Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Seventeen Prom Gets It Right (Mostly)

I went to no less than 20 bookstores to track down a copy of Seventeen Prom, which was published months ago-- months before I even thought to start planning for The Most Important Night of My Teenage Life. Every store I went to said they hadn't had the issue in stock for months. I finally got a copy of it from a friend of a friend who heard through a friend that I was looking for the magazine. Talk about luck!

My prom is this Friday, and I am one of few people at my school who appears to be relaxed, or even excited, about the event. Conversations seem to skew more toward, "Lauren is crying because we invited Mike and Sarah to be in the limo with us," than "I'm looking forward to dancing and having a good time with my friends." Also popular topics of discussion among my peers: worrying about table seating, worrying about plans for acquiring post-prom booze, and worrying about the humidity on prom night. (Okay, that last one might just be me.)

Nonetheless, I am actually excited for the evening. Today I conferenced with my date about corsage/pictures/transportation. My hair/nails/makeup appointments are booked. Everything seems to be in line for a good weekend. I practically feel like a normal teen. I'm a sucker for rites of passage, though.

And so are a lot of other people, presumably, judging from the nearly 400-page length of the 2010 issue of Seventeen Prom. Surprisingly, the magazine actually gets a lot right, much more than their non-prom counterpart Seventeen, in my opinion. Seventeen Prom has lots of reasonable advice on how to do prom in a way that's low-cost, high-glam, and surprisingly unconventional. Here are a few things that stood out to me:

The Good
This hair is so cute! Definitely not the typical half-up half-down curling-ironed look that 90% of everyone I know will probably sport. Just cute natural hair, times THREE.
These nails are really cute-- fun and subtle! (two words I don't often put together to describe Seventeen)This picture! A well-dressed couple goofing off and having a good time. Sort of personifies my opinion of what prom should be.
Conceding that there were some good things in this magazine, though, does not mean that it is without flaws. A few things were downright bad, but most were just weird.

The Bad
Lots of dresses in the issue were really ugly or really bizarre. Seventeen calls this trend "High-Low" but I think "Mullet Dress" would be a more fitting name.
Maybe I'm conservative, but a silver lamé bikini does not a dress make. I can't imagine dancing in that. Same goes for the super tight, super short, super gaudy red minidress, which is so short that the model needs to hold the hemline down just for the photo shoot.
This dress itself isn't that bad in my opinion, but I am curious to hear the thinking behind putting a cutout in a place that most people work diligently to camouflage. The model looks good in it, but I don't really know anyone who is looking for a dress with a love handle window.
I don't see anything wrong with the dress in this one, I just wonder, WHERE IS THIS GIRL? There's a stage, there's a disco ball, and there's an..... exercise ball? This appears to be shot on the set of a bad 80's exercise video.
Speaking of bad 80's things.... this hair looks a little Dynasty to me.
There were, of course, lots of bits in the magazine about dates and dating. This blurb itself actually addresses something that a lot of people in my school have been discussing. The example of a romantic prom proposal, though, seems likes its really setting the bar low. (That is, unless Craig and Emily are huge stoners, which in that case, the McDonald's breakfast might just be the holy grail of romance.)
Prom Sex is one of the hugest teen movie clichés of all time. Googling the phrase brings up some really entertaining advice forums. Lots of things in the magazine allude to doin' it, some not so subtly....
....and some REALLY not so subtly.
If you think teenage boys struggle with bras, you'll get a huge kick out of watching him struggle with this number before your Prom Sex:
Overall, the magazine was pretty good. It delivers what it promises.... advice on hair and makeup, and pictures of dresses. I think that niche magazines such as this one do a better job of actually giving people what they want in terms of content. In attempting to provide one been-all end-all magazine for lifestyle, fashion, and beauty, normal Seventeen ends up tackling each area poorly.


  1. Most of the examples used in this post are advertisements, not editorial.
    I recognize the setting of that prom advertisement you thought might
    be an 80's exercise room. It's a thai restaurant in New York City- SEA Highline.
    Hilarious! I only recognize it because the lounge had the strangest
    Enjoy prom, a truly American rite of passage it is.

