The Prom. In a way, it's like the pre-wedding experience for girls. The boys, well, their experiences are vastly different. Each gender is loaded with expectations and stereotypes, some that overlap and some that are just blown out of proportion. Not all teens even want to go to prom. But for those that do, be aware of how Hollywood creates unrealistic expectations for teenagers that want to make prom infamous instead of simply enjoyable.

Hollywood Stereotype #1: Losing Your Virginity on Prom Night

Prom is seen as a step forward in the path to becoming an adult, albeit a ceremonial step at best. Losing your virginity was likely brought out into the open by horny teens wanting to go to college with a little "experience." Let's be honest, though. How shocking would it be to find out that, gasp, many prom attendees have not only lost their virginity prior to the prom, but are well beyond the awkward teenage sexcapades and innocence that many prom movies capitalize upon.

Think of that scene in What Women Want where Mel Gibson commends his daughter for deciding to not lose her virginity on prom night. Or She's All That's short plot shift into predictable when the "other" jock attempts to bed the leading lady, only to be air-horned. Does American Pie even need to be mentioned?

Hollywood presents losing your virginity as something monumental, all encompassing, and definitive of whether you're still a child, a kid, and immature. Society is showing Hollywood that, while many are way ahead of the scripts that pen first times coinciding with the last dance of the year, many more could care less. Much less. The jokes will remain, but many prom-goers are above or beyond the punch lines.

Image © Courtesy Channel 5

Hollywood Stereotype #2: Prom will be so beautiful you'll want to rip your now useless eyes out once it's over because, face it, nothing will ever top it.

Please high school graduates, try not to laugh at this. Don't spoil the underwhelming discovery for those 18 and under either. It's fun to experience the mystique of prom and all its production value through a movie while you're waiting to get there. Watching the actresses with full breasts, clear skin, and high cheekbones dance with insanely attractive men will make any 5th grader look forward to her prom. That breast part might make the boys take note. The gorgeous decorations and usually chic venues seal the deal.

Really, will your prom be held in an extravagant banquet hall used by dignitaries? On a boat? In a mansion? Chances are, a crappy banquet hall has squeezed in the "magic night" between bar mitzvahs and weddings to host your "Remember the Moment" themed dance. The food will suck more than you think, the DJ will disappoint in one way or another, and the decorations are going to be a joke compared to anything Hollywood puts on screen (and lights beautifully...and surrounds with attractive 20-something actors that are waaay past adolescence's baby-faced, zit-filled awkward stage).

Unless you went to a school that had lots of money, the experience will be underwhelming. The student council members that struggle to stretch a $2,000 budget make due with balloons and streamers, maybe a few nice favors, but there is no way your prom will look like Julia Stiles' a la 10 Things I Hate About You.

Hollywood Stereotype #3: Prom. Is. The. Biggest. Night. Of. High. School. EVER.

Not to beat a dead horse, but the big game or competition, your acceptance letters to college, graduation, and a million other personal memories will be Your. Biggest. Night. Of. High. School. EVER.

Then comes the rest of your life. Which trumps everything that came before, thankfully.

Story by Kate Kostal

Starpulse contributing writer