Prom plays a pivotal role in high school movies and creates a lot of pressure on high schoolers to look and dress their best. But attending prom as a plus-size woman comes with its own struggles of finding the perfect dress with the perfect fit. So, we reached out to Dia Community members to reflect on their prom experiences, whether they happened years ago or just last week. *Quotes have been edited and condensed for clarity and length.
“I picked the first dress I found because I didn’t want to deal with the hassle of finding a dress and feeling crummy in a dressing room. My friend even said she thought I could do better, but I insisted that no designers made my size. I had just cut off all of my hair but seemed to forget that when I gave my hairstylist a photo of long-haired Taylor Swift with an elaborate updo. The hairdresser said she could imitate it, but did so unsuccessfully. I came home crying about my hair and my mom helped me fix it. I quickly put my makeup on and headed out the door. But, the next opportunity to get dressed up, I did so my way and put together a look that I’m still very proud of.”
“I did not go to prom. I was a larger girl in high school—smaller than I am now—but I didn’t want to go prom dress shopping because I didn’t think I looked as good as all my friends. Looking back, it was a huge mistake. I didn’t need to let my size dictate my life.”
“When it comes to shopping for a prom dress, I recommend trying everything on in-person to find the right fit. I wore a size 16 in this photo and I still love my dress. Plus girls can wear any style they want to!
I actually ended up marrying my prom date! We have been together since the 8th grade.”
“Every year, I attend MomProm. It’s a women’s night out to celebrate womanhood and motherhood, and raise awareness and funds for local charities. The MomProm I attend in Seattle supports Perinatal Support Washington, helping mothers and families with postpartum support and services. The event itself is a true prom: There’s dancing your face off with an awesome DJ, a beer and wine bar, and a candy and cupcake bar. There are also hair and makeup services, a professional photographer with props, and a silent auction to help raise funds. It’s my favorite night of the year—a fantastic cause and a great excuse to get all dressed up and celebrate with girlfriends!”
“I didn’t have a date to any high school formals. All of my friends did, but I knew I didn’t need a guy to have a great time. I just remember going into a gown store, asking for a size-20 dress, and the girl working there telling me to go to a place that “serviced my size.” Definitely not the way to speak to an impressionable 16-year-old who was a prospective customer. I ended up going to David’s Bridal and met with an employee who was so helpful! I found a dress on the racks in 10 minutes and loved it. Plus, it was one-quarter the price of the other place!”
“When I was in high school, I never felt very attractive or worthy. So, I didn’t try too hard to find the perfect dress (or date). After a friend took it upon herself to lasso me a date from our larger social circle, I ended up choosing a jersey halter dress that was cute enough but mostly just fit. I didn’t even attempt to try and look for something woven and fitted. Though my experience definitely wasn’t extraordinary or life-altering like the movies made me think it would be, I had a pretty good time!”
“I was determined to wear a yellow dress to prom because it’s my favorite color. But, yellow isn’t always in style—and this was one of those years when yellow couldn’t be found anywhere. I scoured every mall, every outlet, and then started shopping online. I picked out a dress on eBay that was two sizes too big just to be sure that it would fit. My mom took it in for me and I finally felt like everything was coming together. When I arrived at prom and saw about seven other girls wearing a solid yellow dress, I was pretty irritated! Where did they find them? They don’t even like yellow that much! But now, I’m just happy to look back and see myself wearing my favorite color.”
“I felt like I could rule the world in my dress—it made me feel like I could do whatever I wanted. It made me totally confident. I knew my dress was perfect for me because it was hard to even consider other dresses after I had tried it on. I knew it was the one. My mom kept handing me other dresses in the fitting room and none of them felt as right as the one I ended up picking. I thought it was perfect for my style.”
If someone you know is heading to prom (or MomProm) soon, share this story and show women of all sizes that everyone deserves the chance to enjoy this special night.