was the world I slipped into Saturday night. Of course, the reality show grabbing my attention was the Tweens, Teens and Tiaras portion as the toddlers had all been crowned the week previous. They were still there with their tiaras, sashes, frills and faux hair pieces--alternately being darling and wreaking havoc--but my emphasis was on my sweet cousin, C. She was there to vie for the crown of 2011 Miss Georgia Southland.
C. has been in pageants since she was about a toddler. When she was little, I honestly thought that her participation was completely mom-driven. Most likely it was. Every mom thinks their little darling is the most darling, and C.'s mama being no different, these pageants seemed to scratch the itch of recognition.
C.'s participation the last several years though have not been about the darling but about the scholarship money. The prize last night was $10,000. That's nothing to sneeze at. If I could dress up, walk around in 5 inch death traps and totter off with $10,000, I'd be throwing my falsies onto the stage as well.
I was in one pageant when I was a junior in high school. My best friend had competed in pageants her whole life and she encouraged me to go for it. Umm, right. I was the known school book nerd. Barely out of glasses and braces, the idea of me being in a pageant was ridiculous to me and the rest of the school once they heard about it.
Something in me bit at the challenge though. In addition to running against 9 other girls, I was up against the two known school beauties. Those were long weeks of preparation to walk through the school halls or overhear a lunchroom conversation about how A. was going to win this and J. was going to win that but "moi" was going to win squat.
Fast forward. I won 2nd runner up. A. and J. finished with "nada." Very gratifying in that whole teen movie ending. I was encouraged to compete again, by the judges no less, but I had done what I wanted to do--make the point that I could do something entirely opposite to the general understanding of who I was. That and balance on 4 inch death traps.
But C.'s pageant on Saturday was a 20 plus years look at what is clearly a culture. Those girls and their mamas, in a couple of cases their pink-shirted daddies, knew their business. And they were serious as bones about their business. There were evening gowns that probably cost two or five months of car payments; modeling outfits that cost more than my wedding dress; and talent that should not ever have left the family den. There were people wearing t-shirts advertising their favorite; family members holding signs for their girl; and looks that could kill when a particular star did or did not get quite the audience cheer her fans expected.
I tried to keep my head down, the comments to a minimum and survive the four and a half hours. I did, and in the end, it was all worth it. C. walked away with the crown. She now has $10,000 for her college tuition, a year of community service in the pageant system and she spoke for the platform dearest to our collective family's heart: Think Zebra! Awareness for the Immune Deficiency Foundation.
We're very proud of her. But it may not be until she gives up her title before I'll slip a toe back into that show. It's just not my protein drink anymore.