“Go on down, they’re dying to meet you,” she said when introducing her benefactors, and the crowd laughed at this, our first inside glimpse of a standout girl in a beauty pageant I helped judge this weekend (how could I not accept the invitation to step into such an alien role?).
She wasn’t traditionally pretty. Aside from the dye-job, her skin was pale, her mouth full of silver, her hair rough cut into a short style. She was slim and moved across the stage with her nerves on display, her smile slight and her eyes pinning us, saying, “Don’t you dare laugh at me.” Fearful and proud, frail and strong; she wore these banners across her chest as well. She was intriguing because she was such a contradiction up there on the stage.
Three of us were asked, in the first round, to judge twenty-five girls based solely on beauty and poise, to narrow the field down to five. There were girls with handicaps who struggled to move and speak cleanly, girls who were overweight and those with mouths full of braces. What was beauty, anyway? A girl genetically blessed with an oval-shaped face, big bright eyes, Jolie lips and Monroe curves? And then, despite the fact that we weren’t supposed to judge on anything “other,” we listened to each girl deliver a memorized essay. [Read more…]