The Artist

In 1979, my date for the senior prom appeared at the front door proudly wearing a baby blue tuxedo, and at the time I didn’t think much of the pastel hue or of the fact that he was wearing his running shoes. I didn’t know then that if I had a daughter whose prom date might make a statement with his sneakers, that they would surely be Nike, and that she wouldn’t be driven in the family station wagon to the high school gymnasium, but in a shiny chartered bus with 20 other couples to an event venue in the city.
“This isn’t your mom’s prom,” became my mantra last spring, jokingly directed at my daughter who was celebrating her last prom as a senior in high school. The past four years of dances were startling in their excess, and every year I insisted that she could apply her own make-up and could not possibly be the plainest girl at the prom because her hair wasn’t braided and carefully folded under into today’s version of a French twist. Four years of formal wear shopping can wear a mom down, and I found myself in a local hair salon last April, spellbound by the artistry of the stylist applying make-up to my daughter’s face. And although applying make-up doesn’t fall into the traditional category of artist, create art she did, using the cleansed skin of my daughter as her canvas.

Makeup by Keri Campbell, Davao Hair Studio

As the group of seniors gathered later that day, I noticed there wasn’t a pastel tuxedo or plaid cummerbund to be found, and no one was wearing  borrowed evening gowns, dyed pumps, or running their fingers through the  hot ironed curls of my era. But after the much anticipated parental photo shoot concluded, and as the couples slowly filed to their luxury bus in a lingering whisper of laughter, four decades were instantly erased, and I realized that maybe this was a mother’s prom, after all.


  1. I love it.. when I got married in 1973 I wore a purple bell bottomed suit… and my wife a mini dress.. man how your words brought this flying back in my memory, her hair was a work of art, her makeup perfect and she looked so beautiful… and I must have looked a real dork…


    1. I guess many of us didn’t realize that the freedom of expression in the 60’s and 70’s might lead to poor choices in apparel! Don’t sell yourself, I’ll bet purple was your color. πŸ™‚


  2. Oh, great post! I had a shiny pink tafetta gown with dyed pumps to match. Thanks for the trip down memory lane. Sigh. Nothing like our kids to remind us what has (and hasn’t) changed in this vast human condition.


  3. I had my daughter back in the days when Proms weren’t such an event. I think she would probably have regarded it as an ordeal back then. She was “too tall”, not conventionally pretty and had a bit of a rough ride at school.
    Yours looks beautiful, Elisa. Happy days πŸ™‚


    1. Thank you, Jo. I adore this child, born of iron will (stubborn) and champion of the underdog to the point of alienating a few authority figures along the way. Proud of her though, as I know you are of your daughter. I remember reading some of your wonderful posts about her!


  4. Such a great post! Times certainly have changed…Proms are as big a deal as weddings these days, at least the preparation aspect! My date wore bright white tennis sneakers with his powder blue tux…tres chic!


    1. I see you’re practicing your francaise, already! And you’re right, proms are as big as weddings these days. Sometimes I wonder if parents ever tire of having to top the last event. Powder blue tuxes were definitely the rage in the 70’s and 80’s…maybe they will make a comeback!


  5. What is your daughter’s name again? Send an email telling me their names and where they are in school, please. I don’t know why I cannot recall that. She is absolutely beautiful. Those cheekbones, that wonderful complexion and hair to die for, as they say … or did.

    I thought the prom dresses were entirely too expensive and the much ado was ridiculous, but I did not confide that to Kelli. I think she probably thought so too. Her child is male so she won’t have the fun of searching out the perfect dress. I’m sure that, among other stuff that she relates to me, is a relief. Her problem will be all of the girls who are calling Mr. C. They adore him ever since he was three in Pre-K. It’s a joke that he doesn’t much appreciate. Yet. πŸ˜‰ Can you believe he’s in fifth grade, and the little boys are all asking him if he thinks so-and-so would go out with them? He is absolutely appalled. What he says to me is that nobody would be seen with any of them. Haha. He’s already got a plan. Take his older cousin to whatever he has to go to where they dance. He’s not about to dance with those awful girls… He makes me chuckle. He’s a foot taller than anybody in his class, but his cousin is about as tall as he is. Kids start this thing earlier and earlier, I think.

    Such a really great post, Elisa. I was happy to see your daughter!


    1. I can’t believe boy is in the fifth grade, George. But I CAN believe that the girls are swooning over him! It sounds like he has a good head on his shoulders, too. On the one hand I think it’s fine that the girls are as assertive as the boys when it come to “dating,” I just can’t stand how young they’re starting these days, and that many parents don’t discourage it. Kelli is going to have her hands full for the next six years!


    1. You hit the nail on the head, Laurie, it IS like planning a wedding! Maybe it’s good to have an early trial run or two – weddings can be so stressful, maybe this generation will enjoy the process a little more with all the experience they get from high school events!

      And thank you. πŸ˜‰


    1. That’s something I never thought about, frankly the idea is startling, as that would be my GRANDDAUGHTER’S prom! Thank you so much for stopping by and for your thought provoking comment. I just visited your blog, and its fabulous!


  6. You have a lovely daughter, Elisa. I hope she had a wonderful time!

    I have pictures of my father wearing one such pale-blue suit. Still has it, I think . . . In regards to today’s children there are times when I think everything has changed, and then I look closer and realize it’s only the clothes that have changed. Kinda nice.


    1. Cara, I was just saying that teenagers haven’t changed much since I was a teenager except that they’re more expensive!
      Tell your father to hold onto that tux…it’s a classic.


  7. Well, take heart! My youngest daughter never, hardly ever wore makeup. But for her prom, she and a few friends went down to the local Macys and had makeup applied at the various counters. The makeup artists were only too happy to accommodate them, and they all had a blast!


  8. OMG she’s a DREAM!!! You captured the moment so well. I don’t shoot MY events well. I am WAY to emotional to think about framing! LOL That’s why digital is better than just burning through film! I love the story you shared about your prom date! Wonderful!


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