Love Letters from Ana: Tis the Season

Ah, formal season. Some of us love, some of us hate it, some of us wish we understood it. I’m apart of the latter population. I really don’t know how I feel about formal. I feel like, in theory, this idea of an old-school way to end the year with a date you enjoy being with is amazing. It’s the upside of belonging to a Greek organization, a sports team or being an engineer. There is also, however a downside to formal season and it really comes in via people’s attitudes.

As women, why do we get so anxious about this particular time of the year—sometimes it’s not finals that are stressing us out, it is what on earth to do with our social lives. Here are the top five formal stressors.

  1. Date, Date who?

When formal season comes around an unavoidable panic sets in especially if you’re single. By single, I mean even those who have casual hook ups, because even with options this whole date thing is a pain. Formal season stresses girls in relationships too, particularly those with boyfriends who may not attend school with them—do you go alone? With a girl friend? Is bringing another guy appropriate?

If you have your date situation figured out quickly, you’re one of the lucky ones. Like it or not, a formal projects heterosexual pressures and norms on girls. We feel as if we must pair up with someone who would be a potential mate. That’s a lot of decision-making in just a few weeks span. And once you’re past the date obstacle, you reach countless other hurdles.

If the guy you’re taking to your formal has a formal, should he take you? I’m going to side with courteously, ideally, and “proper etiquettely,” yes. Does this always happen. Absolutely not. And that stinks. Plain and simple. Not only are you not your date’s ideal formal date, but you’ve also failed to take part in my particular favorite event to watch girls do during formal season—rake up the formals by the numbers.

  1. The Formal Hopper

We all have that friend who is just dying to go to such-and-such and such-and-such’s formal just to prove her popularity. You’ll be sitting in the library writing your third paper of the week while she’s online shopping at Tobi for her fifth formal dress, “I’m looking to get this one cheaper since I spent so much on the first two,” she’ll drone while you fantasize about setting Lena Dunham on her to lecture her on proper female behavior. We all want to kill her and simultaneously may secretly want to be as shameless as she is and go ourselves.

  1. All Dressed Up and No Where to Go

To spray tan or not to spray tan, that is the question. Is formal prom now? Did I miss something? As far as I’m concerned, and I may sound like a jerk for this: formal is fun, but it’s not that big of a deal. It’s a celebration, yes. But it does not require you to break the bank on a dress or shoes. And I know, I know dressing up boosts a lady’s confidence, but my advice is be comfortable and be yourself—that’s the best confidence boost.

  1. You’re Cordially Invited to…

Does a formal invite come with strings attached—is the price of entry a written contract to sleep with your date at the end of the night? Well, he may think so, but ladies, please. That’s just grimey and if that’s his expectation, why are you going to this scumbag’s formal in the first place? You should want to hook up with him, if you do and you should not feel pressure just because his formal has an open bar and he made sure the bartender put two slices of lime in your cranberry vodka.

  1. Everybody in the Club Gettin’ Tipsy

Basically, know your limits and keep in mind that some formals have open bars so you may want to have a few glasses of wine or prosecco—alcohol you don’t usually have instead of drowning in your Vladimir Vodka at the pregame. Also, keep in mind how long you will be at formal for. The formal will tend to be shorter for people in proportion to seniority.

In closing, formals are stressful, but they don’t have to be if you just change your perspective. Taking your best friend is not the end of the world and neither is going stag. Monopolizing formals is an art form that only a few jerks can succeed at. You don’t need to look like Kate Winslet at the Oscars—just have a good time. Do what you want with your body and despite what Lindsay Lohan may have told us at the end of “Mean Girls,” the limit most certainly does exist. Most importantly don’t take yourself of the event to seriously. Happy Formal!

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