Prom is an American right of passage nationwide that marks teenagers’ journeys from high school into young adulthood. The event has been depicted in countless fan-favorite films, from “Pretty In Pink” to the early 2000s’ “High School Musical” franchise and countless others in between. In the age of social media, things have changed quite a bit since the John Hughes brat pack films era. Teens pick their outfits through online vision boards and compare aesthetic ideas in group messages.
Instagram recently launched several new features. These include collaborative collections, notes, anytime mentions, and add yours. These new features coupled with some of the platform’s older features allow for a new and improved prom experience for dancegoers. Current Atlanta-based high school senior and professional dancer Jené Marie spoke about how Instagram made her prom planning experience much smoother amid her packed schedule. Marie has a 195,000 strong following on the platform.
“I love using Instagram, because I can keep my fans updated on the daily. Throughout the whole time of me getting prepared for prom, I was actually in rehearsal from the first week of April to now, because I performed at Lovers & Friends with Missy Elliott,” said Marie. So, I literally went from school from 8 a.m., to 11, to then go to rehearsal, and then I had to prepare for prom.”
Given her long history as a professional dancer, Marie had some adjusting to do when it came to dancing in heels at prom. “I’ve been able to work with Missy Elliott, Normani, Ciara, and I’ve done the Kids Choice Awards. All of them gave me a different outlook on the entertainment industry, as I was able to learn and grow and just be around people that are so inspiring to me,” said Marie. “In terms of dancing, just being in a heel was something different for me. I love a good sneaker, they’re definitely my go to.”
Atlanta, Georgia has a unique outlook on the enduring high school tradition. Many custom-design their own outfits and rent vehicles to match them. Marie took part in the local traditions. Using Instagram’s collaborative collection feature, Marie curated a vision board of her dream prom look starting a year in advance. “I went to LA for spring break, and went to a dress shop in the LA Fashion District and found the dress that really spoke to me,” said Marie.
“I kept that in vision for the whole year, and created a collaborative collection on Instagram of all the makeup and hair inspiration. Then I got my hair dyed right before prom because I just wanted to bring something different and elevate my image.”
How Jené Used Instagram To Capture The Night
Instagram is one of many social platforms educating other teens about the various prom traditions across the country. “The Atlanta prom culture is just on a whole other level. The Black cultural influence here makes prom like our Met Gala in 2023,” said Marie.
Instagram’s group messaging and anytime story mention features helped Marie include her friends throughout the busy night, and coordinate safe after-prom plans. “Prom night was so crazy, and it was hard to keep track. Just being able to use the anytime mentions, I was able to go back and allow them to repost that story content so we can all have memories from that night to share.”
Instagram’s carousel posting feature has also given way to a newer style of sharing content, affectionately coined as a “photo dump.” The posts prioritize memories and important moments. Marie even brought along a disposable camera to capture the night.
“I bought my film camera and my disposable camera, which I love even though it’s from my mom’s era,” said Marie. “At the end once the camera is full and you go get it develop, you see memories that you don’t really remember it and it’s like, ‘Oh, I’m glad I captured this’ because now you have it for a lifetime.”
Her favorite moment of the night was making a transition reel alongside her friends. “The transition of everyone being in their casual athleisure wear to then all of us looking so glam like we’re going to the Met Gala. It was so amazing to see all my friends in a different light,” said Marie.
Marie offered some words of encouragement to teens headed to prom this year. “You don’t need to have a date to enjoy your night. I went to junior prom and senior prom, and I didn’t have a date, and those were some of the best moments of my life, when I went with friends. It’s great to go with friends so you can really enjoy yourself and just interact with everyone,” said Marie. “I would say make sure you document prom, like on any electronic device that you have, even if it’s just doing on social media on your phone.”
You can find Jené Marie on Instagram @jenemarie_.