Ask Jenn Vicious: On Contributing to Your Life

By:  Jenn Vicious

DSCN0681 prom-dress-project

Jenn Vicious is the radical community’s Agony Aunt, providing life coaching and social etiquette answers for radical cultures.  Need poly, kinky, or queer dating advice, need to to know what to wear to court or a family function (you know, one you have to look “respectable” at),  want to understand what to and not to say in some contexts, ask Jenn Vicious.

Alright.. So my dad and I aren’t that close.  My parents divorces when I was 7, so we rarely see each other, let alone talk to each other.  Right now, everyone is getting all pumped for Prom.  I already have a date, but I don’t have a dress.  My mom is too financially unstable to get me one, so I have to ask him.  I just don’t know how without sounding like all I want is money.  Help.   

This isn’t all about money. This is about your dad contributing to your life.  When you talk to him, talk about how important this is to you, and ask him for his help. Ask nicely, and be prepared to compromise on price.

I don’t know anything about your dad, so I don’t have any idea how this is going to go. But it is not at all inappropriate for you to ask your dad to help with the extra expenses that come with growing up. I think the conversation should go something like this: “hey dad, so, prom is in a couple of weeks, and I’ve got a date and everything but I haven’t gotten a dress yet. I was wondering if you could help me buy one. There’s a couple I’ve been looking at that cost around [whatever prom dresses go for these days]. What do you think?” If he says, “why doesn’t your mom buy you one?” refocus the conversation by saying that you thought it would be nice if your prom dress came from your dad. Or be honest and say that she is paying for a bunch of other things you need and doesn’t have extra money for this expense. But don’t let the conversation be about something between your mom and your dad. This is about you, and whether or not he is willing to help you buy a dress.

Be prepared with a few back up plans, just in case he says no or says he can only give you a little bit of help.  You might be able to borrow one, but I had to do that for the first school dance I ever went to, and it sucked, so I won’t recommend it. (To elaborate: it sucked because I, a scrawny, olive-skinned, dark-haired girl borrowed a dress from a peachy-skinned blonde who was taller than me and had actual breasts that required an actual bra. So the dress was a weird color for me and big in all the wrong places. I looked as awkward as I felt.)

In my town, there are lots of prom dresses at thrift stores and only half are ugly. If you find one you like used, you can use these guides to fix any problems it might have, and to make it fit you better.

You could also try making your own dress. You don’t have to be good at sewing if you are down to wear something funky and creative, and you can probably make a dress for under $40. For instance, get yourself a fancy top and a bunch of tulle like this, and follow this tutorial from The amount of sewing in this project is very minimal. It’s also super easy to adjust the length of the skirt.

You should definitely ask your dad soon. The longer you put it off, the harder it is going to be to ask, and to find a dress. Good luck. When prom night happens in my town, I’ll be thinking of you.


One response to “Ask Jenn Vicious: On Contributing to Your Life

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