Students acknowledge date stigma at Homecoming

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Kate Goebel

Deciding to go to homecoming solo or with a date provides similar quandaries regardless of a student’s gender. Both social media and Hollywood place a stigma on the cliche high school event. Junior Sydney Kinzy, who is going with her boyfriend to homecoming, believes there is a stigma that society breeds surrounding the topic.

“A lot of people feel obligated to ask someone or hint to others to get asked as a date,” Kinzy said. “Society makes it out to be that you need romance to be truly happy, but honestly, happiness comes from within.”

Sophomore Rachel Neupert not only sees homecoming full of stigma that you need a date to enjoy yourself at homecoming, but it also invites self-speculation.

“High school, in general, is filled with people wondering if they’re liked enough,” Neupert said. “To not have someone ask you makes you wonder, ‘Is there something wrong with me?”

Senior Leigh Ann Barnett elaborates on the normalcy of going with a group of friends and also acknowledges that you can enjoy yourself whether you have a date or not.

“Going with friends should never be a bad thing. You’re friends with your friends because you like them, so don’t feel bad if you have to spend a night dancing till your feet hurt with them because experiences like that are going to last a lot longer than the awkward dance you share with the guy or girl who sits three seats behind you in math,” Barnett said.

Barnett has only gone with a date once throughout her high school career.

“I realized having a date wasn’t what I thought it was. It may be different for people who are dating but going with someone you don’t talk to all that much made the whole experience awkward. I spent most of the time just dancing with my friends instead of the guy who took me,” Barnett said.

Despite these notions, sophomore Maddie Cooke views homecoming as an opportunity to get to know someone better.

“I think the dances are fun and meant to be relaxed. Some people overthink it. I view it as a fun way to go with a bestie that you might find attractive and go out of your comfort zone,” Cooke said.

According to Pew Research Center, “Teens, Technology and Romantic Relationships,” social media is one of the main factors feeding the stigma surrounding dates to school dances as it adds a competitive edge to the experience, publicizes the union and encourages many to one-up their peers.

“Everywhere around homecoming you see all the cute hoco-posals that people have received. It puts pressure on those asking and makes those who haven’t been invited as a date feel bad,” Neupert said, who is going with a group of friends.

Kinzy agrees that date stigma is prominent on social media.

“I think seeing so many posts on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter just ingrains in your mind: ‘I need a date. I want somebody to ask me. I can’t be alone’,” Kinzy said.

However, Barnett still believes homecoming can be a memorable and positive experience whether you have a date or you go with a group.

“I think it’s great if that’s what you want to do. If you have a girl or boy you want to ask, then go for it. If you’re dating someone, sure ask them, but you should never have to feel like you need a date or that if someone doesn’t ask you, that you can’t go,” Barnett said. “Dancing with your friends is always going to be fun, even in a gym.”