This isn't exactly a feminist issue - well, it sort of is because, as usual, it's pressure on girls to look good etc - but I need somewhere to let off steam!
Making plans for daughter to attend Year 11 prom next month - OMG - who invented this nonsense, what was wrong with the end of term disco?? I have resisted as much of the pressure and expense as possible (she is doing her own hair/make-up/nails and is being transported to the event in friend's Dad's car done up with balloons) and I have been extremely fortunate to find an evening dress in the sales reduced form over £200 to £80, and a friend is going to take the hem up for free. But, still, the whole peer pressure/extravaganza is ridiculous! Why do they have to have evening dresses?? Also my daughter does not attend a posh private school, just an ordinary state comprehensive.
How/when did all of this start? And why have the schools supported it?The trouble is, it's so established, it seems, and so taken for granted that all the girls will be involved in this, that it is very difficult to be the parent who says, "No, you are 16, I am not doing this!" Well, I didn't feel I could refuse or make a stand anyway. I love my daughter, I don't want her to be sad and not involved in something all her firends are involved in, but I don't agree with it.
I think a 'prom' or 'ball' is a bit of a right of passage and while I agree with your stance on minimising the expense, I think you'd disappoint her if you were too catsbum about it all. Try to embrace her and respect her. Nothing wrong with feminine rights of passage, in my view. Tell her how wonderful and beautiful she looks. That's not anti-feminist, that's just being a lovely mum.
when I was 16 we just had year 11 leavers disco and we wore our normal going out clothes. We did have a ball type event at the end of sixth form but i don't remember people shelling out loads of money for expensive dresses and there were certainly no limos. It is madness that there is now graduation ceremonies from playschool and proms for toddlers. However, it is how it is and you don't want to spoil it for her - you are right to minimise the expense of the event and you are probably not the only parent who is doing that.