An Outdated Stigma

Fine Arts Department Chair Ed Long ritually tells a story to his History of Art and Music classes about a past student who took not one, not two, but THREE dates to Winter Formal. Unlike this girl, most of us will most likely not take three different people and change into three different dresses throughout the course of the night, but will instead struggle in deciding whether or not to take a date at all.

Dibs on dates start manifesting with the theme reveal video. Possibly even earlier.

The most difficult decisions to make during this time of year are not which dress to wear for Winter Formal or where to go for pictures, but whether to take a date or not. At least for some, an unsaid judgement seems to exist surrounding the idea of going alone.

Beliefs surrounding whether a stigma exists in going stag is pretty split. Approximately 48 percent of upperclassmen surveyed believe that there is a stigma around going alone, 44 percent believe that there is not and the rest are not sure. Regardless, it should not be embarrassing or looked upon any less to go by yourself. It’s truly the experience that matters.

To give you a better picture: about 90 percent of the freshmen will be attending Winter Formal and 68.2 percent of them indicated that they will be going with a date. On the other hand, for upperclassmen, 45.7 percent plan on going stag, 33.3 percent with a date and the rest are unsure.

So in reality, no matter what you choose to do, you are not alone.

Upper School students answered in a variety of ways when asked why they decided to take a date or not. Many students feel an obligation to take their homecoming date or believe that it’s simply the norm to take a date or significant other.

At the same time, some believe that enough students attend without a date that there is no longer a stigma. Others noted that they took a date one year and decided to go alone another.

Regardless of the fact that you take a date or decide to go alone, this is our dance. This is our chance to have fun. And if having a good time means going with a group of friends, by yourself, or with a date, why not go for it? What matters is the experience of the dance and enjoying it.

Imagine that Winter Formal came before Homecoming. If we asked a date to our dance, would we expect an ask in return for the Homecoming dance?

Do what makes you happy. And if happy means going stag or with a date, go for it. No matter what you choose, don’t let some stigma or fear of judgment tell you otherwise.

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Sonya Xu

Sonya Xu

Sonya is a shark loving gal who loves Costco and the Fourcast! You’ll probably find her drinking black coffee and reading The New Yorker or listening to NPR. Interests include sharks, the Amazon rainforest, pugs, hiking and driving too fast. She also likes to give lots of hugs.

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