Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Pageant Prayer

Remember from last week the Post-It notes in bathrooms and the idea that the strive for beauty should not consume your every being? I wish I could have printed that blog and have a handwritten Post-It to give to every girl in this hotel.

This past weekend my grandma, two aunts, mother, sister, and I had a Girls' Weekend. As we enjoyed our pasta dinner late on Saturday night, there were two tables occupied in the entire restaurant. Ours, the six of us in comfortable clothes, minimal make-up, and freshly pedicured toes. And theirs, the beauty queens dressed to the hilt competing in a teen pageant and their accompanying flamboyant male friends.

Despite both being tables primarily filled with women, there were striking differences between the two. We discussed frivolous things like butt germs, pit chips, the history of deodorant, and doofus-ness. They discussed important matters, reapplied make-up, and nodded politely to one another. We waiting patiently for the waitress before we ordered our traditional trip diet of pancakes and pasta; they chased her down before having a special request with every order. My grandmother chastised me for my poor posture and flat hair; every detail of these women was scrutinized.

Every time I glanced towards their table I saw the same thing: a plastered smile flanked by over-treated hair. However, in one girl in particular did not seem to follow the trend. Rather, beneath the layers of make-up, her face showed defeat, exhaustion, and sadness.

Excuse me, ma'am, I said to her in my head. Your fake-smile is accompanied by a deep sadness in your eyes. You're trying to hide it under all of those layers of make-up, but you're not successful.

In the conversation in my mind, the sad girl explained she'd just lost the tiara. It seemed plausible. Maybe she'd risked everything to be here once more before she out-grew the age bracket and led the stiff competition before losing the tiara at the last final moment. Except it led me to wonder if others were more successful in hiding behind their facades. Was it possible that all of these girls were screaming for help?

A few summers ago, I worked with several pageant girls. I heard them talk about the rigors of their chosen lifestyle. They eat, sleep, and breathe pageants; most of them love it. The strict diet, the close relationships with their tailor, and the drama all included. It blows my mind. Knowing how self-conscious I became merely sharing a hotel restaurant with these pageant people I cannot imagine the pressure required to sit at that table. Those high heels hurt my feet, and I’m not even wearing them.

That does not mean I look down my nose at them in disgust.

Pageant girls, I admire your dedication. Your willingness to sacrifice everything to fulfill a dream.

I want that.
Except I don’t want my goal to be a diamond-filled tiara. Rather, I want six simple words. “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

<>< Katie

PS: What's a Girls' Weekend without a good quote?
Grandma: These pancakes that look like eyes would be really good for if you have a hangover. You're eating breakfast, and they're staring back at you.
Aunt: Yeah, throw some tabasco sauce on them and it's like looking in a mirror!

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