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The Last Dance: Prom Night in America

By       Message Walter Brasch       (Page 1 of 3 pages)     Permalink

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          It isn't cheap to attend a high school prom. Emulating Miley Cyrus, Megan Fox, or any celebrity that People magazine naively believes is one of the 50 most beautiful people in the whole wide world, is an avalanche of expenses that could easily exceed the cost of a year's supply of beer for a college freshman.

 

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          Americans spent about $6.6 billion on proms in 2008, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. The cost is now closer to $7 billion as teens continue their quest to outspend, outshine, and out-bankrupt their peers.

 

          At the high end of individual costs are the tuxes. It's $100--$200 for a rented tux and mirror-shine shoes, or $100--$500 for a nice dress. About 98 percent of high school girls who attend their senior prom will buy a new dress, which will almost never be worn again, and then another $100--$400 for shoes, tiaras, earrings, shawls, and miscellaneous clothing attachments.

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          In addition to clothing costs, add $10--$20 for the boys to have a haircut, and another $30--$100 for the girls to have their hair styled. The boys save about $100 by not having to add fake nails ($20--50), and a manicure ($10--$20) and pedicure ($20--$30), a combo now known by the cutesy appellation of a "mani-pedi." The boys also won't have to worry about lipstick, mascara, perfume, and new hose.

 

          Generally, the guys won't get fake tans; their dates will. Grab another $50 for spray tans or several "treatments" in a coin-operated tanning bed. (Charges for medicine and surgery for the developing melanoma are extra.)

 

           For that special splash of color, there's a $5 carnation boutonniere for the guy and a $20 orchid corsage for the girl.

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          Some boys will rent new cars; almost half, says Your Prom, will get together with other couples to share costs of a $600--$1,200 a night limousine in vain attempts to impress whoever it is they believe they must impress. The rest apparently wash, wax, and vacuum their own cars, relatively recent pretend high performance red or black models which they park over four intersecting spaces so no one can hit their turtle-wax shine. To support the turtle, they work 20--30 hours a week at a minimum wage dead end job. When anyone asks why they don't just quit and spend the time studying, or getting involved with extracurricular activities, they say they need the job to support their car and stereo.

 

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Walter Brasch is an award-winning journalist and professor of journalism emeritus. His current books are Before the First Snow: Stories from the Revolution , America's Unpatriotic Acts: The Federal Government's Violation of (more...)
 

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