"Prom queen" is an honorific title granted to one female attendant of a high school prom
. The title is usually awarded during the dance itself, and the lucky girl is publicly recognized during a short coronation
ceremony. Selection as prom queen is usually considered a significant honor in the high school community
, and is highly desired by many – in addition to admiration, prom queens are frequently the objects of jealousy
. (It is worth noting that prom queens are mostly in the second half of their senior year
, so this honor might not be particularly long-lived.)
The selection of a prom queen is usually done by means of a vote by the student body, either conducted ahead of time, or by balloting of prom attendees. As the role of prom queen has no qualifications and carries with it no duties, this vote is usually a straight-up popularity contest, with the title frequently going to a particularly attractive and/or popular girl. This primacy of looks and popularity over other qualities, plus more than a bit of the aforementioned jealousy, often makes many unpopular girls, outsiders, geeks, and members of various subcultures think poorly of the institution. This has also helped to make "prom queen", like cheerleader, a stereotype of and shorthand for a popular, shallow, attractive, unintelligent, and/or manipulative girl, regardless of whether the individual in question is, in fact, a prom queen.
The prom queen's date is usually crowned the "prom king", although this role is sometimes filled by a parallel selection process for males. This has been known to create some difficulty if the prom queen does not have a date, and more if she has a female date (or multiple dates), although the girls for which this would be a problem are rarely selected as prom queens. Sometimes there is also a "prom court", usually consisting of runners-up for the title and their dates.
There is often a similar title bestowed upon one girl for the duration of homecoming festivities. Logically enough, she is called the homecoming queen.