Thursday, October 6, 2011

I’m annoyed.

Let me just start off by saying that I am an all or nothing kind of girl. I really believe that if you believe in something, it should be all encompassing. You know, CONSISTENCY. Maybe it’s because I’m a fairly logical person, maybe it’s because I believe that some things SHOULD be black and white. I don’t know the reason behind it; I only know that when people start making decisions that are not consistent across the board, I get annoyed.

As you, my faithful, long time readers know, my daughter, Lyliana is a pageant diva. Yes…she does pageants. She has done them since she was 4. No, I did not want her to do them…and I know that there are those of you out there who are going to roll your eyes and say “Sure…whatever lady. I know that all of you pageant moms actually live vicariously through your kids so that your fat ass can feel pretty and superior.” Well, I’m here to tell you that you’re wrong, we are not all like what Toddlers and Tiaras portrays us to be. In fact I have never, in my 7 years of being dragged to pageants, seen or heard a woman that sounded like any of those mothers. I have, however, been to baseball games where I’ve seen parents berate their children for not paying attention, or missing a ball….I’ve also seen soccer moms freak out because their precious baby was sat on the bench and not allowed to play. So…why isn’t there a show called “soccer mom” or “Little League Dad”? Well…probably because being sporty in America is an OK thing to be, as is being an academic. Hey…those are two of the things my daughter is NOT. She took dance, and gymnastics, which she liked…but she got bored with them, and she certainly wasn’t a child prodigy in either sport. You know what she DOES excel at? Getting up on stage, and modeling an outfit. Yup. She excels at pageantry.

When I say I didn’t want her to be in pageants, I really mean it. When she saw the poster advertising an upcoming pageant at our local mall and asked me what it said, I almost lied and told her it was an advertisement for a princess doll or some such thing…but I figured she wouldn’t be interested at all because she was SOOOO shy. Yes…shy. So I read it to her..and she lit up and asked “can I be in it, Mommy..PLEASE?!?!?” and I said…..”No”. and left it at that. I figured, with her being 4, she would forget and life would go on..because I really did NOT want to be one of “those” women who put their little girls in pageants. See? I had fallen for the post Jon-Benet propaganda as well. I thought that dressing your little girl up and parading her up on stage was wrong! Who would do that to their kid?!? Turns out “I” would. Not of my own volition though. My daughter, my sweet, shy little 4 year old would NOT let it go…every day, at least twice she would beg for me to let her do the pageant. This went on for at least 2 weeks. Yes…2 WEEKS…that is an eternity for a 4 year old with the attention span of a squirrel on caffeine. So, I caved. I ordered a $25 flower girl dress off of EBay and entered her in the pageant. Do you want to know why? Because I thought she would fail. Yes, I did. I really thought that, like me, she would get horrific stage fright and cry and refuse to get on stage. The idea of getting up in front of people and being the center of attention to me is about the same as getting bamboo shoved under my fingernails. It really shames me to think that I let the social media mold my opinion so much that I would WISH failure on my child because I had been led to believe that child pageantry is WRONG. It was an eye opening revelation.

When we got to the mall and she was clinging to me with her little arms because there were SO many people there…I felt a little smug. My plan was going to work and we could be done with all this ridiculous pageant business. When they called for her age group up on stage, I whispered in her ear “I’m proud of you whether you get up there or not…if you don’t feel comfortable doing this, you don’t have to.”. She looked at me with her big hazel eyes and said “put me down’. She proceeded to march up there, smile at every judge and in the end walk away with EVERY SINGLE AWARD in her category. I knew at that point I had to change my view of pageantry, because that little girl was instantly HOOKED.

We attended about 2 pageants per year after that. She swept up the awards at those pageants too…and you know what? She really enjoyed it. I have never seen her as full of purpose and excitement as when she’s prepping to get on stage…and when she’s up’s amazing. She lights up, you can tell how much she really loves it. All of the parents I have met there are decent people who are kind and are trying to support their children in their interests….I’ve never seen anyone berate their daughter because she “messed up” a routine, I’ve only heard “I’m so proud of you…you did GREAT” when kids are coming off the stage. Mother’s are nice and talkative and not catty. Which makes me wonder where in the hell they find these people on TV?!!? I’m sure much of it is creative editing, and I have to wonder if they realize what they’re doing to the pageant world by portraying pageants in this light. When did it become such a horrible thing for a little girl to feel pretty? I have to tell you, that while facial beauty is judged, a LOT of that is based on the child’s charisma and her own self esteem. Poise is a HUGE part of a pageant. HUGE.

