Are we raised in a society obsessed with retail and fame, so much so that it has become part of an important coming-of-age ritual? Or is a Sweet 16 party just as culturally important as a Latin American Quinceañera celebration? The Oracle conducted a survey to find out what it is about the Sweet 16 that makes it so sweet.
An Oracle survey found that the majority (72.5%) of Archer girls in tenth grade or above have experienced a Sweet 16 extravaganza, celebrated by either their friends or themselves. The term “Sweet 16” brings dresses and glitter to mind, but more than half of these occasions are in simple restaurant settings—food and gifts, what more could you ask for?
When asked why some consider the Sweet 16 a big deal, student answers varied. The largest portion said that it’s simply because it’s fun, but a close second said that it’s a combination of people wanting attention, an American obsession with fame, and personal reasons.
The Quinceañera, a Latin American celebration of a girl’s fifteenth birthday, marks her transition from childhood to womanhood. The celebration has structure and culture behind it, with ceremonies like the father changing her flats to heels.
Seeing as the Quinceañera came first on the party train, the Oracle asked how students believe the Sweet 16 and the Quinceañera differ. The largest portion said that “one has ethnic background,” followed by “they are based on different ideas” and “one has value while the other is just a party.” Of course some place significant value in the Sweet 16 and hey, why not? One Archer student says, “I want one because it’s a big party and parties are fun. I like how you can kind of customize it according to your personality.”
Despite the difference in cultural backgrounds, the Sweet 16 and Quinceañera are really just big parties marking a girl’s coming of age. The shoes, the dresses, the lights, the dancing… it’s all in good fun. After all, girls do just want to have fun.
Featured Image: An ice cream cake with candles. Photographer: Rosemary Pastron ’16