Wearing little to no makeup, their hair in messy buns, senior and junior girls across Minnesota are snapping pictures in their prom dresses and posting them on private Facebook groups.
These mirror selfies of lavish dresses, taken in store fitting rooms without any glitz and glam, aren’t just for fun. The pictures are a way to make a claim on a dress well before the big dance.
Social media has brought a new level of excitement to the annual spring event, including “promposals,” where students post videos of the special ways they ask someone to prom.
Now it’s being used as the go-to place for girls to dodge the ultimate formal faux pas: walking through Grand March with your date, only to see another girl in the exact same dress.
While it may not sound like a big deal, it can be for the girls, who might spend months shopping for the right dress and drop hundreds of dollars to buy it. That’s why prom Facebook pages have started popping up in Waconia, New Prague, Mounds View and other high schools around the Twin Cities.
“The prom page is really so we don’t get multiples of dresses, because everybody wants it to be their special night,” said McKenna Banyai, a senior at Waconia High School.
Being invited to join a prom page has even become a rite of passage for some girls. The groups are sometimes passed down from a graduating senior to a girl who’ll be a senior the following fall. Come spring, that girl will invite her classmates to join. At some schools, however, a senior girl will create and curate her own page.
Not all schools have prom pages, but Waconia has more than 200 girls in its group, said Banyai, who started the Facebook page for her high school early this year.
Banyai promptly ordered her dress and posted it on the page — in January.
“I ordered it early,” said Banyai, who added that she’d “rather have it be sitting in my closet for four months rather than be panicking.”
Many of her classmates followed suit, posting pictures of their dresses well ahead of their May 6 prom.
Once a senior girl posts her picture, the likes and heart emojis start flooding in. If two girls have selected the same dress, they’re encouraged to talk about it. For the most part, the conversations are very diplomatic.
Sometimes, though, the comments can take a bad turn.
“There are some people that ruin it,” said Ali-Jae Nicolai, a New Prague junior.
Then it’s up to the curator, or the girls themselves, to police the page.
Countdown to prom
In early April, Nicolai rummaged through the racks at the Mall of America Macy’s with her friend, Annie Schoenbauer. The two wove in and out of the aisles, filling their arms with dresses, singing along to Rihanna’s “ We Found Love” playing on the store speakers.
They each tried on about eight dresses — from strapless and slim-fitting to bejeweled and bouffant — but couldn’t find the right ones. With New Prague’s prom just weeks away, they were cutting it close.
Nicolai, who was invited to the New Prague Facebook group by a senior classmate, admitted she has mixed emotions about the group. Even if two girls are wearing the same dress, they’re likely to add their own spin with accessories so that no one would even notice the dress duplication.
Besides, she added, “once you’re at prom, everyone is there to have a good time.”
Schoenbauer, also a junior, is in the prom group, too. Still, she plans on keeping her dress a secret until prom night.
Most groups operate with the understanding that all the dresses are kept secret from one prom-going population: their dates.
Jocelyn Landwehr, a junior at Mounds View High School, said she is constantly checking her notifications in hopes of seeing more prom dress pictures from her peers.
“It’s fun because it is all girls,” she said.
The Facebook prom pages are strictly no boys allowed. Of course, they could start their own. Unless, of course, they don’t mind wearing the same tux.