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Submitted on
March 21, 2013
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    Today, you are beautiful.

            Your parents tell you that you’re beautiful on every other day, too, but no one else ever does. The only time you matter to the world is at your shows. When you’re not beautiful, you’re nothing.

            Today, though, you are shining. At least, you think you are, but you’re not feeling great. Your stomach hurts, just like it does before every pageant. Your dress is brand new, and you haven’t gotten used to the way it itches yet. You’re sure your wig is gorgeous, even though the hairspray smells bad.

    Your teeth, though, are hurting the most. You know your flipper is a good one, but it doesn’t fit anymore.

                The other girls are all beautiful too, crammed here in this sticky space just offstage. You don’t recognize all of them, but you’ve seen a couple of them at your previous shows. The ones waiting right at the edge of the stage are the tail end of the six- and seven-year-old group; you’re a bit older than them. Behind you are the ten-to-twelve-year-olds. They’re wearing ball gowns that touch the floor, and they’re much more majestic than your puffy, frilly skirt. They’re all laughing and talking, some of them about the show, some about their lives. Their real lives, that is.

            Someone taps your shoulder. “Are you okay?” asks the impossibly thin child next to you. “You’re making a weird face.”

            “My flipper hurts,” you tell her.

            “Show me.”

            You put on your widest, sweetest grin. She inspects your dentures closely. “Looks fine,” she tells you. “Is it too small?”


            She pats your shoulder. “Well, good luck.”

            You thank her and wish her luck too. Then, you turn away and practice beaming at the wall. It hurts more when you smile than when you leave your face the way it is.

            You tried to tell Mom that the flipper doesn’t fit. She didn’t listen. She said there was nothing she could do until your next win, because she spent the last of your money on the new dress. “A good dress is more important than a good flipper,” Mom told you.


            One by one, the other contestants filter out onto the stage. The announcer says all their names in the same voice. She tells the audience a little bit about them – what their hobbies are, who their hero is, and it’s all the same. They melt together in your mind, twisting and merging into one entity: your competition. It’s odd to see them go from the sweet individuals they were backstage to these identical glowing competitors.

            Suddenly, you find yourself hovering at the very edge of the curtain. The announcer is calling your name, and before you realize what you’re doing, you’re striding out into the spotlight. You prance around for a bit, and strike a few poses, and most importantly, you always smile. Oh god, does it ever hurt. Your teeth feel like they’re going to pop out of your skull and rain down on the audience.

            Out in the crowd, you can see Mom. She’s waving and making a few gestures to instruct you. She keeps pointing at her mouth. You try to push your lips back more, but it’s too painful.

            “Brooke’s hobbies include dancing, singing, and gymnastics,” says the announcer. “When she grows up, she wants to be a doctor, and her heroes are her mom and dad!”

            And just like that, you’re done. You’re off the stage just as suddenly as you were on it. The spotlight is gone; the crowd’s attention is no longer on you. You’re relieved.

            You go to sit down beside Mom, but she doesn’t look happy. She reaches over and adjusts the capped sleeve of your dress, but she never looks right at you. You’re worried. Did you do something wrong? Is she mad at you?

            The announcer keeps talking. It seems every girl is a dancer or a singer or a gymnast, just like you. Every girl’s heroes are her parents and Oprah. They all have the same perfect curls and bright smiles that you wear – only their dresses are different colours. You try to listen, but Mom is scaring you. Your stomach hurts a lot more than it did before the pageant.


            When the show is finally over, she takes you out into the hall. It’s time for you to go and change for the award ceremony. You start for your hotel room, but she grabs your arm.

            “You lost a lot of points for your teeth,” she hisses in your face. Her breath smells like coffee and cigarettes. “What did I tell you about smiling?”

            “But Mom, I did smile,” you try and convince her. “I did. I told you, my flipper’s too small.”

            “You can suck it up for one show, Brooke. What were you thinking? Do you want to lose? Do you want me to be disappointed in you?”

            You’re not smiling anymore, but your fake teeth are still pushing your lips back. Tears well up in your eyes. “I‘m sorry, Mom. I tried,” you hiccup.

            “You didn’t. You did not try.”

            Saltwater splashes down the front of your dress, staining the lemon satin with green streaks. “I’m sorry,” you say again.

            She stands up and turns away. Her shoes click as they carry her away from you. You try to chase after her. She never slows down.

    You weren’t beautiful enough. You failed her.         


