Sunday, August 1, 2010

Beauty Pageant hell, Circa 2003

A little gem from the 2003 Diary of a Mad Pageant Mom. Pageants are indeed their own circle of hell, at least for me...


Arrived in Laughlin yesterday. I believe I've found the armpit of the earth. It's kind of like Las Vegas' redneck cousin, which is VERY sad when I think about it.

Can you say "cheese fest?" This event comes complete with smarmy emcees and satin banners. If I hear the word "prestigious" one more time as it applies to their "fabulous awards", I'll attack someone with a scepter. Prestigious?! I ask you, have you ever heard of the Cinderella scholarship program? Prestigious to whom?

I have seen the devil - and she puts mascara on her four year old daughter. I have no idea what motivates that. The prizes aren't that great. A few hundred dollars won't begin to cover the cost of therapy that these kids will require. Between the cigarette smoke from the casino (yep, a wholesome "scholarship pageant" in a casino) and the hairspray cloud, I might need an iron lung by the end of the week.

Daughter did her interview with the judges today. The girls were supposed to wear business attire, so said daughter chose a tailored lemon yellow skirt suit with turquoise and pink flowers on it. And turquoise and lime stiletto sandals. And she looked fabulous. All of the other girls - I'm not making this up - had on cookie cutter polyester suits in subdued colors with low heeled pumps. It was definitely a daughter moment. She said the judges are great, two of them are guys who are "SO HOT", but sadly, also gay. Which probably means she'll win after a few days of "girlfriend" chats about shoes.....

Off to bed. Another fabulous day awaits.

DAYS 2&3

I've discovered that estrogen can be toxic in large doses. 130 girls and 130 Moms, its hormone overload! Side effects include an insane desire to laugh at inappropriate moments and a severe allergy to cheese.

One of the emcees did a "special number" at dinner. He personified the smarmy lounge singer. It made my teeth hurt and kind of spoiled my appetite, which was unfortunate because the meals are good. I don't know where they got these people.

Laughlin and Bullhead City are a real treat. Anyone who complains about Wickenburg should be sentenced to a week here. The punishment could include an evening at Don Laughlin's Riverside Resort, where the average patron age is 82, and the atmosphere is totally white trash. Bullhead City has a Carl's Jr. and a Sonic which is the ONLY thing about it that's better than Wickenburg.

Talent competition was yesterday, and hysteria was high. I watched most of the teens and all of the adults. Some of them were very good, and some not so very good, to put it kindly. Out of the entire group of about 70 total, only a few were frighteningly thin. One of the contestants has cerebral palsy, and "sang" along to a tape of "Hero." She got a standing ovation, and it was the first moment of admiration I've had for the pageant industry. I saw a Mom in the hall coaching a 5 year old on how to look adorably embarrassed if she messed up. (Clasp hands by left hip, pivot on left toe, tilt chin down and head to the left, flutter eyelashes and say "oops!") Frozen smiles abound. Their cheeks must hurt. Genuineness is a detriment I guess. I saw about 5 of the talent competitors who looked like they were having a really good time. Said daughter was one of them. She sang her heart out and did a fantastic job.

Today's event is called "Casual Wear." The girls and ladies appear on stage, introduce themselves and model a 'casual' outfit. No one was casual, in mood or outfit. Lots of teeth and hair and very dressy outfits. "Hi I'm Susie Smith from beautiful scenic Yuma. I'm 16 years old, with a 4.0 GPA and a junior at Yuma High in the fall. I'm an accomplished dancer, pianist, figure skater, rodeo queen, and singer. In my spare time I teach handicapped children and train rescue dogs for Himalayan disasters. My real passions are acting and medicine so someday you'll be able to say "Oh my gosh! My plastic surgeon is starring in Overachievers on Broadway!!!" (You think I'm kidding, don't you?)

Note to self: check with Disney Corporation's legal department. Cinderella copyright infringement appears rampant.

Day 4 – Party Wear. Can't wait.

Day 4
Every day has a theme party of some sort, and today it was “Western Hoedown.” Isn’t that just precious? I told one of the other Moms that I thought “ho down” was a 911 call in Harlem. Not only did she not laugh, she glared at me. I’m considering spiking the lemonade with Valium – these people need to relax!

