This week on See Something Say Something, I asked guests to share what it's like to go to prom while Muslim.
1. The real prom story:
2. The dress hack:
For my junior prom, it was impossible to find a halal dress, so my mom finally bought me one with little cap sleeves and made me buy a matching scarf to wear around my shoulders. Of course, I left it on the table, and someone spilled fruit punch all over it, so (my mom) figured out I hadn't worn it all night.
For senior year, I was so over all the tacky prom dresses in stores, so I ended up wearing a lehenga that basically looked like a gorgeous gown and slayed.
3. Fasting during prom:
Prom's in a few weeks and it's during Ramadan this year, so we'll see how that plays out! My prom ticket is a lot cheaper than everyone else's because I don't have to pay for food #perks.
4. The most lit after-party of all time:
My prom experience: mom let me go, but my dress was made by the auntie that sews shalwar kameez. The Muslim boy I liked told me he wanted to ask me to prom, but he wasn't allowed to go but I saw him grinding it up with a white girl from a different school. Also, the only way my mom would let me go to an after party was if I hosted it myself. It was the first time I had boys over and all we did was watch half of Step Brothers and eat sandwiches.
5. The prom princess:
6. Praying in the prom-mobile:
7. The anti-prom:
Most of my friends went to prom, but I couldn't afford it so I stayed back to do homework. There were at least 10 other Muslim boys and girls who were studying for exams and couldn't go, so we all bonded over it in a study room and revelled in the idea of saving hundreds of dollars. TLDR: I made some new friends
8. The prom queen:
At my prom, I basically sat around while everyone danced, but our queen was Muslim! :)
9. The last-minute prom:
10. The 100% halal prom:
11. Prom overseas:
Where I come from, parents don't forbid their kids to go to prom. Our prom was just like an award ceremony — there are performances, music (but no one dances), and there is no booze. My parents even drove us to the hotel themselves. That's what prom is like in a Muslim country.
12. The "safe" date:
I had to go to prom with my gay friend because Mom was so scared of the myth that I would lose my virginity on prom night. She thought I'd be "safe" with my friend. So, in the limo, everyone was a couple except for the Muslim brown girl and her gay white boy date.
—Tanzila Ahmed (Facebook)
13. This fair deal:
My senior prom is at the end of May, and there is no way in the world my parents are going to budge. My friends are bummed out. I always try to explain to my parents that people have sex and do all sorts of drugs in high school, but I decided not to partake, and that should prove that I was trustworthy. Also, since I'm black and a hijabi, my story is probably a little different. My school is pretty safe and insanely multicultural. A couple of years ago, this gorgeous hijabi won best dressed and all of my hijabi friends are going. But, in return for not going, my parents are giving me $500 and my sister and I are going to Dubai to stay with family over the summer, so there's that.
14. The American prom in a German castle (while wearing a sari!):
15. The self-realization:
When I was younger, I never thought I'd ever be allowed to go to prom, but a month away from prom, I finally asked my mom. She knew my friends were great, so she finally said yes, but on one condition: I would wear a ghagra choli to prom. At that point, I finally conquered my self hatred of being brown and Muslim, so of course I said yes. It was a chance to not only be the unique one at prom but also show that I wasn't going to hide who I am. I did have a great night but of course I couldn't go to the hotel for the after-party because we all know what happens there (my mom ESPECIALLY knew).
16. The awkward scene:
Firstly, I'd just like to say that I love the podcast!!!! I went to prom at my very small high school in suburban Ohio with my group of friends. I spent months finding the perfect dress that I wouldn't have to wear an undershirt with and even more time finding a hijab style that would compliment my dress. Both of my sisters had advised me not to attend as it wouldn't live up to the hype that teenage popcorn fiction had built up in my head.
Once I got there, almost everyone I knew was drunk, many guys I had grown up with suddenly thought they had a pass to grab me. Overall, it was not a fun experience. Best part of the night was definitely locking eyes with another Muslimah across the floor and both of realizing this was not our scene!
17. The midriff:
18. The hipster after-party:
For me, knowing my parents, the thought of going to prom was pretty laughable. Luckily for me, at this point in life, I was a hipster and wanted nothing to do with prom. The worst.
The after-party was halal enough for my parents though, so I went. There was pizza, music, and bowling. Classic Americana. I got home at 4a.m. and everyone was already asleep, THANK GOD. I don't know if there were any Muslims at prom, but there was definitely at least one Muslim at the bowling alley after-party that night. I was just beginning a journey of multiple identity crises. Deep down, I really wanted to be a part of something so stupidly American. Getting permission to late night/early morning bowling gave me hope. Shoutouts to Ammi and Aboo. <3
—Lubna Chaudhry (email)
Submissions have been edited for clarity and content.