My daughter Marin came home from school with a pretty pink flyer and announced that she was going to enter the Petite Miss Loganville Pageant. This is not to be confused with the Wee Miss Loganville, Tiny Miss Loganville, Little Miss Loganville, or Young Miss Loganville Pageants. This comes from a girl who insists that her unbrushed hair is a style – surfer girl – and not merely a lack of personal hygiene.
I looked at the flyer, and see that the registration fees are $65.00, plus an optional $10.00 for “Photogenic”, whatever that means in pageant terms. Professional photo packages are also available. There is an informational meeting, and four days of registration. This is a Big Deal. All the profits go to the Loganville High School PTSO Scholarship Fund, which is inarguably a great place for the profits to go. Anything that promotes higher education is okey dokey by me.
But let’s think about this for a little bit. $65.00 registration fee? I could take my whole family out for a steak dinner for that. Marin immediately looked in her closet, and decided that none of her current clothes would do, she needed a dress that was 'puffy at the bottom'. I know what she is talking about, and I know they don’t come cheap. I won’t spend $200.00 on a suit for me that I will wear two or three times a month for five years. I’m certainly not going to spend that on a one-time-wear dress for an 8 year old. And don’t let’s start talking about shoes, and hair and – gasp – nails. I know I shouldn’t use Toddlers and Tiaras as a barometer for anything but the downfall of civilization, but is she going to have to wear makeup? Choreograph a dance to Madonna’s “Like a Virgin”? My maternal heart rears in horror.
I know enough about other people’s finances, having combed through the details while handling the divorces of a large cross-section of our community, to know that I have more disposable income than the average bear. I’m not rich, as is evidenced by the fact that our ‘nice’ car is a three year old Honda we are still paying off, which has a crushed in side view mirror, a dent in the rear where my husband backed into a basketball goal when the car was a month old, and is ankle deep in Happy Meal toys. Our other car is a twelve year old minivan, the back hatch of which can only be opened with a screwdriver. But I digress. As I was saying, I have disposable income. And there is no way on Earth I can afford (or, more honestly am willing to afford) upwards of $300.00 for one day of fun for an 8 year old. $300.00 would take the whole family to Six Flags, with unlimited $8.00 Cokes and $6.00 hot dogs. Or, not for nothing, feed a needy family for a month.
So what’s a modern Mom to do? On the one hand, I don’t want my daughter to think that whether she wins or loses is based on what she looks like or how pretty her dress is, rather than how she thinks. I don’t want her to think that she looks prettier with makeup on. I do want her to have fun. As many philosophical issues as I might have with the whole pageant thing in general, I absolutely get why flouncing around all dolled up while people applaud is fun, and I am not going to deny my child fun based on philosophy. And how much of that deep stuff would she get, anyway, as opposed to thinking the whole thing is a dress up party on steroids? When I was her age, Charlie’s Angels was one of my all time favorite shows, and my friends and I used to run around the yard chasing kidnappers, who were always named “Ron and Don”. I was always Sabrina, because I thought she was the smart one, and like her I had dark brown hair cut like Dorothy Hamil. The fact that the actual Angels were running in four inch stilettos and short shorts and showing cleavage you could lose your keys in was lost on me. All I saw was women chasing bad guys.
You figure this one out, you let me know.