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In Karin Klein's Southern California community, it's not unusual for families to drop close to $1,000 on a prom dress.

Klein's family has never been one to splurge in that way. As a parent, Klein was always uncomfortable with spending money on something that might only be used once. And her kids' awareness of fashion-related environmental and human rights concerns kept the family on an tight budget.

"There were always a lot of talks [with the kids] about where we place our values," Klein says.


Spending that much for prom might sound over the top, but it's not unheard of. American families are spending on average more than $600 on prom-related expenses according to a 2017 Yahoo Prom Across America survey. For many families struggling to pay rent and put food on the table, $600 isn't just a splurge, it's out of reach.

But prom night doesn't have to cost as much as a used car, and parents like Klein have found realistic ways to keep it affordable.

[rebelmouse-image 19534402 dam="1" original_size="500x281" caption="GIF from "Mean Girls."" expand=1]GIF from "Mean Girls."

Here is how the Klein family spent a fraction of the average prom-related costs in three big spending areas:

1. Attire and accessories

With two kids who wore dresses and one who wore a tux, the Kleins experimented with a variety of options for prom wear.

They purchased new: For her oldest daughter's first prom, Klein bought a slip dress, which she paid to have altered because it was too long. Klein then hand-made a shawl and bought her daughter shoes from a discount store.

Total cost: $160

They reused, borrowed from friends, and wore hand me downs: The next year, her daughter borrowed a dress from a friend and re-wore the shoes she had bought the prior year.

And having used her older sister's first prom dress as a play outfit as a child, Klein's younger daughter decided she wanted to wear that dress to her first prom. They paid to have it cleaned and pressed.

Total cost: Cleaning fees

The dress the Kleins bought new (left) and their eBay steal (right). Photos by Karin Klein, used with permission.

They bought on clearance and from auction websites: For cute shoes and accessories at a great price, the family headed to Payless.

Klein and her girls shopped around, but they didn't really like anything, and the dresses were very expensive. They turned to eBay and found a vintage slip gown for $7.

"I figured for that price it was worth gambling; it came cleaned and pressed, to my surprise, and fit her perfectly," Klein recalls. Her daughter still really loved her shoes from the previous year, so she wore those again.

Klein's youngest daughter liked that prom dress so much that she says that if she ever wants to marry, that ivory dress might do the trick.

Total cost for prom and potential wedding dress: $7

[rebelmouse-image 19534403 dam="1" original_size="448x249" caption="GIF from "Footloose."" expand=1]GIF from "Footloose."

When it came time for her son to attend prom, Klein decided to purchase a tux, dress shirt, tie, and vest on clearance instead of rent them because she figured it was a better investment. He ended up wearing that getup to four proms, and Klein has since loaned it to other kids in need of a tux for prom.

Total cost: $132 plus the joy of an investment paying off for other families.

Lastly, they committed to eliminating corsages and flowers to cut down on both on costs and waste.

In addition to ideas like borrowing, swapping, and thrifting, a number of organizations in communities across the country give away donated prom dresses to those who cannot afford them. Check out the Princess Project or Google "Cinderella project" and your location to find one of these locations in your area.

2. Hair and makeup

Klein's oldest wore her hair down and wore minimal makeup that she did herself for each of her proms.

Cost: $0

[rebelmouse-image 19534404 dam="1" original_size="480x257" caption="GIF from "Romy and Michele's High School Reunion."" expand=1]GIF from "Romy and Michele's High School Reunion."

Klein says her younger daughter did her own make-up and hair but that the hair did not work out so great.

Klein, a writer, happened to be up on a reporting fellowship in an extremely remote area of arctic Alaska around prom time. She gave her husband and daughter instructions for a simple updo, and they managed to get her out the door looking good, but it fell out shortly after. Klein says she was pretty unhappy about it.

"She's not one to make a fuss about things, but it was definitely a disappointment to her," she says. "She hadn't asked to have her hair done professionally, but it was one of those times when a mom wishes she'd been home for her daughter."

After the hair fiasco of the previous year, her daughter asked if she could have her hair put up professionally the following year. Klein obliged.

Total cost: $0 and $65

3. Transportation, food, and post-prom

Klein's daughters sometimes had rides from significant others who could drive or they shared the cost of a party bus with friends. They swung through In-N-Out Burger for dinner.

In Klein's community, a lot of parents rent hotel rooms for their teens for the night, but her family was not comfortable with that for a lot of reasons, so they skipped out.

Total cost: $0-$50

Outside of the actual prom ticket, the Kleins had years where they spent nothing on prom. ‌‌

[rebelmouse-image 19534405 dam="1" original_size="500x281" caption="GIF from "100 Years of Prom in 2 Minutes"/Teen Vogue." expand=1]GIF from "100 Years of Prom in 2 Minutes"/Teen Vogue.

