Southern Stories
The Giant Corsage Tradition in Texas
Aug 29/16

The Giant Corsage Tradition in Texas Posted by: Rod Ford | 0 Comments

Growing up in northern Louisiana, homecoming meant a football game, kings and queens, a dance and a giant corsage. I’ve never heard corsages called “mums” but it’s essentially the same thing. This Jezebel story highlights one photographer’s documentation of this big, showy tradition. 

Turns out these are a Texas tradition that I guess seeped over to Louisiana. I never thought twice about it, honestly. I figured it was something everyone did. But in case you’re unfamiliar with them, these corsages are often heavy and ornate. They’re pinned on in painfully awkward fashion by your date to the dance — or by your own parents if you’re having the worst day of your life. The corsages are typically made with school colors — in my case red and white — and may or may not feature fresh flowers. Cheap, plastic little trinkets hang among the ribbons, sometimes a reflection of a student’s school activities or maybe just random things like a football or a megaphone.

According to the Jezebel story, photographer Nancy Newberry calls these corsages, “Artificial, shiny and virtually unknown outside of Texas.” She thought the subject’s environment was an essential part of the photographical process. 

She started her portrait series in 2007 and has been working on it intermittently ever since. “I started a bit blind, but determined,” she wrote in an email to Jezebel. “It takes a long time to get these pictures and finding my subjects is a lengthy part of the process. It takes a lot of trust to open your home to a stranger. There may be easier ways to approach the subject, but photographically the environments are an important part of the work.”

When I was growing up, the corsages weren’t typically worn by boys, but it looks like that has changed over the past decade. Were corsages a tradition in your part of the world? Or do you consider this thing kind of weird?



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