Well, this is a double feature. Backstory for someone new I plan on addng to TPS's rewrite, and my narrative essay due tomorrow. Um, to be honest, I have absolutely nothing else to say about this, except that second person is frickin' hard.

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Daily Deviation

Given 2013-04-06
Beautiful by ~Evil-Alien-Nicole is "second person done right" (suggester's words). ( Suggested by Rovanna and Featured by neurotype )
Cant-I-Be-Me Featured By Owner Apr 14, 2013  Hobbyist Artist
Being a pageant girl myself I cannot tell you how much this happens. Not only with mothers but also fathers (though most still stand to be the voice of reason in cases like this). This piece is really harsh and hurtful but it is also the truth about pageants. I am amazed at how well you captured the feelings in your piece.
Evil-Alien-Nicole Featured By Owner Apr 14, 2013  Student Writer
Thank you so much <3
I didn't know that was a thing that happened often though. It was kind of a lucky guess, I suppose. Anyhoo, my support goes out to any of your brethren suffering from this.
Cant-I-Be-Me Featured By Owner Apr 15, 2013  Hobbyist Artist
It actually is something that happens (at least in my circuit) quite often (not necessarily about flippers though). I know a girl named Bailey (not her real name but movingg on) who's mother won't talk to her if she doesn't at least get supreme or grand supreme(in my circuit that... is like the top of the top). My mom used to do that until I did the same to her... Which didn't work until I quit the system... like last year. -_- And even if indirectly the feeling never quite goes away and later gets transferred onto future children or little siblings due to low self esteem and self worth. Damn I'm not sure about that last statement. Ugh I give up.
Evil-Alien-Nicole Featured By Owner Apr 16, 2013  Student Writer
That's awful in ways I can't even describe :'c Like, whatthehell, that's a pretty poor parenting technique. I'm glad you managed to stand up to your mother and make that decision if it was hurting you, though. That's brave.
And I think I understood that statement fine, don't worry. c:
Cant-I-Be-Me Featured By Owner Apr 16, 2013  Hobbyist Artist
Whew, I was starting to worry myself and fearing for my sanity on the matter of whether or not I made any sense. :) And it is pretty bad huh? The parenting technique. But sometimes it just gets out of control and at one point it was just for fun or to raise self esteem. And I'm not brave. Nope. Nope. I'm just a coward who managed to find 40 seconds of anger to stand up to her mother.
Evil-Alien-Nicole Featured By Owner Apr 16, 2013  Student Writer
Ha, it's okay. I don't make any sense myself, so I have practice in deciphering messages.
But I can really see it as something just like you said, something that starts as a fun thing and then takes a bad turn. I think it's an occupation people need to be careful in, because it's easy to slip into the over-competitive type, especially for the parents D:
And 40 seconds is still better than zero. You're less a coward than I am. c:
Cant-I-Be-Me Featured By Owner Apr 16, 2013  Hobbyist Artist
Well you seem to make plenty sense to me :)
The most addicting things almost always start as fun don't they? Writing, drawing, math (not really math but you know...), Music, singing, or dancing. And then doing these things repetitively becomes tiring and doing some of them (such as dancing/singing/gymnastics) become deadly and most lock people into a state where all they seem to do is that one/two things. And not only do parents slip into this competitive mode. The contestants do to. Because they are the ones being subjected to this first hand. So not only does it affect the parents but it turns the children into these people who conform into anything and everything while also making their mindsets into those who think they are the best thing since sliced bread.
And I suppose those 40 seconds is better than zero. But I highly doubt you're a coward.
Evil-Alien-Nicole Featured By Owner Apr 18, 2013  Student Writer
I fully agree. An old friend of mine is that way with modelling. She's literally incapable of talking about anything else anymore.
I think it's just a difficult thing for everyone and that kind of competition - based on physical (conventional) attractiveness because Ester Dean is gorgeous holy sheet - is just kind of guaranteed to have unfavourable results. glanced up at your comment to say more but I somehow had a temporary dyslexic moment and read "...and everything while also making their mindsets into bread." :U
Pfft, you'd be surprised :D
(1 Reply)
Karinta Featured By Owner Apr 14, 2013  Student General Artist
Holy shit. I've never really read anything like this. :D
Evil-Alien-Nicole Featured By Owner Apr 14, 2013  Student Writer
WELP, now you have. Thanksyouc:<4
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