If you don’t spend much time around teenagers, you may have missed the emergence of a new adolescent rite of passage: the “promposal.” The promposal has only been around in its current form for a few years, but it has already altered the American high school experience indelibly, and raised the stakes on one of the most important social milestones of adolescent life.
For those just catching up: a promposal is a marriage proposal, but for prom. In a promposal video, a high schooler (usually, but not always, a boy) surprises another high schooler (usually, but not always, a girl) with an elaborate, public display of affection, ending with a simple request: “Will you go to prom with me?” A tearful “yes!” and an awkward hug almost always follow, accompanied by applause from the onlooking friends and classmates.
Promposals are captured on video and uploaded to YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook, often with titles like “The best promposal EVER” or “EPIC promposal 2016.” The unstated goal of promposal videos is to go viral, and many do—”Daniels PromPosal,” a four-minute video of a promposal posted by a high school senior last April, has more than 13 million views.
In almost every variation, promposals are extremely cute. There are Pokémon-themed promposals, and Disney promposals. There are football promposals, twerking promposals, and promposals on rollercoasters. There are funny promposals and heartwarming ones, low-budget ones and ones that look like Hollywood blockbusters. There are cheerleaders promposing to their autistic classmates and straight boys promposing to their gay best friends. There are compilations of promposals: