PTF: Promposals

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What is a Promposal?

A new term recently popped up and is taking the Internet by storm. “Promposal”. Now, I am in my 30’s, so it’s been awhile since I was in high school and honestly didn’t know exactly what the term meant.

In doing my research, the best article I could find describing the history behind promposals is this one from the Washington Post.

In the article, they state that a promposal is,  “the eyebrow-raising high-school ritual wherein students go to elaborate, terribly public lengths to ask each other to prom.” Much to my surprise, promposals started way early than I thought, but as the Internet was not as fully developed and social media hardly existed, we were really unaware of what was happening. Plus, they weren’t as big of a deal as they are now. For more information of the promposal timeline and when it started, I highly recommend you read that article. For the purposes of this article, I want to focus on the benefits and dangers of this trendy new phase.

Just the other day Kristen Bell was hosting the Jimmy Kimmel Live show while Jimmy was out on paternity leave and they had a promposal. Talk about going all out.

Getting on the show and having Kristen Bell involved just seems out of control for asking someone to prom. First, how will he ever be able to top that for other events in his life? Second, it puts both of them in an awkward situation, almost forcing her to say “yes” as she was on national television with celebrities, and her parents in the audience.  If she said “no”, they both might end up being like the couple in the recent Red Socks game where he proposed on the scoreboard during a break in the game and she said “no”, humiliating both of them. At least in that case, he was asking someone to spend the rest of his life with him, not spending one night with him.

My personal opinion is that these promposals are bad news. I can’t get past the fact that they could really harm someone who is already in a vulnerable state in their lives. I reached out on both my Facebook and Twitter accounts to see what other people thought. To my astonishment, most people disagreed with me. My Twitter poll of 300 people, 74% thought that prom posals were cute and fun, instead of the potentially harmful effect it could have on high schoolers.

I’m going to try to show both sides of the argument, but it is really hard to let go of my personal bias and get behind the fact the promposals are just cute and fun. So, here we go.

Positive ideas about promposals. If you look at some of the movies or tv shows that features promposals, it makes a silly romcom that people enjoy, including the Disney film “Prom” or the MTV show “The Hills.” Everyone is happy ever after, a smile, a dance, good night. Is that really the end though? What happens after the fact? Or more so, what happens if the promposal isn’t scripted and real life hits them in the face. With the amount of bullying, self esteem issues, and just generally starting to grow up, do high school kids really need that pressure?

Let’s bring ourselves back to when we were in high school. Maybe we were not popular, maybe we were teased. Now, at that point we probably already know that the person we like doesn’t like us back, but we always hold out that hope. Suddenly, we see him dancing around the cafeteria and hand 2 dozen red roses to someone else. And it goes beyond that. People with money are going all out to make these grand gestures over and over again. How would that make you feel? If you are already alone and it’s getting forced in your face everyday that you are ugly or unlovable? I’m not saying that’s true, but we all have to admit that in high school, those feelings are real. I could easily see this as one more blow pushing someone to depression, self-harm, or even suicide.  And does this cause other students to try to “one-up” each other?  Where does it end?

Now, let’s put it the other way. Someone spends all their money on a promposal and the person they are asking doesn’t want to go. Are they forced to say “yes” with so many people are watching? Do they say “no” and have the person asking be humiliated in front of al those peers? This is not good either.

To me, the answer is very clear and that schools should ban them. However, it seems to be going more and more over the top. MTV just started airing a new show called “Promposal” (or as my friend put it, the prequel to “16 and Pregnant”) so I sat down and watched it. Maybe I was in the wrong, maybe it is harmless and fun. Then I noticed that the girl got permission from the Vice Principle to have everyone from cheerleading, dancing team, basketball, and football pulled out of class to help with the promposal. Are you kidding me? Now these kids are missing out on their education in order for a promposal to happen and the school approved it.

Sure, prom was fun, but it’s nothing like the real world. If they do all this now, what do they have to look forward to in the future?  Do they have to make a wedding proposal even bigger?  Or a pregnancy announcement?

I honestly worry about this. I worry for the person who isn’t asked, I worry about the person who doesn’t have the money to ask in an elaborate way, I worry that the person asking will get turned down. Where is the good old fashioned note being passed around that says, “Will you go to prom with me? Check Yes or No”?

I want to hear from you. What do you think?

A. Imus
A. Imus

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