Back in the day, says Janice Biehn, editor of ParentCanada, we called it "grad."
"My daughter keeps correcting us."
Her daughter is Toronto teen Katie Douglas, who was also a member of her high school prom committee.
Katie offers a reminder of how prom trends have evolved over the years. But the basics never change. While the whole prom experience may be bigger, flashier and more creative, it still comes down to the invitation, the dress, the tux, the corsage, and finally, yes, finally, the prom.
Here are six ways the prom has evolved.
1. Like going to the Oscars: “It’s their red-carpet moment. Their chance to feel like a princess," says Erin Dym, editor of PromCanada, an annual Canadian magazine about proms. "The girls are all decked out like they're going to the Oscars."
And that, she notes, has made proms an increasingly expensive venture. For many young women, it's not just about the gowns anymore, which have become more glamorous, but all the accessories — the hairstyle, the makeup, the nails, the false eyelashes, the hair extensions.
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According to Visa Inc., Canadians will spend on average $804 on their proms, compared with Americans who will spend $1,086.
2. Students drink at proms? Surely a shock to some, but yes, apparently some imbibing has been known to occur at the big event. It was a little different back when there was Grade 13, since some students were legally allowed to drink.
"It was very different because there were 19-years-olds at our prom," Biehn said. "We had a cash bar because the venue wanted to make some money."
But now graduating students are younger, underage, and schools are trying to crack down on drunken partygoers. So some are being forced to take a breathalyzer check before they enter. That didn't sit well with students at Northern Secondary School in Toronto. With a little help from the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, they were able to get the principal to back down.
"It's not really an issue at all," said Douglas. "We just had an assembly about prom and the principals do give you that talk to warn you,"
3. Same-dress fiascos no more: Nothing can be worse than showing up to prom wearing the same dress as someone else. Years ago, you might have known what your good friends were wearing, but keeping track of everyone's planned apparel was impossible. But social media has come to the rescue.
“Once you have bought your dress or decided that you would like a certain dress you can post your photos so nobody else gets the same dress," Douglas said. "I think that’s because lots of people are buying their dress on online stores and mainstream stores now instead of little petite boutiques, so there’s more chance that people will have the same dress."
4. 'The big ask' becomes a 'promposal': Walking up to your prospective date and asking, 'Hey, you wanna go to the prom?' doesn't seem to cut it anymore. Kids nowadays are more creative. So they've taken a page out of wedding proposals and combined it with 'the big ask' to create something called promposals.
“It’s a fun way to ask somebody to prom — to do something crazy or big or showy. Some people like it, some people get embarrassed."
Some guys will scrawl a simple invitation on their T-shirt, or on a cupcake, or do it in a song or a dance. Others have raised it up a notch, using flash mobs, or hiring planes to fly banners. While certainly creative, it can also be disruptive. Some schools are clamping down, the Toronto Star reported, and have banned promposals during school hours.
5. Dateless at the prom? No problem: There used to be a lot of pressure on pairing off with someone for prom. But that trend seems to be softening, says Lorraine Zander, editor in chief and founder of Faze Magazine, a Canadian magazine geared toward teens.
"I absolutely think that that isn't much of a concern or stigma if you don't have a prom date," she said, adding that magazines like Seventeen have featured articles about "Why going to prom solo rocks!"
"There isn't the same pressure a few decades or even 10 years ago, I think the mentality now is that we're just as happy to go as a group," Zander says.
Douglas concurs: "Nobody is really taken aback when somebody doesn’t have a date or somebody is going with a group. We have quite a mix. There was a lot of dates at first, then it turned out there’s a lot of solos, then there are groups of girls who are going together. I think it’s getting looser. People aren't caring as much about dates."
6. Breaking the 'traditional couples' barrier: Back in 2002, Oshawa, Ont., teen Marc Hall made headlines when he took on the Durham Catholic School Board over its refusal to allow him to bring his boyfriend to the prom. Hall won that battle, and while there seems to be more acceptance of same-sex couples, every so often, some school will occasionally make headlines for banning gay prom dates. For example, this February, a school in Alabama said only "traditional couples" would be allowed to attend, but later backtracked following a flurry of controversy.
Zander said that teens themselves don't see it as an issue. "It's more an issue with the adults supervising."