Homecoming Forces Girls to Face Personal Insecurities

Hannah Libby | Staff Writer

For senior Paige Harvey, dress shopping with friends is difficult because she can’t help but compare the way a dress looks on her to how it looks on her friends.

Homecoming might be the worst night of the year for some girls, but the dance isn’t to blame — the dresses are. 

Homecoming, a season many associate with fun and excitement, is stressful for a large number of Mason girls because of the pressure to find the perfect dress. Vanity sizing, the decrease in sizing models to allow for a better self-image, makes the task especially difficult. This system creates an expectation for women to fit into smaller sizes. Senior Rebecca Martin has personally dealt with vanity sizing for the past three years.

“I’ve bought my dresses in person the past three years at stores like Dillards,” Martin said. “But I feel like, at large stores like Dillards, they only cater to smaller sizes like twos and fours, which is why I tried shopping online this year. There seemed to be a wider variety of sizes available.”

Martin, a self-proclaimed advocate for body positivity, also discussed how hard it is to not be critical of oneself during the dress shopping process, whether it’s the size or the atmosphere. She claimed that both the hectic season and sizing goals can ruin a shopping experience before it even begins. 

“I don’t look at the lack of sizes as a negative about my body but rather the brand’s inadequacy,” Martin said. “And when we are in the dressing room, no matter the size, we only see the parts of ourselves that we don’t like, and with all the lights blaring down on you, it’s easy to get lost in that negativity.”

The emphasis girls place upon sizes, according to senior Grace Marten, is both unrealistic and unhealthy. The average size for American women is between 16 and 18, which contrasts greatly to the size 2s and 4s society promotes as gorgeous. 

“I’ve tried on dresses and been able to wear a 10 and a 4 on the same day,” Marten said. “That’s insane. I felt kind of bad about it because of how much weight [girls] put on the exact number size.”

The negativity that surrounds dress shopping is frequently experienced but rarely discussed, especially regarding homecoming dresses. Senior Paige Harvey says that has to do less with the comparison of sizes and more with self-criticism due to overall body shape.

“This year I went dress shopping in person rather than online and it was problematic,” Harvey said. “I went with someone who had a different body type than me and it was hard not to compare how you look in a dress to how they look in a similar one.”

Whether it’s unregulated sizing, unhealthy comparisons, or unrealistic expectations, homecoming dress shopping can be emotionally daunting for many girls at Mason. Harvey said although there may not be a universally accepted solution, kindness is a great way to start. 

“I think the biggest thing is understanding that your size doesn’t represent your value,” Harvey said. “What matters is if you feel good in your dress and comfortable regardless. And yeah, this isn’t easy, I would know, but it’s something to strive towards.”

Photo by Hannah Libby.

Statistics taken from @MHSChronicle on Twitter.