Prom Night Pressures Mean Some Parents Shell Out Big Bucks

Some teens get breast implants, diet to extremes, glam it up for big night.

April 20, 2011, 9:34 PM

April 21, 2011 — -- Some things never change. Prom is still the hottest ticket in town.

For girls like Rebecca Sosa, it's like making a fairy tale come to life straight out of the pages of a magazine.

"I can't even put into words how great this day is going to be for me," Sosa said.

But the pressure to look like a glamorous "Gossip Girl" never has been more intense. The big night has some teens actually getting breast implants, dieting to extremes and glamming it up with unforgettable fashions.

Budget-Busting for Big Event

At Diane and Company, a formal wear retailer in Freehold, N.J., it seems that bigger is better.

Kimberly Gamcale is the co-owner of Diane and Company, one of the biggest prom dress retailers in the country. She recalled one girl's request.

"She drove here from Ohio and she said, basically, 'I want to look like I was dipped in Elmer's glue and rolled in glitter.'"

The average couple will spend $800 for prom night and in $4 billion industry. But the price tag on that eye-catching dress? About $6,000.

Fifteen-year-old Caroline Noce's parents have spared no expense for their prom princess.

The suburban New York sophomore got her teeth whitened, her nails done, eyebrows threaded, and a facial. She also got hair extensions and had her makeup done.

Her dress was $1,700. The grand total for Caroline's prom was more than $3,000.

Asked if spending that much for a 15-year-old was over the top, Lisa Noce, the girl's mother, said she wanted to give her daughter an experience she, herself, did not have.

"It's my baby; it is about me being the mom," Noce told "Good Morning America." "Certainly, I did not have the opportunity to wear this type of dress when I was younger. By far, I didn't. So I am happy to be able to do this for her. She is not demanding that, 'I want this dress.' You know, it wasn't that kind of a thing. But that I can, and I did -- I am happy that I did. It pleases me, I think, as much as it pleases her."

Panel Weighs in on Pressures of Prom

"GMA" gathered some mothers and daughters to ask them about the price and pressures of prom.

Kelly Strack said the pressure to look good was "huge."

"Almost everyone goes tanning. They started going tanning in, like, January," the girl said.

Alyssa Boyer added that students started hitting the gym months before the big event.

As to the dress styles, the students and parents on the panel agreed that the dresses were becoming very sexy.

"Some dresses can be, like, made of just mesh and just are only covering, you know, the bare minimum," Kelly added.

"That's where parental discretion comes in," Donna Banjany, a mother, added. "Yeah, you want them to look beautiful, but you always want them to maintain self-respect."

The panelists said it all stems from television shows, including "Keeping Up With the Kardashians." Star Kim Kardashian's 15-year-old sister even models prom dresses.

Kelly said that puts pressure on high school girls.

"We want to be like that celebrity for one day," she said.

So what happens if you're not made for the red carpet?

"It's sad to watch people be mean to the people who are less fortunate, you know," said Alyssa, speaking of the teasing some girls may face if their dresses don't measure up.

Kelly agreed.

The "mean girls" will chime in with negative comments.

"They're like, 'Oh, you know, she looks fat in that dress,' or, 'That's not a good color on her.' And, I mean, it's just, like, cattiness," she said.

The parents agreed that the prom had become a competition.

Kathy Strack, Kelly's mother, saw it as a competition for "who can have the best dress, the nicest hair, the best tan."

The moms are concerned that there may be too much emphasis being placed on looking perfect.

"A lot of pressure is put placed on young girls to look perfect. And it's unfortunate. ... They have to really be taught that, you know what, nobody's perfect," Banjany said.

So how much is too much?

Setting Limits

Gina Kelly, the fashion director at Seventeen Magazine, said it's all about setting limits.

"If you set a budget from the beginning, I think that will alleviate some of the fights," she said. "The average cost of a dress is $400 ... but I think you can definitely get a dress for under $100."

Lisa Noce admitted that she blew her initial $700 budget for her daughter, Caroline.

Asked what kind of message such spending could send to young girls, Noce said: "I think, if you can look your best, and you want to buy something, and it's relative to what you earn or what you can spend, I think it's OK as long as you're not tacky or you don't brag."

She also acknowledged that some people might think her daughter was spoiled.

"Not spoiled," she said. "Not spoiled, because 'spoiled,' to me, has a negative connotation. So I would not say that she's spoiled. And I don't think with this dress or without this dress she's any more or less of a wonderful young lady.

"So not spoiled," she added. "Lucky, maybe. Night. Lucky for the night."

Click here to return to the "Good Morning America" website.

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events