By Cynthya Porter
One day after a news article appeared about a prom dress collection for teens on the Crow Creek Indian Reservation, several readers brought in gowns to contribute to the cause.
The next day there were twice as many, and twice as many again the day after that. For five days dresses poured into the drop-off room at the Winona Post, and these weren’t just any old dresses.
In a rainbow of colors readers contributed frocks in every shape and size, modern, beautiful dresses that you could have seen a high school girl in last week in Winona.
Dress shoes came in too, and men’s suits. By the end of the week, the room was overflowing because of the generosity of readers who wanted to give these impoverished teens a prom night to be proud of.
The dress collection was part of a Diva for a Day program being planned at Crow Creek where teen suicide is among the highest in the country. Organizers are hoping to offer students the chance to have a normal prom in the hopes that such moments will help curb the suicide rate there.
Anyway, I wouldn't just "hope" that the prom dresses would have a positive effect. I'd look for research on the subject. And I'd hold off until I was more certain of the outcome.
I wonder if anyone has considered the downside to this effort. Native girls dress up as queens for the day. They attend the prom and are the center of attention for once. Then they go back to their presumably bad lives--the ones leading them to commit suicide.
The question is whether one night of glamor will inspire them to hope and dream. Or whether it'll inspire them to despair and give up. Because the illusory glamor of the prom is so far out of their real-life reach.
I don't know the answer. Does anyone? Until someone has an answer, this doesn't strike me as the greatest idea. I wouldn't be surprised if suicide rates increase rather than decrease after a school prom.
I say give the kids books or computers instead. I.e., something with more of a long-term benefit. I'm not persuaded that a prom is the way to change people's lives.
For a related rant, see "Feminist" Mohegan Princess. For more on the subject, see Indians Need Prom Dresses.