Which is why I was taken aback when, upon purchasing my column fodder the other night, I happened upon a pile of prom magazines. Correct me if I'm wrong, but it's still February, no? We're sure forcing these kids to grow up fast, what with the SATs and the MySpace and the orthodontics and all.
Of the eight titles populating the shelf, Your Prom appeared the most professional on its surface. I hesitate to call it a magazine, though, as indistinguishable dress ads occupy a solid 250 or so of its 354 pages. It ranks as the rare title which boasts so little content that nearly every item can be referenced on its cover. Indeed, Your Prom is more or less a catalog, albeit one with a total absence of even slightly overweight women and a surfeit of prommed-up white chicks slathered in whorey makeup.
While I realize that such magalogs (catazines?) exist solely to give prom neophytes fodder for thought, Your Prom buries and/or undersells nearly all of its actual content. The trilogy of best-prom-look fashion spreads commences on page 307, or roughly 175 pages after most readers will have tired of looking at the homogeneous images. As for the smaller items, if you're only going to devote a single middle-of-nowhere page to readers' photos, why bother with them at all?
Nothing here transcends typical teen-mag fodder. Punctuality, according to the A-to-Z trend guide, is "hot"; gangsta poses in prom photos are "not." It is possible to match a dress to one's personality (though I can't imagine what kind of gal would wear an "iridescent bubble-gum-pink drop-waist organza dress with a ruffle skirt" -- perhaps a color-blind schizophrenic?). Tales of prom traumas past are confined to tripping and blotchy skin, rather than the rapid-fire expulsion of the aforementioned wine coolers.
For a guy just a bit outside the mag's target audience, there's a lot to learn. Owing to my refusal to appear in public after getting "the world's suckiest haircut," the "prom personality" quiz brands me as a "pessimistic partyer." My prom horoscope suggests that I should "channel my inner Beyoncé" in the months ahead, a contingency for which the tri-state area is profoundly unprepared. And the reason my prom experience fell flat may well have been that, five months out, I failed to "close [my] eyes and imagine the kind of prom [I] want." I was a simple kid; anything involving lasers and alcohol would've sufficed.
I do give Your Prom credit for its multiethnic bent. The Spring issue devotes a huge chunk o' space to coverage of and ideas for Quinceañera celebrations -- which, with their candle ceremonies and crowns, sound like a seriously pimped-out Bat Mitzvah. Too, the few pages of actual content do a lot with the crumbs of space afforded them. The layouts are bright and sprightly, unmarred by the graphic ADD that afflicts most teen publications.
In conclusion, I'm very old. Is Your Prom kinda dim? Of course. But a "realistic" prom magazine -- one that more than passingly occupies itself with messy things like prom-night budgets and unsettled hormones -- won't move a lot of copies. For the average starry-eyed suburban teen, Your Prom is worth crashing.