On 20 March, my younger brother returned home with his shirt covered in signatures—marking his last day of secondary school. What should have been a heart-warming farewell to students and teachers had turned into a day of apprehension. That evening, Prime Minister Boris Johnson officially announced that the UK will go on a full lockdown until further notice. As government officials pleaded for us to stay inside, people started worrying about their jobs, their grades and their prom night. How exactly is COVID-19 impacting students’ oh-so-anticipated end of year prom?
When the news broke out and the uncertainty remained still, many were concerned about the future of students. The department for education published a statement on 20 March in response to students wondering about what would happen to non-exam assessments such as GCSEs and A-levels mocks. “The calculated grade process will take into account a range of evidence including, for example, non-exam assessment and mock results and the approach will be standardised between schools and colleges,” read the statement. Luckily for my brother, he excelled in his mocks and will be able to go to Sixth Form. I guess the Saturday tutoring classes finally paid off, but the same cannot be said for everyone else.
Following the broadcast, many students worried about another cancellation that would come from the coronavirus outbreak—prom would not happen this year. “It’s obviously disappointing because I’m not getting the final goodbye everyone else had,” shared my brother, “but I don’t necessarily think it’s a bad thing.”
Prom is a school-sponsored formal event implemented in celebration of completing school exams after year 11 (when students are usually aged 15 or 16) and year 13 (when students are usually aged 17 or 18). This one of a kind celebration is said to give young people a chance to develop their social skills in a collective environment. Although that statement seems a little outdated to some, those who grew up in households with strict beliefs or principles still see prom night as a chance to experience something they’ve never been allowed to. Prom is an important event for young people, one that will be skipped this year.
I see this unfortunate cancellation as a necessary evil—prom needs a revamp. Film culture has glamorised how we view this ‘special night’. Don’t get me wrong, it is an exciting and memorable night but the build-up can also be daunting for many. Screen Shot spoke to primary school teacher Aaliyah about her prom experience: “I had visions of this awesome American prom from all these fairy tale movies, but mine wasn’t like that. I felt pretty miserable. I had no money to get a cool dress so I didn’t want to go. When I got there though I had fun and it felt like my first clubbing experience.”
Although it is disheartening that our current year 11s were robbed of this experience, many might agree on the fact that they’ve dodged a bullet here. Gen Zers are growing up surrounded with endless pressure, so why not save them from the myth that is prom?
Proms are enabling stereotypes that should be long gone by now. Firstly, finding a date. The biggest misconception is that you need to go to prom with a date. It’s not uncommon for teachers to see an increase of anxiety within students during the prom period. And who could blame them, we all know that finding the right partner can be terrifying as an adult, now imagine just how duplicated those emotions can be for teenagers. With this being said, this year’s attendees are (hopefully) more socially accepting of sexual preferences and understanding of how others identify, so prom could have been a real opportunity to break some of those myths.
Mike Alberton, a deputy headteacher from Essex, believes that this year’s prom had the potential of making a defining moment in time. “Last month, I overheard a student saying she was going to alter one of her traditional African attires for prom. Teenagers are getting craftier by the second and my students are very open with LGBT rights. Unfortunately, I won’t be seeing the representation I was so looking forward to.”
As I have tried to see the positives in our current situation, I have also realised the potential that new gens have in changing our society and building an improved and accepting one instead. Yesterday, I asked my brother how he felt about prom to which he replied, “I don’t care anymore, I’m just happy I got into Sixth Form.” It’s uplifting to see that the next generation keeps its priorities in check. Do you?
I would like to think that I had a good sense of style when I was younger. I remember having this tiny white rabbit fur coat that my mum had bought me age 5 that I had decided to customise with some pink fluorescent highlighter—I thought it was just the coolest thing ever, while my mum had a minor breakdown. Looking back now, I realise that, compared to today’s new generation of fashionistas, my early styling skills were borderline tacky.
Not only did Instagram create what we now know as influencers, it also introduced us to some very young fashion influencers. Standing out from the crowd of stylish little ones is Coco, also known as @Coco_PinkPrincess, the 9-year-old Japanese fashionista, and probably one of the trendiest and coolest young girls on Instagram. From her first post in 2015 to her most recent one from the beginning of February, not only did Coco share with her followers some serious fashion style, but she also showed the world what it means to be a kid-influencer.