  2. Wow! You are a rock star at this stuff. Great writer. "Mullet Dress" and "love handle window" --Brilliant stuff!

  3. "Craig surprised Emily with a McDonald's breakfast and asked her to prom!"

    I just laughed so hard at that.

    Have fun at prom! You have the right attitude about it--a fun night of dancing with your friends.

  4. great stuff. wish i had your insight when i went to my prom...think fruit loops meets roll of tin foil. not pretty.

    ps i second the mullet hoorah. nice.

  5. I really love your attitude about this whole experiment/research thing. Listening to what you have to say on 17 completely sums up most of my own reactions to that type of magazine. This is a really cool blog.

  6. Jennifer beat me to it. My favorite phrases on this page: "Mullet Dress" and "love handle window."

    Also, to Anonymous first poster, my understanding is that Seventeen's prom edition IS mostly advertisements with editorial -- i.e. the high-low section -- scattered among them. Was that your finding, Jamie?

  7. I realize I'm way late on this post, but I just found this blog today.

    Something you should be aware of with these things: the photoshopping. The girl in the green dress (with the Dynasty hair) has been photoshopped until she would break. Her hips are about half the size of her shoulders. talk about unrealistic beauty standards!

  8. Love the blog!

    An interesting point of analysis might be the activity and passivity of males and females in the magazine. I'm just thinking in relation to the photo of the girl in the pinky dress and the guy jumping above her. How does 17 fair in terms of promoting female passivity?

    PS - what do your parents do?

  9. Where are the teenagers in these ads? Most of the men and women look like they attended their prom ten years prior. What a highly sexualized and unrealistic portrayal of teen culture. I wish we could see the real prom photos of these actors, in all their awkward teen glory!

  10. LOL I just saw the mullet dress in an article titled "How to Dress for Every Sexual Position". It was recommended because it doesn't get in the way up front and protects your legs from bugs or grass stains for all that outdoor sex.

  11. Great blog, Jamie! I was apathetic about going to prom and then decided not to go because I was so sick of everyone's tearful limo/table arrangement discussions.
    Hehe, I'm still laughing at "love handle window."

  12. I'm glad I'm not the only one disturbed by the 30-somethings advertising prom-gear.

  13. "I went to no less than 20 bookstores to track down a copy of Seventeen Prom, which was published months ago-- months before I even thought to start planning for The Most Important Night of My Teenage Life. "

    Seems overly difficult. It seems there would be alternatives. Phone calls? Library?

  14. Seventeen Prom was really hard for me to find, as well. I looked everywhere, until I finally found the last one at a Books-A-Million behind the regular Seventeen. I wish it wasn't so full of advertisments, but I like it anyway. The only actual use I got from this prom issue was the free "prom playlist" downloads, as I was using the same dress I wore to a pageant I was in. Plus it was only my junior prom and I didn't have a date or go in a limo or anything like that.

    I love Seventeen Magazine and actually found your blog by googling for an answer to thing scavenger hunt thing Seventeenmag was doing on twitter.

    This is an incredibly interesting idea and I'm slowly catching up on all your articles. I was thinking about doing something similar to you, but solely following Seventeen's relationship/dating/flirting advice throughout my senior year. Hope you're not mad that I'm sort of stealing your idea, but you've inspired me and I need something to blog about.

    This blog was a lot deeper than I thought it would be, and I think you are an excellent writer.

    Also... just wondering, did you ever win anything from the daily freebies?

  15. Did everywhere include a library, Ella? Because I checked on worldcat after I read this and found several libraries in my area with subscriptions.

  16. in the one where you talked about the disco ball and excersize ball, it was shot in this really awesome modern NYC restaurant called Highline. i recognize that club from the one time i saw it, very uniquee

  17. This post is hilarious. You are a gifted writer, I am loving your blog!

  18. where can i find selena gomez's blue dress? do you know?

  19. I know this is more than a little late, but I just wanted to point out that, if the "Dynasty hair" girl is who I think it is, that is just her natural hair texture. I just thought you might want to be aware of that, given your vehement rant against altering hair texture and not loving the hair you're born with a few posts ago.