Promposals A Bad Idea? Blowback On Too Public Invitations To The Disabled

Are promposals a bad idea? Promposals, creative and inventive ways for high school students to invite dates to the prom, have gotten big. Social media gives the students many platforms for posting videos and pictures of the moment. An April New York Times post detailed “Daniel’s Promposal,” a video that got over 13 million views on YouTube.

The Times article calls the invitations “over the top” and “awkward” in today’s teenage way. The emotional risks the students take are high. They shoot videos of their creativity without knowing the outcome and share those moments with the entire world on the internet. In “Daniel’s Promposal,” it indeed looks for a while like his promposal is a bad idea. Another promposal described in the Times depicts a young man wearing a diaper popping out from between a pair of legs and saying, “I was born to go to prom with you.”

A kind of promposal etiquette is beginning to take shape, too. Seventeen posted an article of the worst promposals they could find.

Some of the more popular prom stories involve ill or disabled students. Though technically not a promposal and certainly not a promposal “bad idea,” the story of Khameyea Jennings’ prom was touching to many. Khameyea, who was fighting cancer, went to her prom with NFL player Sen’Derrick Marks. The story was an internet favorite. The date was arranged by Khameyea’s late grandmother and a local non-profit organization called Dreams Come True, as reported here in the Inquisitr. Khameyea lost her battle with cancer soon after.

However, posting video promposals has another side. A BBC article questions whether the promposal is “inspiring or insulting.”

What can easily make for a promposal a bad idea, says the BBC piece, is the very public nature of the promposal. Pictures and videos abound on social media of promposals showing students asking wheelchair-bound classmates or friends to the dance. A number of posts go viral. Viewers typically react with comments like, “I cried,” and “sweet.”

One promposal detractor interviewed by the BBC, blogger Michael Mort, calls this “inspiration porn.”

Mort has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a condition that keeps him in a wheelchair. He wrote a blog post about promposals, called “Pity and the Prom.” Mort feels frustrated, he said, by the way society still misunderstands and mistreats the disabled, even if unintentionally.

“We do not exist solely to inspire and spending time with us doesn’t make you a hero,” Mort said. “Generally, disabled people want to be included and accepted not made a spectacle of.”

Mort cited a particular meme depicting a promposal a bad idea. As a disabled person, he felt the meme was degrading and exploitative.

“The wording, ‘even in her condition’ also hit quite close to home,” he said. “Being a wheelchair user with a visually similar disability, I would never want to be spoken of with that level of pity and condescension.”

Another unnamed blogger’s comment was quoted by the BBC. “If a news source had hinted that my date was engaged in some kind of bizarre community service, basically insinuating that I was the most ‘undateable’ creature on the planet,” the blogger wrote, “I likely would have taken the (very mature) path of locking myself in my bedroom and crying until graduation.”

The BBC article goes on to say that non-disabled students inviting disabled students to prom is not unusual and is in many ways beneficial to all. But many people with disabilities disagree with the promposal way of doing it. The invitations are fine. Posting these private moments on the internet for the whole planet to see is problematic. These posts, say some advocates, can make even sweet promposals a bad idea.

[ Photo by bikeriderlondon/Shutterstock]