Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Makeup, tiaras, and self-doubt (plus a picture of long toenails)

Once upon a time, I considered entering my daughter in pageants. (Yes, I know. This was before I googled Honey Boo Boo.) I was painfully shy as a child, and lacked even basic social skills. If someone dared to say hi to me I'd stare blankly at them before running away screaming. Maybe that was why I didn't have very many friends...

I didn't want that for my daughter, and I thought that maybe pageants would be a good way to build her self-confidence.  I went as far looking into a few local events. For those who know me in real life, that is the antithesis of who I am. But for my daughter I thought I might be able to keep the gagging to myself, and encourage her to be the social butterfly I never was.
Because this a not-scary-at-all picture of well-adjusted little girl. (Photo courtesy of

Around this same time, I fell into a few "modeling" jobs; since I always pictured myself as the awkward girl that everyone laughed at, this surprised me. But yes, it did a lot for my self-esteem. I was picked for a brochure shoot for Jayco RVs, and I made really good money. Then I wasn't picked for a skiing shoot, and a whole new level of self-doubt crept in. "What is wrong with me? Why didn't they want me? Am I too fat? Are my teeth too yellow? It's my nose, isn't it? I know it's my nose. And my horrible teeth." And so I spend $75 on a teeth whitening kit, and stop eating Oreos in bulk.

Yeah, I'm kind of famous.
I also had another job as a promo model. Pretty glamorous, really. I stood around liquor stores, in shoes that made my feet whimper in pain, smiling, flirting and hand selling (that's not as obscene as it sounds) the product. Then one day a store employee came up to me and said "A bunch of the  guys and I voted, and we decided that even though you're the oldest, you're the hottest." And while I think it was meant as a compliment, I didn't like the idea of being "voted" on in a liquor store stockroom. Then I focused on the old part. "Oh God. I am old. I am too old. What am I doing, who do I think I am? I have gray hair, don't I? I am horrible looking. How can people even stand to look at me and my wrinkled, hideous face?" And I realized that I didn't want my daughter to ever feel that kind of self- hatred. If she fails, I want it to be because she didn't try hard enough, not because someone didn't like her face, or her hair, or her big toe.
Unless it looks like this. Then she's fair game.

So I quit. It was doing more harm than good. I'd leave each job feeling more insecure than I felt when I went in. I debated it for is good. Especially when my hourly pay was triple anything I'd ever made at any other job. But the stress and anxiety and doubt wasn't worth it. And what would a pageant do? Expose a child to the same kind of anxiety and self-doubt. Those little girls can put on a good front, but inside, every time they don't win, they're doing an internal inventory on every tiny thing they think could be wrong with them. That's not healthy.

My daughter will never be in a pageant. It doesn't matter if she's not a social butterfly. Or class president. And so what if she dresses like Punky Brewster? She's awesome.

1 comment:

Brian Miller said...

its def a brutal business that preys on the self esteem...i dated a beauty queen once....oy...after shows, was not good...


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