Thursday, March 7, 2013

Tantrums and Tiaras

My husband has threatened to write a tell-all book entitled "The Ugly Side of Beauty Pageants," based on what he's observed from his point of view as a pageant husband. I decided I better beat him to the punch.

For one pageant or another, I've walked around the house dusting and vacuuming in sweatpants and four inch heels to practice walking in them, soaked my elbows in grapefruit halves for 30 minutes at a time (exfoliates the rough skin), had my mom hot glue rhinestones on to fishnet pantyhose while I was wearing them (calm down: they were for the talent competition. It was the only way to tell where they needed to be placed and her exact words every other time she burned me were "Well, do you want to win, or don't you?"). There's a lot of prep, and the prep isn't always pretty. Or as my cousin so perfectly put it yesterday, "Beauty is pain."

Clint's first real foray into this "ugly side" was a few years ago when I was preparing for a Mrs. pageant. Getting ready for swimsuit competition is no minor task, and I worked out two hours a day, six days a week--the thought of appearing in public, in front of strangers in a swimsuit small enough to fit an American Girl doll will highly motivate you. First an hour of weights and then an hour of cardio, every day of the week save for one glorious day off that always seemed so far away and to go by so very quickly. One day during my cardio session, Clint opened the door to the spare bedroom I use as my torture chamber gym and glimpsed me in all my pageant preparation glory: headband to keep the sweat from blinding me, sweatbands on each arm to keep it from dripping off my fingers, neoprene shorts (which are supposed to increase calorie expenditure), a heart rate monitor, and two sports bras. I'm pretty certain that is the recipe for glamour. I do not think it an understatement to say he was horrified, bemused and shocked to his core all at the same time.

He thought that was the ugly part; bless his heart, he was about to be proven so wrong. Compared to all the crazy things that we have seen and heard and done, that was a beautiful moment. Having done pageants in high school and college, I have seen contestants get competitive and not exactly be their kindest, gentlest, sweetest selves, and I've heard tales of sabotage and snarky behavior. Yeah, all that pales in comparison to the world of married women's pageants.

Some of these MRS (which I think actually stands for misinformation, rumors, and sniping) pageants are a Hollywood movie waiting to happen. A sort of cross between I Know What you Did Last Summer, Mean Girls, and Miss Congeniality. They say if you pull at a thread, the whole sweater will unravel. Well, when I stepped back and looked at this particular sweater, it looked a whole lot like a (bedazzled) straight jacket.

I have heard more salacious gossip than I could possibly retell. Examples include the rumor that one queen's husband visited strip clubs while attending the national pageant (in reality, he was walking down the sidewalk and a club promoter gave him a flyer), another beauty queen being widely (and unfairly) called an unfit mother, and even a contestant claiming she had a terminal illness and asking other contestants to withdraw from the competition so she could fulfill her bucket list wish of winning the crown (TRUE can't make this stuff up).

Gossip abounds that this woman is a prescription drug addict, that one is faking a chronic disease for the sake of attention, this one is seeing a psychiatrist because of all the mean things other Pageant Pattys have said about her, the list goes on and on...and on and on and on. You would think these grown, adult women with children, husbands and careers would tire of all this, but it absolutely never ends.

For my part, three contestants who were very friendly to my face secretly tried to have me disqualified. Afterward, one of them even spent an hour helping me steam the train of my evening gown, and although I didn't know at the time, I'm guessing she was hoping like heck I did not get the chance to wear it (I did, and placed first runner up, thank you very much, ladies).

That same contestant told the pageant's directors I threatened to beat up the newly crowned queen and snatch her tiara (I'm 5'4 and at the time was 108 pounds and also Mrs. Congeniality...a sinister threat in every way). And although I personally assured them that I was no threat and meant no one ill will or bodily harm, they continued to spread tales of my treachery. For over a year. I heard through the grapevine that additional security was posted at the door the next year in case I tried to cause any trouble with my attendance. Like I told a friend, I had no idea what a badass I was until I heard it from the rumor mill. Two years after I competed, a total stranger who also runs in pageant circles started the story that I was writing a book about how to win beauty pageants. Add author to my resume, right there under badass. I'm sure there are more rumblings, but I have put as much distance as possible from all this. I get enough drama during my daily episodes of Days of Our Lives to keep me satisfied.

You've probably watched Toddlers and Tiaras and thought that stage moms were the worst. But I can tell you from experience, it's moms on the stage who really take it to a whole new level of crazy. Thankfully, I made some great real friends through those experiences so we can compare notes on all the wild, wacky, and just plain bizarre things that we hear. And we've decided that the real winner in these kinds of pageants are the people smart enough to stay on the other side of the stage.


  1. Amen to this post! It needed to be said!

  2. Oh. My. Lord. I think you pretty much nailed it! This is classic...bahahaha!


Remember: brains and looks will only take you so far, but flattery will get you everywhere.