You want to do a WHAT?!

It’s way worse than a four letter word for most mothers, and as I sit and type this blog, my beautiful, talented and slightly more than overweight almost eleven year old daughter has decided she wants to enter one.

Yes, I’m talking about BEAUTY pageants.  The kind that conjure up JonBenét Ramsey and the wonderful film Little Miss Sunshine.  Featuring a special ilk of glitz-obsessed middle Americans this is a culture that is foreign to many of us, yet for some, including my suddenly obsessed eldest, it fuels a passion that is almost cult-like in its fervor.

My daughter has recently become consumed with pageants, watching episode after episode of Toddlers and Tiaras on Netflix.  How she even came to find this series, I have no idea, but God help me, it’s been the topic du jour for close to a week now.

The problem is, I don’t think she is going to take “no” for an answer and worse, I am not sure I should prohibit her.  What kind of life lesson would this experience give her?  How overprotective should I be?  Where do I draw the line, disconnect Netflix and write a nasty blog slamming this incredible service for being — well — incredible, or do I just slip effortlessly into can-do mode and see how we can enter a pageant?

Okay… so if you haven’t figured it out, I have a confession to make; as a teenager I participated in two pageants.  Th experiences were tough and I will do anything to prevent my daughter, who is a plus size child, from being embarrassed, shamed or put down.

My first pageant was unintentional.  My guidance counselor in high school had entered me in a “contest” that I won based on my academic success and extra-curricular interests.  But apparently, it was my interview that clinched it.  The next thing I knew, I had earned the title of “Miss San Carlos” my senior year of high school.  That’s when the “P” word crept in. As Miss San Carlos, I had the dubious honor of being required to spend some time at the County Fair walking around, wearing a sash and tiara and competing in the next round – the County level pageant.  Although I did not win Ms. San Mateo County, I did secure the Miss Congeniality prize (Sandra Bullock, eat your heart out).  And then I was hooked.  

The scholarship at the local level was enticing but before good sense or sanity could kick in I had entered myself in the next round – Miss Teenage USA – for a much larger college prize.  My motorcycle riding Mama had no idea what she was in for except that she had to kick in some cash to buy a real gown (the one I had worn for the County level just wouldn’t do) and shlep me down from Northern California to Disneyland and book a hotel for the night before the event.

HUNDREDS of girls had the same idea except they had something I did not – a LOT more experience and a true fervent desire to use the title to launch them into pageant stardom.  All I had wanted was cash for college.

I guess it’s not bad that I came in 48th out of a couple hundred, but I had no idea what I was doing there and never, ever wanted to return.

So I suppose my daughter saying she has aspirations to be a tween in a tiara was a tad nauseating mostly because I do not want her exposed to the saccharine side of mean girl mania aka pageantry.

But her logic is simple.

“Mama, I want to show the world that even being a bigger girl doesn’t mean I can’t be a princess too.”

For her, being in a beauty contest is a way of standing up for herself, presenting her on the outside in a way that can demonstrate who she is on the inside.  I don’t think she needs to prove anything but for my weight sensitive baby girl this is important to her.  She has something to say and knows how she wants to say it.

So who am I to stand in her way?  Will she be crushed emotionally?  God I hope not but isn’t that what life is all about?  Sometimes it’s only through handling tough situations that you really prove what you’re made of.

As I prepare to throw our Netflix device in the trash I am tempted to check out an episode of Toddlers and Tiaras… I mean, why the heck not?

6 Responses to You want to do a WHAT?!
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  3. Anne O'Connell (@annethewriter)
    January 21, 2012 | 12:45 am

    Hi Shira,
    I’ve just started following your blog (thanks for the follow on Twitter, that’s how I found you). I have to tell you I’m hooked! I loved Little Miss Sunshine and I really hope your daughter’s experience is a positive one. I guess we’ll read about it here!

    • Diva-Mama
      January 21, 2012 | 8:07 am

      Hi Anne,
      A warm welcome to you and thank you for the kind compliment. So far I’ve been able to nudge my daughter’s desire for healthy attention towards a more appropriate venue. Today is her second audition for a really warm, supportive and engaging children’s theatre company! Here’s hoping . . .

    • Diva-Mama
      January 30, 2012 | 12:35 pm

      Dear Anne,

      Thank you so much for being a new fan and follower. I am so grateful to have the support of creative women like you! I just Google+d you, btw. Stay tuned . . . more inspiring life moments to come and then, one day, the book!

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