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Beauty Queen (1 Viewer)


Sgt. Pepper's Girl

This is sort of a ranting essay I wrote not too long ago. I'm not too experienced in writing essays, so be gentle:

Today my sister asked to enter a beauty pageant. She found one of those little brochures advertising for one that someone sent to me. When I got in the mail a couple of days ago, I looked it over, scoffed, made sure no one was looking, flipped off the boldly colored informational literature, and tossed it aside. I should have thrown it away.
If I had been thinking at all I would have none that my sisters, disciples of the television, as I had once been. Whatever the television says is true; real-life is every bit like they say it is on the television. Even though my life is nothing like it, it should be.
I was once a disciple of the television, I admit reluctantly. Those were in the days before I discovered my love for books and writing. See, those two things don’t go hand in hand. You can’t want to be just like Hilary Duff or Lindsay Lohan and be a lover of anything with depth. The further I dug into different books about different things I had never heard of, provoking all kinds of thought in me, I saw those television “role models” for what they were: surface, self-centered girls with eyes that never saw beyond the cutest boy or the shopping mall. I grew to despise this image of what the media told me was what I should be, and if I was anything but that, well then I was destined for a life of unpopularity and misery. Since my self-revelations I’ve made it one of my life’s missions to tear down the lie that so much of my generation buys into.
Still, I don’t blame those who buy the lie. Though tawdry and empty, it’s visually pleasing and so overwhelmingly enforced.
My sister kind of knows that’s she’s not meant to be the “ideal average American girl.” At nine-years-old her favorite bands are Green Day and The Beatles. She knows that she’s not normal, but she’s too young (especially in this nation) to know that there is nothing wrong with that. She hasn’t quite fully accepted it.
That’s why she wanted to enter the beauty pageant. A character on one of her favorite television shows once entered a pageant. I know what she was thinking when she saw that brochure. She was thinking about how much fun it looked when those characters entered that pageant and got into some wacky situation or another. She was thinking that it was going to be great fun and that she would have a lot of laughs, and it would all be just like it was on TV.
She brought the brochure to my mother and asked her if she could please, please, please be entered into the pageant. My mother looked over the brochure with all of the excessively happy, thin, pretty young girls and told my sister “no”.
I watched as her face instantly fell, and she asked again and again, but my mother’s answer never wavered.
My mother explained herself after a couple of minutes. She told my sister that this was not a time in a young girl’s life when she should be put up for display and judged. She asked her “what if you don’t win?” something my sister had probably never considered. And then my mother went on into the heart breaking discussion about how my sister was just too reserved and self-contained to be in something that forces you to be so outgoing.
Beyond my mother’s reasons, I was making my own list, in my head, of all the reasons I didn’t think my sister should enter. Number one, the idea of beauty pageants is completely demeaning and will do nothing but inflict traumatizing insecurities onto these young, impressionable girls. Number two, it supports the notion that there is a certain definition of beauty and if you want to be beautiful you must fit it.
“This is the beauty box,” I imagine a stuck up, French man saying with an expensive tuxedo and thin mustache as he stands behind a very small and narrow box. “Fit into this box or you are not beautiful. And once you think you’ve successfully fit into this box, parade around and let us evaluate you see if you’ve done it properly. If you do not win our box fitting contest then, I’m sorry, but though you may have fit sufficiently, you did not fit as well as the winner.”
I can’t help but think of all the poor girls who, whether they want to or not, go through these pageants. Who are primped and basically pimped out to judges to be evaluated. I imagine them as grown women, obsessed with their appearance and the way they portray themselves to people. I imagine all the money they’ll spend on beauty enhancing products and, for a good deal of them, cosmetic surgery.
In my opinion, a beauty pageant is nothing more than the most blatant form of the evaluation process we put our young girls through every day.
This next part is going to sound like it was from Oprah, but every time a girl about pre-teen age or younger opens a magazine and sees all the girls who don’t look that much different from one another and are all said to be what is beautiful, the French man tells her to get into the box. It’s the only way to be beautiful, they’re told, and they must fit into the box.
What about the girls who can’t fit into the box, no matter how hard they try? What about the girl who can never be thin because her genetics won’t allow it? What about the girl with big, curly, frizzy, rebellious hair that can never be cut and styled into what’s “in”? What about the little girl with her body covered in freckles? What about the ethnic girl, especially the one with dark skin, who will never have blond hair or blue eyes? Do they even stand a chance?
I also find that it’s not just girls who accepting this notion that “this is what is beautiful” but guys as well. How could they not buy into this notion too? After all, aren’t we feeding them all the same poison? The same “dream girl” we tell girls they should be, we tell our boys it’s what they should have. The guys shrug their shoulders unless taught to do otherwise and say, “ok.” And now the girls are faced with a double dilemma. Not only do they have to fit into the box to be beautiful, now they have to fit into the box if they want to be wanted, by anyone.
But, once again, what is to become of those previously mentioned girls, the ethnic girls and the girls who have found themselves at something of a physical oddity? Why, they have no choice to become The Music Video Girl!
Ah yes, this invention of the always scantily clad dressed girl with an insatiable sexual appetite. You can find her in most hip-hop video, usually dancing on a car, a guy, who any other inanimate object. She bold, fiery, and sassy, and she wants your body. She’s the substitute for the All-American Dream Girl. It’s a wider box, easier to fit in. All you need is an ample amount of make up, the ability to gyrate in inappropriate ways, and clothing that barely covers anything at all. The thinking behind the creation of this girl is “sure, she’s not the blond haired, blue-eyed ideal, but she’s more likely to put out so she’s a nice consolation.” And whereas I believe that ethnic women should be proud of their natural, ample curves and should celebrated, just not to the point of exploitation.
So where does that leave a girl like me? One who is not willing to journey that society has set before me? That leaves her a bit of a loner. Someone with opinions, convictions, morals, and principals during a time when most her age do not. She is forced for forge her own path, but the beauty of this is once I’ve forged it someone behind me can clearly see another path to take.
I once worried about becoming unpopular, back in my days as a disciple of the television. It was always implied that those unpopular people endured all sorts of hardship and misery. And, thought I can say that this part of my life as an oddball is lonely and not at all ideal, I realize that this is a temporary part of my life. That, beyond this point in time, is a much longer time called my adulthood. That, in that time, some of these children I know will grow up. In that time, when the world opens itself wide for me, I can find those like me, my brothers and sisters of the outcasts civilization. I can join those who have known, just as I have, that the road of the “average” person is painfully empty and have seen it for what it was for some time. I believe that in my time as a grown woman, things will be better. Not necessarily easier, but better, and someone will love me, even though I’m not a music video girl or an all-American. I will have made no compromise in who I was, and I will shine all the same.
God bless my sister who won’t be entering that beauty pageant this year, or for any year after that. And God bless every other girl like my sister, who will never be what society tells her she should be, and is down on herself because of it.
Change will come.