Hailie was starting to gear up for the end of her senior year at Red Mountain High School in Mesa, Ariz. In mid-February, she found the perfect dress, settling on a light blue princess gown with cutouts. She imagined spending the evening with her boyfriend.
Now, her high school has canceled the dance, and she’ll instead be wearing her perfect, nonrefundable $300 prom dress tonight in celebration of her one-year anniversary with her boyfriend while eating takeout from Outback Steakhouse.
“I know a lot of the seniors are upset about it, and at first, I was disappointed,” she said. “But I’m OK with it. There are other things to worry about right now, and at least I was able to attend my junior year.”
Another high school senior, Evelyn, tweeted pictures of her newly dyed lavender hair for the end of the year and is hoping and praying that prom isn’t canceled despite classes already going virtual.
“I’d be devastated,” she said. “I’ve waited four years for prom and to walk across the stage. For it to get canceled? I’d literally cry.”
They’re not the only teens looking forward to these end-of-year activities popularized in movies and TV shows. Indeed, prom is an enjoyable activity for teenagers, multiple sources told Adweek.
To help fill the void in light of the coronavirus canceling the fun, Teen Vogue is planning on offering two free virtual counterparts to these senior activities in an online prom in mid-May and commencement ceremony in early June.
“We wanted to be a place where we can bring everyone together and have a celebration and have some fun with our audience and bring some lightness into this dark time,” Teen Vogue editor in chief Lindsay Peoples Wagner told Adweek.
The Teen Vogue Virtual Prom will take place on May 16, with the Condé Nast publication bringing high schools together over Zoom to dance to a customized playlist and with special backdrops. Hosted by Peoples Wagner, Teen Vogue also hopes to bring together TikTok stars and celebrities, who will make cameos throughout the dance. Teen Vogue declined to reveal who might make an appearance.
Students will also be able to chat with one another (if their high schools participate) and with others on a regional level. Leading up to the big night, Teen Vogue will also cross-market the experience with a prom committee and dish out styling advice and dance tips with an Instagram Live series.
In early June, Teen Vogue will also produce a programmed virtual commencement to feature inspiring speeches from preselected valedictorians, industry leaders and celebrities to once again bring graduating seniors together online.
Virtual events are new products media companies have created during the COVID-19 crisis, which has destroyed advertising revenues and made in-person events impossible.
Teen Vogue boasts a readership of mostly 13- to 25-year-olds. Its events, including the Teen Vogue Summit (now postponed from its planned May 2 date) tend to skew toward the late-high-school to early-college age range. “The reality is we have to provide some sense of escapism,” Peoples Wagner said.