Their most expensive year cost around $280, which is significantly below the American average for the night. The cost of the prom ticket at their school was $70.

In fact, most schools and communities are doing their part to help make sure the night is accessible to everyone.

School administrators are directing families to resources like community dress give-aways and often assist lower-income families with obtaining prom tickets, too. (This school partnered with a non-profit; kids wrote essays in exchange for everything they need for prom.)

The fact is, prom can be affordable. One fun night doesn't have to (and shouldn't) break the bank. As the Kleins have discovered, a creative spirit, knowing where to look for deals, and a commitment to the fun of it all makes all the difference.

Pop Culture

Artist uses AI to create ultra realistic portraits of celebrities who left us too soon

What would certain icons look like if nothing had happened to them?

Mercury would be 76 today.

Some icons have truly left this world too early. It’s a tragedy when anyone doesn’t make it to see old age, but when it happens to a well-known public figure, it’s like a bit of their art and legacy dies with them. What might Freddie Mercury have created if he were granted the gift of long life? Bruce Lee? Princess Diana?

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Alper Yesiltas, an Istanbul-based lawyer and photographer, created a photography series titled “As If Nothing Happened,” which features eerily realistic portraits of long gone celebrities in their golden years. To make the images as real looking as possible, Yesiltas incorporated various photo editing programs such as Adobe Lightroom and VSCO, as well as the AI photo-enhancing software Remini.

“The hardest part of the creative process for me is making the image feel ‘real’ to me,” Yesiltas wrote about his passion project. “The moment I like the most is when I think the image in front of me looks as if it was taken by a photographer.”

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All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

True

Adewole Adamson, MD, of the University of Texas, Austin, aims to create more equity in health care by gathering data from more diverse populations by using artificial intelligence (AI), a type of machine learning. Dr. Adamson’s work is funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS), an organization committed to advancing health equity through research priorities, programs and services for groups who have been marginalized.

Melanoma became a particular focus for Dr. Adamson after meeting Avery Smith, who lost his wife—a Black woman—to the deadly disease.

melanoma,  melanoma for dark skin Avery Smith (left) and Adamson (sidenote)

This personal encounter, coupled with multiple conversations with Black dermatology patients, drove Dr. Adamson to a concerning discovery: as advanced as AI is at detecting possible skin cancers, it is heavily biased.

To understand this bias, it helps to first know how AI works in the early detection of skin cancer, which Dr. Adamson explains in his paper for the New England Journal of Medicine (paywall). The process uses computers that rely on sets of accumulated data to learn what healthy or unhealthy skin looks like and then create an algorithm to predict diagnoses based on those data sets.

This process, known as supervised learning, could lead to huge benefits in preventive care.

After all, early detection is key to better outcomes. The problem is that the data sets don’t include enough information about darker skin tones. As Adamson put it, “everything is viewed through a ‘white lens.’”

“If you don’t teach the algorithm with a diverse set of images, then that algorithm won’t work out in the public that is diverse,” writes Adamson in a study he co-wrote with Smith (according to a story in The Atlantic). “So there’s risk, then, for people with skin of color to fall through the cracks.”

Tragically, Smith’s wife was diagnosed with melanoma too late and paid the ultimate price for it. And she was not an anomaly—though the disease is more common for White patients, Black cancer patients are far more likely to be diagnosed at later stages, causing a notable disparity in survival rates between non-Hispanics whites (90%) and non-Hispanic blacks (66%).

As a computer scientist, Smith suspected this racial bias and reached out to Adamson, hoping a Black dermatologist would have more diverse data sets. Though Adamson didn’t have what Smith was initially looking for, this realization ignited a personal mission to investigate and reduce disparities.

Now, Adamson uses the knowledge gained through his years of research to help advance the fight for health equity. To him, that means not only gaining a wider array of data sets, but also having more conversations with patients to understand how socioeconomic status impacts the level and efficiency of care.

“At the end of the day, what matters most is how we help patients at the patient level,” Adamson told Upworthy. “And how can you do that without knowing exactly what barriers they face?”

american cancer society, skin cacner treatment"What matters most is how we help patients at the patient level."https://www.kellydavidsonstudio.com/

The American Cancer Society believes everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer—regardless of how much money they make, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender identity, their disability status, or where they live. Inclusive tools and resources on the Health Equity section of their website can be found here. For more information about skin cancer, visit cancer.org/skincancer.

via Dion Merrick / Facebook

This article originally appeared on 02.09.21


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