For nearly as long as prom has existed, high schoolers have expected young men to make the first move and ask their female classmates. This isn't any different from so many other gender-specific expectations and assumptions that are made around dating and romance: guy likes her, guy asks girl to prom, guy and girl go to prom.
But this isn't the only possible scenario. Not only are there are plenty of same-sex couples who attend these dances together, but there are also opposite-sex couples who end up at the prom together because girls are the ones who ask their dates.
Every year on the internet we see a plethora of viral "promposals" acted out by teenage boys — the "guy asking a girl" narrative is mostly what we see played out publicly — but this year especially, teenage girls are taking matters into their own hands by flipping tradition on its head and asking their dates.
After posting evidence of their promposals to Instagram, some high schoolers even used hashtags like #HeSaidYes and #ScrewSocialStandards to make note of how the role reversal is an important one. They're not wrong; for viral promposals, where visibility is key, teenage girls are helping redefine this traditionally gendered gesture.
Gabriella Garza is a 17-year-old senior from Florida who asked her date to prom because she wanted to beat her boyfriend to it.
"I am very independent and I love surprising people. I also hate social standards that say women can't ask men to prom or on dates," Garza told BuzzFeed. "So I decided to ask him."
The high schooler and her boyfriend love eating Chinese food together, so she saved an old fortune cookie, used tweezers to remove the original fortune, and then replaced it with a fortune she typed up and printed out on her computer asking him to the prom. She also opted not to film it because she "knew that would make it obvious" and because it "adds pressure to the person being asked."
When it came to other people's reactions, Garza says she was given an attitude by many people and was told that guys are the ones who are supposed to ask girls. "But at the end of the day, I already did it and I would do it again," she said.
Brianna Lippitt, an 18-year-old from New Hampshire, asked her date because they “both wanted to go” and she “thought of a really creative way to ask her.”
"I thought of a really punny way to ask her, and then I made the poster, got flowers and balloons, and wrote on a track and field baton, 'PROM?'" Lippitt told BuzzFeed. "And when she came over it was sitting in the corner of my room and I just turned her towards it."
"She loved it! She liked the creativity and the fact that it had to do with running because we both run," she said. "I enjoyed doing it. It gave me a sense of accomplishment."
The teen "definitely" thinks that more girls should go the nontraditional route and ask their dates to the prom.
"For LGBT high schoolers, I think it's different because the gender-role isn't present (especially in gay and lesbian couples)," Lippitt told BuzzFeed. "Whichever person in the relationship feels like they want to prompose, then I think they have nothing to worry about."
Jennifer Lacatena, a 17-year-old from New Jersey, asked her date to prom because she “really really REALLY wanted to go with him” but she “didn't want to have to rely on him” to do the asking.
"He was telling me how bad he wanted fish but he was too lazy to go get them so I thought I could do something cute with that," Lacatena told BuzzFeed. "I texted him to meet me by my locker during class and I took out a mini tank with two goldfish in it that read: Tyler, Out of all the fish in the sea, I want you to go to prom with me. Love, Jenn."
"Once he realized, laughed, put it back on the shelf in my locker, smiled, kissed me, and said yes. After he went back to class, he told me it was by far the cutest thing he's ever seen," she continued. "It's my senior prom, and I wanted something that I would remember."
The high school senior doesn't know of many other girls who ask their dates to prom, but it didn't surprise anyone that she was the one who asked her date.
"They kind of expected it from me. I asked my ex-boyfriend last year too," Lacatena said. "I'm usually the one to initiate things in a relationship."
She also doesn't think that teenage girls should hold back when it comes to making the first move.
"I think that if you want something, you should go for it regardless of if it's the traditional thing to do," she said. "If I had waited for him to ask me, I'd be going to prom alone."
Leticia Istre is an 18-year-old from California who asked her boyfriend to prom because she had “a lot of cool ideas.”
"I made the poster based off the Anime Naruto because we both watch it, and his reaction was priceless and he thought it was cute," Istre told BuzzFeed. "It's only stressful because you want it to be perfect."
There isn't any video of the promposal because it seemed like "too much work" and according to the teen, it's more of a social norm to just post it on Instagram. Istre said that she did know another one of her friends who asked their date to the prom, but her parents thought the role reversal was weird even though "it shouldn't matter who asks who."
"I feel like girls shouldn't be afraid to take charge and that it's fine to be different and to stand out," she said. "Who says you can't do something a guy can?"
Reaghan Murphy from Philadelphia asked her boyfriend to prom because they both go to different high schools and agreed they’d ask one another to their own proms.
"We're both big sushi fans, and we wanted to do something nice for our anniversary. I suggested going out to a sushi restaurant and seeing a movie, but I actually purchased the sushi that afternoon and arranged it to spell "PROM?" before he arrived at my house," the 18-year-old told BuzzFeed.
"When I was an underclassman, not as many of my girlfriends asked people to prom; instead, they kind of waited and hoped they would be asked," she said. "I've noticed that over the past few years, more girls have started taking the initiative and asking their dates. I also asked my date last year."
Since the high schooler had the benefit of asking her boyfriend, she didn't feel as much pressure, but she did want to think of something that would be meaningful and surprising. Murphy also explained why she thinks teenage boys feel more pressure than the girls she knows.
"It's still more common for guys to ask than girls, and I feel like there might be a bit of competition that comes into play," she said. "Especially if the guy is asking a friend or classmate instead of a girlfriend, there's a lot of pressure to be funny or witty as well as cute. Girls can be just as witty and creative as guys, if not more so. Why not put that creativity to use?"
Brooke Lincoln is a 16-year-old from California who grew impatient waiting for her date to ask her, so she decided to just do it instead.
"I just made him a poster that my friends presented to him," Lincoln told BuzzFeed. "He laughed and called me cheesy."
There wasn't a video of the event because the teen didn't think it was "extravagant" enough. Lincoln explained that while some people teased her about not getting asked to the prom by her date first, people generally responded well to hearing that she initiated the asking.
"I think it teaches girls that we don't have to wait for a man, when we can just take charge ourselves," she said.
Kimberly Au, an 18-year-old from Ventura County, California, told BuzzFeed that she decided to ask her date to the senior prom because he asked her to their homecoming dance and she “thought it'd be fun to surprise him at his school for prom.”
"I left during break at our school to pick up roses (his last name is La Rosa) and Starbucks," she said. "Unfortunately he wasn't there so I drove to his house and proceeded with the promposal. He was really confused at first because he thought I brought him stuff because he was sick, but he was really excited when he found out it was for prom."
While Au doesn't personally know a lot of teenage girls who are asking their dates to the prom, she thinks it's important for girls to break tradition and social standards and ask their dates instead of waiting for boys to ask them. "Women fight for equality in a variety of ways," she explained. "Promposals could be the easiest way to break gender roles."
Seventeen-year-old Emily Schloer has been dating her prom date for a while, but since they go to different schools she thought it’d be better to ask him to go to her prom instead of just assuming they’d go together.
"I made a sign that read, 'Cody, I got so excited to ask you to prom that I 'p'd' my pants! CHS Prom?' And I taped p's all over my pants, insinuating 'p'ing my pants," Schloer told BuzzFeed. "I surprised him by standing next to his car with my sign right after his choir concert so some of his friends were there!"
She said that not everyone reacted positively when they heard she was the one who asked. "Some asked if he has asked me yet and gave me a questionable look as to why I did it and not the other way around, but I don't really notice," the high schooler explained.
"Lots of girls have tons of creative ideas that shouldn't be bottled up inside just because they're the girl. The planning process is fun and getting others in on it makes it just like a game!"