Slaves to Fashion

Just because you can buy the same dress as Kim Kardashian doesn't mean you should

The other day, a friend was bemoaning the fact that his teenage daughter has her heart set on a $250 prom dress. Lucky for him she’s not a huge fan of Taylor Swift or Kim Kardashian. According to the New York Post, the hot prom trend this year is to wear what celebrities wear—not cheap knockoffs, but the actual real designer dress, even if it costs $1,500. The fashion director of Seventeen magazine thinks this is sweet. Really, that’s what she says: “sweet.” As in, “It’s kind of sweet to know that celebrities are wearing dresses that girls traditionally wear to prom.”

Kids have apparently also graduated from riding to the prom in white limos to riding there in double-decker Hummers equipped with stripping poles. (I’m naïve enough that if I hadn’t been told it was a stripper pole, I would have thought, “Oh, a safety bar; what a nice feature.”) Pre-prom, of course, girls will tan, fast, wax, and get their hair and nails done, because that’s what Snooki and Kim and the rest of their role models do.

“I want her to look beautiful,” my friend said of his daughter. “I just don’t think she needs to spend $250 to look beautiful. She is beautiful.”

He’s old-school, like me. We were brought up to believe that the conspicuous display of consumption (not to mention cleavage) was vulgar, and that what’s going on inside a person matters more than how perfect she appears on the outside. It’s hard to hold onto those values, though, when your daughter is pleading: “But everybody else … ”

I feel sorry for girls today, and the time and money and effort they feel they have to put into their looks. That low-cut Kardashian-favored gown may seem daring and liberated, but it’s every bit as restrictive as a burqa to put on.

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