I went to our town’s teen beauty pageant last night. I went because I’ve known several of the girls since they were young, and it’s fun to see them growing up. I should say right up front…I’m not a fan of beauty pageants. Oh, sure, as a kid, I remember watching Miss America on TV, and thinking they were all so beautiful and charming. And as I grew up, the goal of every teenage girl was to be skinny, pretty, popular, and it wouldn’t hurt to be smart. But I didn’t think I was one of those girls, and it was nothing but devastating to put yourself into a position where you tried to compete with the “big guns” of popularity, and, of course, failed. I had very low self-esteem as it was, and I sure didn’t need any sort of public confirmation of my shortcomings.
But this isn’t about me…it’s about those young girls last night, and girls like them all over the country. At that age, it’s all about being popular. A pageant like this provides an opportunity to wear a fancy dress, get your hair done, put on lots of makeup, and try to balance on shoes that were not meant to be worn for walking around on a slippery wood floor. It also might get you a tiara and a sash! And, yes, the one redeeming factor here is that it also gets you a fairly small scholarship. But, girls, there are so many other ways to earn a scholarship!
I watched as each girl paraded past the judges, smiles and gowns all a-glitter. I listened as our local emcee read off each girl’s height, eye and hair color, and a bit about them. I watched them share their talents with the audience (and the judges.) But I didn’t hear from them why they wanted to be Miss Smalltown, USA. I didn’t hear from them what their passions are, or who they are, or hope to become.
The outgoing princess is a very nice girl, but she seemed rather obsessed with the whole princess thing. You know, the thing where every little girl wants to be a princess? Well, that’s fine for a 5 year old, but once you get to be a teenager, shouldn’t you be thinking of becoming something a little more realistic than a princess? And if you really NEED a tiara, you can go out and buy one, without putting yourself through the whole pageant scene.
As I understand it, the main duties of the winning court is to make appearances throughout the year, representing our town. Parades, festivals, other pageants, etc. Among the visiting royalty last night was one girl from another town who was Miss Something Or Other, and her dress was actually shorter than her sash. I’m not kidding! How is that representing her town? And last night they even invited back all of the past royalty, and many of them were there, all wearing their tiaras. The fact that they were there was actually kind of sweet, but I had to wonder if they’d all kept their tiaras all these years, or if some had to be borrowed or replaced. I guess a tiara might be pretty important to you, so maybe you tuck it in your hope chest.
I really don’t want to bash the past or present princesses, or the pageant itself. I’m sure that being in a pageant builds confidence, social skills, and community involvement. It’s just my opinion that there are many ways to represent your community, and many ways to share your talents with your community. And even if you decide you need to compete for a princess title, don’t lose who you are in the act of walking the catwalk. Because if you look around as an adult, your successes and happiness are not at all tied to whether you were once a princess or not. You don’t see the CEO of a company wearing her tiara to work every day. Your third grade teacher doesn’t have her sash on for recess duty. And if you didn’t get chosen, remember that it’s just a show, and the judges picked who they picked. It doesn’t make you less of a person.