Thursday, May 14, 2009

On The Road To Becoming Ungirdled: My Big Fat Prom Mistake(s)

(I am forgoing the tune of the week in order to provide a public service announcement – a warning, really – to girls about to attend prom.)

Prom is coming up at my sons’ high schools, bringing back for me memories good and horrific. Oh, if I had only known then what my Ungirdled self knows now. 

Sad, but here it is.  A photo of me, my date and friends at prom in 1980.  It was up on Facebook, and some younger, sassy people asked if this was prom on the Love Boat.  They also asked what the OLD MAN (a classmate!) in the white jacket was pointing at on the ceiling!  They do not know real dancing and have obviously never seen John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever.

I am sorry to have to report I am the one on the far right in the big, white tent dress.  The really sad part is that I had that dress specially made for the occasion by one of my mother’s friends.  And I don’t recall becoming a Mormon.  I had envisioned myself looking so sweet and pretty and Victorian in this lacy white dress with my new white ballet slippers that were all the rage at the time. 

Unfortunately, you can’t see my hair-“style” too well here, because you would be SHOCKED to learn I also PAID to have my hair professionally done.  That was something girls my age rarely did – we just did not have the money.  But, this was a special occasion.  The “stylist” said she knew just what to do to match up my hair with my dress, which I described to her rather than showed her, as it was being finished at that very moment, just a few hours before the dance. 

I should mention here that our prom occurred shortly after the movie 10 with Bo Derek came out.  The “stylist,” obviously drunk inspired  by Bo Derek’s hairstyle in the movie and equally stoned inspired by the 1960s family sitcom Family Affair, swept my hair up in a big, side ponytail (remember Sissy on Family Affair? – like that.)  And then she proceeded to braid the ponytail into 30 teeny, tiny braids, that she dippity-dooed the ends of and TUCKED UNDER INTO A HUMONGOUS BUN ON THE SIDE OF MY HEAD!  It was kinda like someone had sliced off just one of Princess Leia’s big ‘ol buns from her head – only worse.   I was silently questioning the “stylist’s” creation throughout its execution, but I was confident it would somehow come together at the end.  After all, she was a miserable, talentless skank pro.

Needless to say, no one mistook me for Bo Derek that night or even Sissy.  Once I put on the “dress,” the look was “Laura Ingalls meets Aunt Jemima.”  Some have described the look as pure Granny Clampett.  One thing’s for sure: the overall “effect” was way beyond a “Glamour Don’t.”  It was more a “Glamour NO YOU DID-INT!”

My date and boyfriend at the time went to a different high school, and we had gone to his prom the weekend before.  I had borrowed my sister’s ring dance dress for that occasion, (She was smart enough to buy a gorgeous dress that she could actually try on ahead of time!) and when I look back at the photos from that night, I was beautiful.  I had on a figure-flattering dress (Despite what you see in this photo, I really DID have a waist back then), as opposed to a tent, strappy high heels, and long, flowing hair that allowed me to walk upright, without leaning sharply to the right all night.  I should have worn my sister’s dress again to my prom once I saw how my prom dress turned out.  At the time, I felt I couldn’t possibly wear the same dress twice to a big dance, even though they were separate dances and the only person who would know was my boyfriend who probably would not have noticed anyway.  I also felt if my mom's friend had gone to all the time and trouble, I should wear the dress.

Today, my Ungirdled self would not hesitate to wear a dress twice.  I also would not hesitate to refuse to pay the “stylist” who did what she did to me that evening.   

As you can see, I was Ungirdled enough to dance, as were my friends.  We did not think we were too cool to boogie, boy, oh, boy have I got news for you. We got up on the flo' and boogie, oogie, oggied 'til we just couldn't boogie no mo'.

Ungirdled Lessons:  

1.  Borrow or re-wear a dress that looks good on you.  You DO NOT and SHOULD NOT wear some ugly ass little-house-on-the-prairie tent the entire Ingalls clan could have camped in just because somebody made it.  Take a photo in it for them, then go put on a good dress.

2.  Never try out a new hairdo hours before a big event.  It took friends hours, working in shifts, to undo that dippity-doed mess on the side of my head.


  1. I was at that prom. I have to admitt it because I'm in the picture. I just want you to know that I didn't even remember that dress until this picture surfaced, but now that it has I don't feel so bad for some of my fashion don't's.

  2. Thanks for visiting Jewel! You probably don't remember the dress because you tried to put it out of your memory. As the youngest member of the group, you were also the most fashionable, as always, and wisely guarded and discerning compared to the rest of us! Hope you don't mind me using the photo - I didn't name y'all. I figured no one could tell who you were, and besides, it has made its rounds on Facebook.

  3. Dear Ungirldled,

    You're being too hard on yourself; the dress is far more Angelique from Dark Shadows than Laura Ingalls of Little House.

    Angelique was a Bad Ass! She tricked Barnabus Collins (her object of desire) into marrying her back in 1795!

    But either way, and I cannot stress this enough, you look like you're cracking a smile, and isn't that what really matters?

    Poll suggestion: if you know the real Ungirdled, is she more Laura or more Angelique?

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  6. At least you didn't have on a dress with at least 5 petticoats under it. Anyone remember the Laverne and Shirley episode where they got dressed up for some party and couldn't sit down because the dress came up? That would be my prom dress! Oh and I was at least 3 feet taller after my hair was done - that was some big hair back then.