I'm A Beauty Pageant Diva...NOT!!!

Have you ever watched that television show "Toddlers and Tiaras"?  I had seen it listed on the viewing menu many times but had never stopped to take a look...until the other day.  Now THAT show is scary!  Wow, what prissy little divas...and their mothers; it's a little much to take.  I can remember when Caitlin used to BEG me to be in a pageant.  It, like many other things she endeavored, was not quite as "Fun" or "Glamorous" as she thought.

I was never really one of those moms who felt compelled to enter my children in all sorts of contests.  Beauty pageants, in my opinion, are just that.  Oh, when a girl becomes high school or college age and can decide for themselves  that it is something they want to do, I suppose it is alright...to each his own.  However, if one has never been in a pageant at that age and just decides to "jump" into the pageant world...BEWARE!  For THAT is exactly what we did.

Caitlin was a freshman in high school and she had begged for quite a while to be in a pageant.  When an advertisement for one being held in New Orleans came in the mail, I relented.  From all of my research and everything I read, it should be a "Stress-Free pageant that only built a girl's self-esteem; a really positive experience for any girl."  HMPH!!!  Well, just let me tell you this (for future reference...); all of those words previously mentioned?  Should NOT be used in the same sentence as the word pageant!

Since I bought into all of the "No pressure" associated with the pageant, I decided to not enter all of the other categories (which each cost an additional fee...); just the main contest.  She would need a formal (check...already had that) and no suit was required, she could just wear a nice skirt and top (check...had that too).  The brochure stated that the interview part would be "very low-key, with no serious questions being posed to the contestants".  Although I was not crazy about participating in a pageant per se, this appeared to be the "Perfect" one for us.  I quickly discovered that the entire brochure was merely a product of  good marketing.

Upon arriving at our hotel (also the venue of the pageant), we noticed girls walking around with banners across their chests and crowns upon their heads...in regular street clothes.  How wonderful...everyone must be a winner; what a positive experience this was going to be.  We got our agenda, took our luggage to our room and got ready for the first practice.  THAT is when my eyes were opened and for the first time I could see what was in store for us that weekend.  The brochure had indicated that each girl would be required to introduce themselves, but it was no big deal.  They had to state their name, where they were from and some sort of goal they had.  Hmmm...that seemed easy enough and we rehearsed it a few times.  As we sat in the auditorium awaiting our turn, I can only explain it as being flabbergasted at what I witnessed.  Most of these girls were pros!  Lifetime pageant girls.  We were definitely out of our league here.  They had this special little swagger as they pranced across the stage, announced their name with a flourish, and goal?  HA!  It was more like a rendition of their life plan...and then as they nodded their head and winked at the audience, they once again said, "I AM, Miss Blah, Blah, Blah, Number Whatever".  Can I tell you that I was in shock?  Caitlin was too and we quickly picked up on a few things to get us through the practice session and made it back to our room.  The evening gown competition was that evening.  I have to say that Caitlin's dress was one of the prettiest ones there.  And that is not only my opinion, because several people told me that afterwards.  Those pageant moms were staking out the competition.  I noticed that many of them had little pads of paper in their hands and as each contestant took the stage, they were taking notes.  I asked someone what they were doing and they told me that they were making notes on the girls who were competing against their daughters...REALLY?!  That was the craziest thing I had ever heard of.  OK, I'll admit that I had seen coaches and dads do that at baseball games, but it made a little more sense there.  We made it through Day One.  The next day would be Interview Day.  Caitlin and I both were a little nervous about that.

That infamous brochure and other material we subsequently got concerning the pageant said that the interview part of the competition would be quite informal and there would not be any questions asked that should be difficult to answer.  In retrospect, I would like to say..."DEFINE DIFFICULT".  Let's just say that Caitlin took the questions all quite literally.  The room was set up with judges at tables and each contestant moved from judge to judge after a timer went off.  I was not in there; just told this.  These are a sampling of the questions posed and answers given by Caitlin:  What is you favorite quote?  "Quote?!  Now they told me we weren't going to be asked any questions concerning school!  Do you think I could have another question?"  What do you see when you look in the mirror?  "Well, my reflection, of course!"  Who do you think will most likely win this competition and why?  "Mary Johnson...because she is such a nice person." Just FYI...there was NO Mary Johnson in the competition it was merely a name she made up and flipped through the program in hopes of finding someone by that name so they would find her out.  Who is your favorite president and why?  Mind going blank, she could only think of one...George Washington.  Looking puzzled, the judge asked, why?  "Well, he WAS the Father of our Country!"  As she made her way through the judging panel, she became more and more agitated and upset.  This was not the "Fun Pageant" she thought it would be; it was turning out to be quite stressful.  She made her way to a judge's table who was a former queen, where she asked Caitlin what her favorite make-up item was...one she just couldn't do without.  Caitlin said, "Mascara".  "Really?", the former queen asked.  "Mascara is REALLY what you can't do without?  How can that be?  Mascara?  Mine is lipstick."  Caitlin then abruptly
 said, "You asked ME what beauty item I couldn't go without and IT IS MASCARA!!!"  Finally making it to an older judges table, she was in tears.  He simply looked at her and said, "I can tell you are upset, so I'm just going to let you sit here."  When she exited the room, she tearfully came straight to me and said, "I'm done!  I'm ready to go home now."  I quickly informed her that we were almost through and she was going to see this thing through to the end.  Just the final production that evening and THEN she was done.

That afternoon, the contestants practiced their opening choreographed dance number, where one of the contestants actually tapped Caitlin on the shoulder and told her, "If you really want to make me happy, you will change places with me" (Caitlin was on the front row).  Caitlin simply turned around and said, "I don't really care about making you happy...I'm staying right where I am!"  Needless to say, she would also NOT be a candidate for "Miss Congeniality".  She completed the contest, did not win a thing...no, I will take that back.  She may NOT have gained a crown or trophy, but she certainly DID gain some knowledge of what the pageant world is like.  This would not be the first or last thing that Caitlin got involved in over the years that made one scratch their head and mumble the words..."Be careful what you wish for, because things are not always what they seem!"

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