(I might take a few days to get out all the stories I've been dying to tell you, so sewing projects will take a back seat, but don't worry, my mind was still thinking about sewing the whole time, and found a lot of inspiration and construction details I will be sharing. Oh and after day 1 there will be a bunch of photos, so hang in there!)
I didn't think a beauty pageant would impact my life other than all the funny stories it would add. I know who I am and where I fit in the world, and I didn't think a couple of snobby girls could make me reflect on it as much as they did.
At the first meeting, within minutes I knew this was going to poorly run and I didn't fit in. I had thought we had all gotten the same information packet and were told to arrive and 4, with our husbands, and to dress "sharp casual". I took this as an opportunity to wear what I wore to my grandfather's funeral. Before I had left I wondered if it was too dressy. We arrived at a the meeting place, a gym. I couldn't help but be embarrassed walking into a gym in heels and a wool skirt. I arrived with the hubs about 10 min early, along with two other ladies.
People SLOWLY trickled in as we watched people work out, all of us dressed to the nines. As some of the prettiest girls I've ever seen in real life walk in solo, it's clear some of us got different information. Turns out the husbands didn't need to be at this meeting until 6. The directer didn't show up until after 5.
In that hour I tried my best to find a reason to talk to these people. I was here, in a pageant, I should play the game right? I put on my best waitress face and mingled. I knew I was fucked when most of these girls were wearing their hair in the same bun I was going to wear with a ball gown, but it was their casual hair. I slowly became more and more intimidated. I don't think most of these girls know how to be in a conversation without the other person worshiping them or complementing them. Everyone else was using ice breakers like "omg I love your shoes" it soon became clear that no one loved my killer black patent heels from Pay-Less for 10 bucks as much as I did. Since I didn't like their stripper glitter bomb shoes I tried to talk about where they were from and if they had done pageants before. I tried to make jokes and wouldn't even get a pageant smile back.
We got split off from the husbands and got put in a tiny dance studio room. We lined up by state, in alphabetical order. Some how with the last name starting with an O, I was first in line. This also meant I would go on stage first. The director told us we would start to practice swim wear, ok go. I took a deep breath and walked out to the middle of the crowded room, all eyes on me. I posed and walked in the dumb circle like I've seen on TV. The director tried to be constructive I guess, and told me I forgot my pivot turn. I plainly told her I didn't know what that was, and I could instantly see the looks everyone was giving each other in the mirrors. The now former Mrs. Minnesota gave me a crash course and made me do it over and over. That's when the whispers started. I think they got sick of watching me and just moved on to the next person. I watched as everyone else moved across the room like pros. This happened for swimwear, costume and ball gown practice. Always first, always wrong.
Then it was time for the pot luck dinner. I didn't bring anything because, fuck you I just drove 4 hours and I'm not going to get lost trying to find a store to buy some potato salad. As we waited in line I heard someone say "Oh look someone brought wings for the guys!". I loaded up on those wings and ranch, and filled my plate with a pretty good spread. I weigh about 130 pounds give or take, and have never considered myself fat. Looking and the other girls' plates of lettuce scraps I felt 1000 pounds. I tried telling myself the same things I do when I see a super skinny pretty girl at the bar or pool or something. "Lora, would you rather have a few beers, or be super skinny" and I always take comfort in my choices to be fun in life rather then be "ideally" skinny. Only it didn't comfort me this time. I put myself here. I entered a skinny girl contest. I was now in the land of being unhappy just to be 2% prettier. No one else was here to have fun, or a life experience. They were here to win.
We were held captive until 10. Somehow they stretched 2 hours of needed information into 6 hours. I danced, I walked, my feet hurt. I hauled my misfit self back to the hotel room and had an unexpected break down.
My mind raced with all the money I had spent on this shit show. How this was my husband's and my vacation. I cried in a deluxe bathtub that on any other day I would have been over the moon to be in. I just felt stupid for knowing how I am and putting myself here. Mrs. Iowa hasn't spit on more than one person. She hasn't gotten into more fights than men she has slept with. What was I doing here? I just couldn't stop asking myself that, and crying. Which at this crazy stage made me think about how that crying will cause bags under my eyes, the fact I noticed that made me cry more. The pageant got to me. I hadn't felt so out of place since high school. I felt like everyone could see through me, how I was just a dirt ball from the wrong side of the tracks trying to fake her way into being invisible. I couldn't even blend in, and I wasn't sure why I wanted to.