I used to think that beauty pageants were shallow, sexist and pointless. To me, parading in shiny clothes in front of an audience so they can rate how beautiful you are was demeaning at best. I mean, really, who set the scale for beauty? Who are we to actually say that one person is more beautiful than another? We are all uniquely and differently endowed but all perfect still. The girls who went for these things always seemed to be borrowing heartache and/ or wanted a blow to their self-esteem. They send the wrong message about beauty, especially when small children are made to compete (really, it has to be illegal to give a two-year old a spray tan).

Besides, we don’t see boys hurrying to put on dinner dresses to compete in these things…

uh…maybe that’s a good thing…

So that was how I used to think…

Recently, a pageant was held in my school to promote some kind of drug or something and a good friend of mine was asked to compete. I encouraged her. Actually, I’m not sure why- maybe because she was a complete contradiction to the usual beauty queens. She wasn’t tall or a size zero. She wasn’t typically graceful or extra-ordinary. I guess I kinda felt like her competing would break the mold of the usual beauty pageants.

After much struggling with herself and wrestling her fear into a Pandora’s Box, she took a leap of faith and went for it. Incidentally, I unofficially took up the role of her assistant/ right hand woman/ whatever so I was able to really have a behind the scene look at pageantry.

Was it what I thought it would be?

Well, partly. I expected the whole competition thing that makes girls who used to be friends turn on each other so I wasn’t too surprised when one of the others made a nasty comment about my friend. And yes, a lot of stock was put into looks. But I was also pleasantly surprised. I saw that it was also an avenue to learn a great many things. You learn to walk gracefully, you learn to multi-task (imagine juggling tests with this pageant thing), you learn some great skills (I learnt a little salsa dancing!), you learn to be more disciplined and organized, you meet many new friends and win -or- lose, you become more popular than you used to be.

Most of all, it was fun.

It was also quite stressful, especially backstage during the actual event (Who knew my friend could be such a diva?).

Anyway, I wish I could tell you that this was one of those happy sappy stories that end with the good guys winning but sadly, this is real life!. So, no. We didn’t win. But then, neither did the thin, slim girls either. Rather another beautiful, atypical, not-so-slim girl won and I have to admit that she deserved it.

And even though we didn’t win, it was quite an experience. I even heard my friend saying she might like to try again which is something she could never have had the confidence to do. She didn’t get a blow to her self-esteem. Rather, I think it helped boost her confidence and now whenever she walks, people smile and wave to her.

So, even though beauty pageants have a lot of cons (Yeah, I’m still against child beauty pageants- all children are beautiful!!!!), they can be helpful too especially when the contestants are old enough to understand that losing isn’t a slight to them as people.

I’m starting to think that the benefits greatly outweigh the bad parts. Hmmm…maybe I’ll try out next year too….Lol….But really….