Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

January 28, 2013

Advice for the big night

Tammie Hetzer-Womack
The Independent

ASHLAND — My daughter attends her very first prom this spring, a rite of passage moms envision. Peculiar expectant mother dreams were of prom night and its hoopla.

In those fantastically fat fancies, the Kiki cooking in my warm oven grew into an 18-year-old pretty in pink princess with her momma’s satire and poppa’s smarts.

Wishes come true. It’s time for prom dress shopping.

I’m keeping a close eye on my kid. I remember prom time. I usually fried myself like a thick slab of bacon in the tanning bed and refused to eat a strip of pork product throughout. Last seconds of senior high school ticks away, all focus on who shall don the queen’s crown.

It dumps too much stress on growing girls craving popularity and skinniness.

It’s easy to skip a burger now and again, but it’s taking the big night too far when a teenager isn’t eating at all to shimmy and squeeze into a fitted formal, girls. It’s Mom’s job to pay close attention and present words of the wise to keep prom-prep healthy.

Once the night of her dreams arrives, make sure she avows to a sexual purity pact. Talk openly about the added pressures placed upon her to have sex on prom night and how alcohol and drugs jumble judgment and increases risk of teen dating violence.

The Centers for Disease Control Office of Women’s Health shares parental advice. Sure, it’s early to engage in prom conversation. But, if we start now, she’s dressed and ready when her date slips on the wrist corsage.

Have a girls’ day, bake a batch of Toll House cookies, and go over this advice:

Get in shape slowly and wisely. Eat fruits and vegetables, less junk food and don’t crash diet. Choose drinks with no or low calories and fat, such as water, sparkling water or unsweetened tea. Stay active by walking, dancing, gardening or swimming for 60 minutes a day. Get sleep.

Protect the skin you’re in. You’re beautiful, even without a tan. A few serious sunburns increases skin cancer risks later in life. Protect yourself from harmful effects of UV rays. Avoid indoor and outdoor tanning and use a sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher.

If you’re changing hairstyles or hair color on your own, follow directions, cautions and label warnings. Dyes and relaxers hurt skin, hair and eyes. Do a patch test before using. If rash develops, stop. Never dye eyebrows or eyelashes, as it might cause blindness. If in doubt, let professionals handle it.

For some, using cosmetics like makeup or deodorant causes itching, redness, rash, sneezing or wheezing. Allergies may happen the first time a product is used or after multiple uses. Test products on a small area. Follow directions, cautions and label warnings. Stop using if problems develop. Remove makeup before bedtime to prevent skin and eye irritation.

High heels are fashionable, but increase your chances of falling if too high, uncomfortable or not something you’re used to wearing. Wear comfortable footwear that won’t injure your feet or affect how you walk or dance.

Watch budgets. If cost is an issue, look for alternatives to spending loads of money. Expensive doesn’t necessarily mean better.

Tell family your plans ahead of time. Make an agreement with friends to keep check on each other during prom evening. Be sure someone you trust is available to call if your plans change or you need help.

You don’t need a date to have fun. Going with a group or meeting friends at the event is just as fun as one special person.

It’s OK to say no. You might feel pressured to drink, smoke, use drugs or have sex on prom night. Drinking is responsible for over 4,500 deaths among young people annually and linked to problems like STDs and unintended pregnancy. Alcohol and drugs impair judgment and may result in you being harmed or harming others. Just because others do something doesn’t make it right for you.

Drivers ages 16 to 19 are four times more likely to crash. Wear a safety belt. Don’t drink and drive and don’t ride with a driver who’s drinking.

Dating violence is a real issue. Many teens don’t report because they’re afraid to tell friends and family. Abuse is verbal, emotional, physical or sexual. Respect yourself and others; avoid alcohol and drugs and tell family or call 911 if you or someone you know is abused.

 If attending an after-prom shindig, be sure it’s alcohol and drug-free and adult-supervised with observed start and end times. Go with a “buddy” to ensure each other’s safety.