Prom and New Opportunities: Setting Ourselves Up To Fail?

My mother is a wonderful, funny woman. She has several interesting stories from her past which she shares with me, including one about prom. For her prom, she decided to go dressed in a long, powder blue dress. Her date somehow managed to catch his matching powder blue jacket in the car door and was a half hour late because his mother attempted to get the tar out by bleaching it, turning the entire side of the jacket white. My mother and her date went to a fancy restaurant and her date began to scream that he was dying due to a small piece of glass in his Boston cream pie. As if the night couldn’t get any more exciting, another girl at the prom wore the same dress as my mother but in green and then at her after prom she beat her date at mini-golf so he, being a very sore loser, left her there. I’m praying that I don’t have that same amount of excitement, an identical dress as someone else there, or other typical prom “dilemmas.” But it is prom season and let’s just say I’m a little overwhelmed with all the hype it’s given. I want to go, but there is so much pressure to have the perfect dress, hairstyle, make up, shoes, and all that other superficial jazz. It really takes away from what prom actually is: the last true chance for the seniors (and sometimes the juniors) to bond.

At any rate, I went on Elle.com to look for some fashion tips and beauty advice for prom and found an intriguing article called “Female Depression: Why Women Are Unhappier Than They’ve Been in Years.” The main argument of the article is that as the female movement produced new possibilities, it created new ways that women could fail. For instance, because there were so few jobs available for women, there was more competition, and it was easier to fall short. According to the article, since women haven’t had the same amount of time to experience similar things men have, we have more potential to be disappointed and ultimately depressed. With this theory in mind, I’m eligible to attend prom, an event that is always built up in movies and life in general, but what if I can’t find a dress? What if someone is sporting the same exact hairstyle? With so much pressure and new possibilities, I’m automatically setting myself up for failure.

However, I’m still debating whether or not I agree with this article. Women shouldn’t blame new opportunities for their depression, if anything it should be the opposite. Moreover, the female movement occurred a long time ago, and we shouldn’t be caught up in the past. And men have just as much difficulty getting jobs.

Being the nerd that I am, I searched through websites for information about depression. One article in particular, “Why Women Are More Susceptible to Depression: An Explanation for Gender Differences” stated that studies show females are more depressed than men, and it’s caused not only by external factors and stereotypes, but by biology. Hormones increase one’s emotions, and therefore increase one’s rate of depression. Women who are experiencing menopause in particular undergo estrogen depletion, which tends to make women feel less womanly, older, and infertile. The article also theorizes that depression is dominant in the X chromosome, and since women have two X chromosomes and men only have one, women are more susceptible to depression. Stereotypes, the same article says, can also lead to these emotions and many women feel the need to live up to conventional roles of perfection no matter what they do. Additionally, the media portrays women as extremely thin with beautiful skin and luscious hair (this is something I’ve certainly encountered while searching for prom tips), and the article states that consequently women become depressed because they feel they don’t fit society’s demands and stereotypes. Due to such high physical appearance standards, women suffer from eating disorders, such as anorexia and bulimia, and according to the article, more women are diagnosed with eating disorders than men, and depression disorders are known to appear with other syndromes.

I think that there’s some truth in comorbidity and how severely stereotypes affect women, but that shouldn’t be a reason why studies show women to be more depressed than men. Men too have social pressures and stereotypes, as well as opportunities to fail. What if at prom they forget the corsage? How will their date react? If movies illustrate prom to be extremely significant for girls, how will they face that pressure to make their date’s night perfect?

What are your thoughts on depression and gender? Prom? Better yet, do you have any fun prom stories you’d wish to tell?

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Jessie W
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