It is a funny turn of events in my life that I now seem to be developing a habit of sponsoring girls endeavoring to compete in beauty pageants. - There is a deep irony here that has me pondering the nature of this and that and how my opinions and views on the topic came to be both what they were and now are.
When I was a little girl, my favorite books were those written by L. Frank Baum - the most famous of which is the Wizard of Oz. I wanted to climb in and live as a character in those books; they had everything a little girl could want - princesses, queens, oodles of jewels and beautiful gowns, magic wands, animals and a the right amount of danger and adventure. I envied Polychrome her ability to travel around in the rays of the rainbow wearing gowns made of moonbeams or sunbeams and diamond slippers on her feet. (Actually, I still do!) I think most people would agree that that is pretty girly stuff.
Fast forward 10 or 12 years and we find me newly enrolled at the University of California at Santa Cruz - that's right! that bastion of left wing lesbian/feminist militant thought and school of choice for upper-middle-class white kids who don't get into Berkeley.
Now I was aware of none of this as my parents drove me up the long entrance road to the campus in our station wagon which was packed full to the brim with all my worldly possessions. I recall being very concerned that there were so many trees and steep hills and that it seemed like one could easily fall off of this place or get lost.
The full force of Santa Cruz wouldn't hit me though until about three or four weeks later when my proctor roommate and I decided to organize a dance and we came up with the theme of "Pimp and Hooker". Seemed just dandy to me, what better of a mix for getting to know one's fellow students than lots of alcohol, scantily clad females and men without morals? (for an evening - and just for pretend) And as for being too risque - I recall telling my roommate that the fanciest country club in Santa Barbara had one of those every year for Halloween. Nope we were on solid ground socially. Except that I had absolutely no idea where I really was.
On the night of our dance we headed up to the cafeteria which had been transformed into our hall of lechery during the day and as we approached I could not quite understand what I was seeing. All the pimps and hookers were standing outside looking not at all happy, and not dancing either. Then I saw the reason why! There were hordes of frumpily dressed, rather unattractive females in Birkenstocks and no make-up! lying flat on their backs all over our dance floor. They wouldn't move and we weren't allowed to step on them so the dance was pretty much over before it started. In retrospect, it probably didn't help our cause much that it happened to be the very first National Women's Week and that they paid attention to such things there in Santa Cruz. Who Knew?
I spent the next hour or so on the phone with my mother screaming that I wanted to come home. And how could she send me to a place full of lesbians and feminists - I was, up until that point in my life, unaware of the existence of either.
I didn't go home though, and I came to really love Santa Cruz - even the trees.
Now I'm no dummy and I wasn't then either and it didn't take me long to figure out that my "girly-airhead-valley-girl" persona, that would open doors in Southern California, wasn't going to fly at UCSC. So I adapted, and I guess some of Santa Cruz had sunk in because by the time I graduated and had my first job in the City, I was writing checks to organizations like NOW and Planned Parenthood etc. Yup, I had learned that women were perpetual victims of white male oppression and the best and only cure for this was to become just like them.
So I bought a business suit at Ann Taylor with shoulder pads in it that made me look not unlike a football player.
Yes, they had convinced me that anything girly is bad and is simply a way for men to objectify women and keep them down and that includes beauty pageants and I never wanted to be a fairy princess when I was a little girl because that would mean I wasn't strong and all women must now be strong.
And that's what I've been pondering these days as I paypal off my little sponsorships to these girls who really, really want to compete in beauty pageants. I think that is fantastic! And I hope they never let anyone tell them otherwise.