Sunday, July 7, 2013

Pageant followup

First of all, when researching pageant culture, I happened upon this tidbit about a pageant for disabled girls, which takes place in Kewanee, IL, where my college roommate and friend across the hall hail from (shoutout to Karen Peart and Kay Blachinsky wherever you are! Couldn't find you on Facebook).

What led me there was this interesting take on the pageants we so love to hate. I'd also like to offer a theory about the advent of the pageant scene, and the demographic that seems to populate it. I'll start out with a little bio of my own mom, Zelda Luke Reiz. Mom grew up in a low-income family, so she was eligible for free dance lessons at Swope Settlement in Kansas City. She and her sister were nurtured there by the director, a wonderful woman named Esther Lane, who took them under her wing and became their patron, so to speak. The sister act ended up performing in nightclubs across the Midwest, which earned them their college tuition. But the road, which began at age five, was grueling. Daily rehearsals in addition to schoolwork; and their mother, an expert seamstress, sewed all their costumes. Fast forward to 2013, and let's compare to low-income families today who want to give their daughters a push, but lack the resources that wealthier families have:

  1. Nowadays you don't need costly lessons and other extracurriculars that the pageant demographic often can't afford. Anyone can turn on YouTube, copy a bunch of (more-often-than-not sexy) moves and work up a routine, have a friend or relative make a glitzy costume, and as long as you have the wherewithal to get there, your kid can enter...
  2. ...and possibly earn cash, which I theorize is this demographic's way of thumbing its nose at the resource-heavy folks who can ultimately launch their kids (ordinarily meaning send them to college, which is increasingly out of reach, even for the middle class). By entering their daughters in pageants, this demographic might be saying, "We'll just teach our daughters to get by on their smiles" (i.e., looks, ability to exude implied sexual availability), a shortcut, if you will, to launching them for those who don't have the resources to fund an "upper-class" track.
What do others think? I welcome your thoughts.

1 comment:

  1. I have never understood, and will never understand, these juvenile and younger beauty pageants. I don't understand how parents -- nearly always mothers -- would subject their kids to this. The only type of person I believe who is attracted to these things and would pay money to see them is a pedophile. That sounds harsh but, really, would any normal person go out of their way to watch these things? So keep up the good fight!