The Early Bird Catches the Dress

By Elizabeth Archer

Bing. I look to the top right of my Facebook page, squinting my eyes to see the infamous red number icon that indicates a notification. It’s early March, which for me, marks the beginning of soccer season—or in other words—the time of year of sunburned cheeks, and purple, jammed fingers in goalie gloves. I scroll my mouse over to the notification, clicking on the number. “You’ve been invited to Tam High Prom Dresses 2014” screams at me from the computer screen. Prom is more than two months away. Great. That time of year again. There’s not a dress length or amount of Band-Aids in the world that will be able to hide my grass stained, scabbed knee caps. I can feel my heart beating a little faster as I mentally add “hunger-games-dress-hunting” to my list of Things I Shouldn’t Stress Out About At Night Before I Go To Sleep But I Do Anyways Because I Am a Teenage Girl.

In theory, the group is a good idea. Every upperclassman girl at Tam gets invited to Tam High Prom Dresses 2014 and is encouraged to post the dress they are going to wear, allowing everyone else to find a dress that doesn’t look remotely like it. (Good luck with that).

Along with worrying about prom, I’m also excellent at checking my Facebook account, logging in once every three days. I don’t want to be too cocky, but on a typical afternoon, I get an average of two notifications every time I log in. So, you can imagine my surprise as the notifications start rolling in around late March. The other day I got six. Then ten. Holy cow, I was suddenly up to fourteen. Even though half of them are from my aunt commenting on a photo I was tagged in and a couple are pity likes on my status about my dead cat, the other half is devoted entirely to various girls already posting their dresses in the group.

And that’s when I start to perspire. How are people so prepared, months in advance? That little heartbeat from the beginning of March, when I first got the initial notification, turns into a pulsating, rhythmic heart attack. I get nervous—really nervous. I start to think that I’m behind in my dress selecting tactics, that the Macy’s and Nordstrom and Goodwill dress selection have nothing left for me. I’m set to believe I’ll be wearing a frock made out of lambskin, or maybe a loincloth if I’m lucky. I start rapidly searching online for a dress that can be sent to my very front door. And that’s when I realize that I don’t even know my own dress size.

I know the prom dress group has good intentions. However, the group cultivates an environment that goes against the sole purpose of the group: to inform everyone which sparkly purple gown you’re wearing and to instruct others to buy something else. Sometimes, two girls order the same dress. This can end up being resolved if one person returns the dress, gets a different color, or if both just live with it. But, in worst case scenario, this problem can end up in a girl-on-girl Facebook comment war.

My favorite example of this was highlighted a few years back by two girls who accidentally got the same red dress. As expected, both girls handled the situation in a mature fashion, lashing out and blaming each other for the scandalous mistake of buying the same outfit. It soon became an online sensation as I watched my Facebook notifications come rolling in out the wazoo! Grabbing a bowl of popcorn, I sat in front of the computer, munching away as this online entertainment overrode my desire to factor polynomials. Of course, the fight wasn’t complete without the support of the girl’s friends racking up the “likes” on each individual comments. Nothing says “ooh, you got her” like hiding behind your computer, smirking as you hit the return button.

But in the end, what does it matter? Do you really care if her coral looks like your salmon? Chances are you won’t even be taking the same pre-prom photos together in the first place. I have yet to see Tam boys arguing on the Tam High Tuxedo 2014 Facebook page. I’m sure they’re all okay with wearing the same black tie. And what if you do get the same dress (or tux)? I’m wearing what I want, regardless of whether the rest of the Tam girl population wears it as well. Yeah, I might be the last to post in the group, and six other people might have the same one, but hey, we’ll all look different and individually rock it.

My advice? Don’t be alarmed by your sudden increase in popularity on Facebook— don’t worry, the notifications aren’t for you. Get the dress you want, regardless if someone else has it. And you might want to take into account that maybe you’re not the one who is behind and everyone else is early. It’s better to be fashionably late.