Being able to get up on stage in front of people is an important part of life. Whether you learn that accepting an award for soccer or giving a speech in debate club or getting up on stage at a pageant it doesn’t matter, it’s a skill that you should have…lest you end up like me; scared and insecure in crowds. And really, if little girls enjoy the pageant world, then LET them…and don’t’ judge the parents of these girls because you saw Toddlers and Tiara’s and now ALL pageant moms are evil…that is just WRONG and IGNORANT. And if you feel you MUST judge, I ask that you be consistent and be just as judgmental of soccer moms and little league dads and parents who push their kids in whatever field they happen to be talented in…or whatever field the parent is living vicariously through their child in…because there are plenty who do. I’m tired of having to explain WHY people think its’ wrong and why she shouldn’t’ feel bad because she enjoys it.


TeresaR said...

Great post, Stace! It's been such a great booster to her confidence and self-esteem, how can it be "wrong"? Kudos to her for knowing what she wants and wants to do and doing it! Not very many people can say that about themselves, which is why they're such miserable people.

Baggywrinkle Mamma said...

I can understand why you feel angry here....and you make the point very well comparing to football (soccer?!) and other sports. Why should this interest be any different? Is there perhaps a teeny weeny element of sexism creeping in here? It's a girly thing and therefore of less value? Who knows. Prior to seeing Toddlers and Tiaras which does, let's face it, show some pretty unpleasant character traits, I think if I thought about pageantry at all, it was in a kind of passing 'don't make kids grow up too quickly' kind of way, which in actual fact, was changed by the show. What I actually saw was little girls being just that, little girls! Most little girls LOVE to dress up and really, this is what this is. It seems for some it's ok to put kids on stage for drama or anything else, but not for parading about and feeling lovely? Why on earth not?! The other thing that changed my view was that I spent years (literally) going to football training and matches with No.1 son, rugby and golf with No.2 son and with No.1 daughter (a total tomboy then) her all-girl football team games. Then along came No.2 daughter...a diva, she wants sparkles and pink and fluffy and glitz and she wants to parade about the place and feel LOVELY! And why the hell not? I am sure if we had the pageantry thing in the UK (not sure that we do), then she would be hassling me to take her, as soon as she understood what it was about. I am a bit of a tomboy myself, so not my thing, but would love to see her doing HER thing. And that is the point, it's about supporting our kids, when, like you, it's not your thing, but theirs....and I bloody well hate football!

Gayle said...

I agree, when did being beautiful, wearing a gown with elegance, looking hot in a swimsuit, showcasing a talent all become sexist and evil? All this political correctness really irks me. I think it is awesome that your daughter has found some she enjoys. Very important for each one of us to find something to be passionate about. And, yes, soccer mom's (baseball, football, etc.) suck. I know. I'm one of them. :)

Zev said...

We're pregnant with our first, and even though I'm sure it's much too early to worry about it, I'm slightly terrified that we're going to end up with a very girly girl. Pageants I don't think I could handle at all. Glad you're able to support her in her interests.

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Svenja said...

Dear Stacey, I have found your blog rather coincidentally, and those sheep pictures have made me stay. First of all, I find you are excellent in creative writing, truly entertaining - I am glad that I have found your blog! Also the picture of the cows in the snow (low cows, they have such lovely eyes..) is really awesome!
Second, the article you wrote about your girl participating on pageants is really great: Over here in the Netherlands we also have international TV channels, and when zapping through this Tiara & Troddler show was on. Yes, I stayed for a while. And I have to admit that this kind of behavior is sometimes seen over here as a little bit "typically American". I know that I am stereotyping here, but an article like yours is really precious in my opinion! Me, personally, am an incredibly bad public speaker. The experience your girl gets now will prepare her for adult life perfectly well! I am already shaking if I have to think about holding a speech on my best friend's wedding - which is not even announced yet - haha!
Regards from the Netherlands,
from Svenja @ happybluebird