Today’s competition was “party wear.” Sounds fairly simple, but instead it was a fashion show of every prom dress ever conceived. (Except for duct tape. No one wore a gown made out of duct tape.) Pastel chiffon and skirts the size of Rhode Island were the uniform of the day. Some of the girls had obviously been to a sale at David’s Bridal Shop, and were decked out in white with hand beading and Austrian lace. So of course Said daughter wore skintight black satin with a train. She was the only contestant in black and really stood out. (Hard to imagine, isn’t it?)

I found out today that many of the contestants brought hair and makeup people and talent coaches. I truly do not understand when the most you can win is a set of luggage, a cruise, a trip to Disneyworld, $500 cash and a $400 college scholarship. You could buy all of that and save money considering what you’d spend preparing for and participating in the pageant.

Day 5
Today is the Grand Finals and I am so excited! The other Moms and I met for a quick pump up session this morning, and those women are SO inspirational! They were kind enough to critique said daughter’s makeup and clothing and hair and I’m so grateful for the input! I can’t imagine how I missed out on the Cinderella Pageant Family all of these years. The girls could have been participating since they were 3! But I am so grateful that I have at last discovered this source of self-esteem for me and for said daughter.

Just kidding! You thought I had been drinking the pageant kool-aid didn’t you?

Grand finals began with a “fabulous opening show” which consisted of 120 girls dressed in their party wear and 4 smarmy emcees arranging themselves all over the stage. One category at a time, a double elimination was performed. They called out a top ten in every category except women, which had a top 5. Then one category at a time they eliminated all but top three, based on the judge’s scores over the past 4 days. Thus began the routine…all contestants hold hands and wish that the others were dead while the emcee calls out the top 5 or three names. Those remaining in each category change into “casual wear” and introduce themselves, then perform their talent. I saw a six year old – and I am not making this up - dance in a skimpy red costume to “Hot Hot Hot.” She shimmied and shook, ran her hands down her body repeatedly, and winked at the audience when the lyrics were suggestive. Her facial expressions and dance were so obviously coached that I mentally awarded her the “Stepford Child” trophy. The “tot” category got interviewed by the head Pageant Nazi who asked the darlings questions about their families. One said that her Daddy took care of everybody in the family. When PN asked the darling child who took care of Daddy, Scott leaned over and whispered “Bubbles, the Laughlin hooker.” I cracked up and hooted, which earned me dirty looks from all of those who were taking it seriously.

The final finals featured the top 3 holding hands, and waiting to hear who would be the winner and who would be the runners up. (TJ the emcee repeatedly informed us that 1st runner up is an extremely important position, for she will have to step into the magical Cinderella slippers should the winner not be able to perform her duties, or should nude pictures of her be discovered on the internet.) As the names were called, hands flew to mouths, tears shot from eyes, and one contestant actually fell to her knees and bawled when she was announced winner.

Said daughter was eliminated in the first round, she didn’t make it into the top 3. Honestly, I was disappointed, but not for the reasons you might think. I did not want her to win. As my friend Debra pointed out, said daughter does not need the self-esteem boost, she already has enough confidence for a third world country. Also, the prestigious crown carries with it a contract that says the winner will travel at her own expense to ribbon cuttings at car washes and video stores all over the great state of Arizona. No thank you. I was disappointed because she’s my girl, and I hate to see her disappointed. The disappointment was overcome with relief though, and didn’t last very long. Said daughter knew all along that the judges were looking for tall, blonde, conservative, demure girls and women. She doesn’t fit any of those categories, and I have to admire her for not trying to conform. She dyed her hair black the week before the pageant, for Pete’s sake. The only concession she made was to tone her eye makeup down from 5 shades of black to 2. Individuals really need not apply. At the awards banquet, she was awarded “best model,” an honor that carried with it a plastic trophy and the knowledge that the judges recognized her poise. There were awards given for two hours. No one goes home empty handed. After each award was announced, a taped fanfare was played that culminated in a choir singing “Cinnnnnderelllllaaaaaaa!” The banquet also featured the emcee gang doing an ensemble number that sent the resort staff running for the kitchen.

Now that it’s over, the only question I have is “where is my plastic and rhinestone crown?” I put up with the crap all week, and all I got out of it was a watch that I bought at The Watchman store (over 1million watches sold!) in the casino.

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