Coco’s following really blew up globally after she was interviewed by Vice age 6. Shortly after, aged 7, she had already done a photoshoot for ELLE, for which she styled her own accessories. That same year, she spoke to Hypebae about her love of fashion. Today, with 675K followers (and counting), it is obvious that Coco is Insta famous, and for good reasons. Looking through her feed, there aren’t any styles that she can’t master—from streetwear and classic with a twist to kawaii and head-to-toe Gucci or Balenciaga, Coco looks amazing in everything.
In order to get some fashion tips from the Pink Princess herself, Screen Shot had an exclusive interview with the 9-year-old and her mum Misato, where we spoke about Coco’s style, her dreams for the future and her in-depth knowledge of Instagram’s algorithm. Here’s how it went:
What I love about your style is how eclectic and colourful it is. You always dare to take that extra step that most people wouldn’t. What is your process behind putting together one of those outfits?
Coco: When I make an outfit I sometimes choose the clothes I want to wear first or choose a theme, also my father teaches me a lot about fashion, so sometimes we make the outfit together or sometimes just by myself.
Misato: As she grew up in Harajuku she’s been surrounded by many colourful and stylish adults, so she’s been in an open environment when it comes to styling.
Do you have fashion icons or other influences on your style?
Coco: Not really but I sometimes check fashion feeds on Instagram.
With the help of her parents who run the vintage store Funktique in Harajuku, Tokyo, Coco styles her outfits depending on what kind of mood she is in on that specific day. But how did she start her Instagram and what exactly does it take to curate an account that has that much fashion influence?
You’ve been known as a fashion icon on social media for a few years. Is it still as much fun for you today as it was in the beginning? What encouraged you to open your account and share your fashion styles with the world?
Coco: Yes, I still really enjoy taking photos for Instagram.
Misato: Coco was brought up in Harajuku since she was 2 years old where we, her parents, run a vintage shop. Shop staff, influencers and people in the entertainment industry around her were all on Instagram, so Coco naturally imitated them and started posting on Instagram.
As a fashion influencer, Coco is one of the few who don’t post as regularly as the others—she posts monthly or twice a month, but never every few days. Speaking to Misato, we asked:
Is this done on purpose or are you both just posting whenever you have time and good pictures of Coco’s outfits?
Misato: It’s true that her frequency to post has lessened and there are 2 reasons for it. After analysing Instagram’s algorithm and taking her daily life into consideration, the posting pace we chose was the most efficient for her then. She also started to have a lot of work and projects, so it became harder to make time for posts on Instagram. However, the algorithm has recently changed and her work pace became calmer, which means that she started posting like before again.
When it comes to social media, and more specifically Instagram, kids are now growing up alongside it. Do you think one day Instagram will become old news, and, if so, what new app would you like to replace it?
Coco: There are new apps coming out one after another so it might change to something else.
Misato: This is a hard question. We don’t know what will happen to Instagram and which app will replace it, but for Coco’s generation, it will still be an essential part of their lives. So it will also be important to be able to make decisions flexibly, even if the platform changes.
Speaking about the future, do you know what you’d like to achieve next?
Coco: Lately I enjoy acting, so for now, I hope to be a great actress.
That would be great! And what about fashion, do you see yourself still doing what you do on Instagram? Would you like to stay in the fashion industry?
Coco: I like fashion so I hope to still be a part of it in the future.
To finish, give us a few of your tips, what is your favourite thing about fashion at the moment?
Coco: Lately, I’m into flowers and creating styles like natural flower combinations. I like pale colour tones, like what natural flowers have.
So, for those of you who are in need of some fashion inspo, you heard it here first; try to include more flowers and pastel colours in your Instagram feed to stand out. When it comes to fashion, Coco’s style and vision both seem to be a mix between classic and new innovations—something that we, at Screen Shot, are always trying to promote in a fun and engaging way.
It is unclear what the future holds for social media, new technologies or even for the fashion industry, but what is sure is that the new generation is showing an incredible amount of savviness and creativity. In the end, it will be people like Coco, ZaZa and others who will shape our future, at least as long as fashion is concerned. And when speaking to Coco and her mum, it almost feels like a reassurance to realise that a famous 9-year-old fashionista can be as grounded and lovely as her Instagram pictures depict her.