You don’t have to go back to high school to be aware that prom is still all the rage. As prom season unfolds, videos featuring the most glam looks and reveals are going viral on TikTok.
For many Gen-Z prom-goers, getting to the dance itself is far from the point. Instead, the goal is to find the fanciest prom dresses and tuxedos possible and make videos showing off the extravagant looks. Prom-related content has taken up eight of the top 25 trending hashtags on TikTok, including #prom with 19 billion views, #promdress with 5 billion views and #promtransition with 246 million views. The content ranges from advice on dresses that will guarantee you the prom queen crown to how-tos on buying a dress from a fast fashion brand like Shein to advice on making your own prom dress.
Prom is a longtime fixture of American teen culture, and an occasion that has grown more expensive in recent years. A 2015 survey from Visa found that families were spending an average of about $919 on their prom attendees. According to prom dress company Amarra, it can cost upwards of $1,000 to secure all the components of a prom: tickets, promposal, attire, shoes, jewelry, corsage, and hair and makeup.
The flashier the look, the better the chance of going viral on TikTok. The popular #promtransition trend shows videos where teens will show up at first wearing casual athleisure before smoothly revealing their evening attire. It works—Hannah Grau, named Miss Virginia Teen USA, launched a TikTok account in 2020 and has received the most views on her prom-related content. Her #promtransition video featuring a dress from Sherri Hill (where gowns can run thousands of dollars) accrued more than 25 million views and 5 million video likes.
This isn’t the first time prom-based content has had a major moment on the internet. For years, extravagant promposals and get-ready-with-me videos have filled YouTube and other platforms. Now, TikTok has added another competitive dynamic to the way teens think about prom.
“Social media has definitely ruined prom for kids. Keeping up with your peers from school is hard enough, but now you gotta compete with some random kids on TikTok spending thousands on prom day?,” one Twitter user noted.
But the shift in prom content also comes with more diverse, inclusive content including queer and gender non-conforming attendees revealing their look for their big night.
“I am loving all the queer and interracial couples on TikTok doing their prom transformations,” wrote another user on Twitter. “[It] gives me hope for the future.”
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