is the most popular girl at school for reasons like her body and attractiveness, making girls think that a good body is all they need to be popular. Many girls look up to their favorite characters as an example on how to behave, and with many movies following this problem, it can lead to normalized behavior of only valuing women for their bodies.

By having girls’ lives revolve around men and making them feel the need to show off their body for the male gaze, there can be detrimental consequences, such as body image issues and eating disorders. By feeling the need to show off their body at a young age, this can severely affect how their minds can develop. The media has a huge influence on society’s beauty standards and by having children and teenagers see the sexualization of women, they will accept it and grow up learning that sexualizing women is normal.