Friday, October 30, 2009


I have circle of friends who gather every time a beauty pageant airs on TV. They wear their tiaras and feather boas and share platters and bowls of fattening food and, most importantly, pitchers of margaritas. Then they pick the contestants apart and squeal with laughter.

How rare they would land such a flub as the little girl from South Carolina wanting to get maps into the hands of the kids in South Africa!

But what do you do when your very own daughter announces she wants to enter a pageant? Of course you ooze supportive sentiments and keep your doubts hushed up and quiet. I mean how can she compete against girls who have had years and years of experience of toddling around with vaseline on their teeth and duct tape on their boobs?

That was exactly the situation when my daughter proclaimed that she wanted to run for Miss Missouri. It came with a hefty entry fee that she managed to scrounge up through various sponsorships. A friend offered her a fabulous dress for competition and she mustered enough tanning bed trips to hide her lily white skin.

I sat in the audience that night, holding hands with my mother in a white knuckle clutch. We were in awe of actually being at a real beauty pageant. She and I had spent many years bonding over Pageant shows, not laughing at the contestants like my friends, but genuinely admiring the dresses and hairdos. And here we were at one live, with one of the contestants our own flesh and blood.

When she came down the stage stairs in an elegant glide, not tripping or stumbling like I would do, suddenly my eyes started streaming in nothing but pride. She was so beautiful, so graceful. We were sure she was well placed to actually win. It was devastating when her name wasn't called as a finalist, but she bounded out afterwards, tired but not dejected. It was a glorious experience, she said, and she landed a meaty scholarship to a school where she later found her calling.

Pageants come in many forms, not all of them for beauty queens. Amanda also ran for Miss Missouri for her favorite organization, Job's Daughters. This was more about her participation and knowledge of the organization as the winner would spend the next year promoting the group. This time she did place among the finalists, but no title. She came out of this one more dejected because she could really see herself winning. Just the same though, she came out with the most trophies and a killer smile.

Pageants can offer so much more than a tiara and title. Some come with scholarships, but they all offer an experience. A wise woman will take it for what it's worth and add it to her life resumé. Our job as parents is to clap like crazy and urge her on - neither of which is too difficult.

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