by Beth Boswell Jacks
In spite of the fact that I had two of the best looking legs in the whole high school (circa 1960), I was never a beauty queen.
There was a real problem from the waist up. The difficulty started in the chest area and continued to the tip of my head. I wasnít charm-less, but letís just say there were a few obstacles to overcome before I could walk across a stage and be crowned Miss Anything.
To compound matters, this . . . umm . . . mattered. I truly wanted with all my heart to be a beauty queen. As a matter of fact, some of my best friends were beauty queens. They had the tiaras and sashes hanging on their pink walls to prove it. I had piano certificates, which carried nowhere near the same importance.
I remember lounging on the floor at Margaret and Dean Pearmanís house in the summer of 1960, eating pineapple sherbet and watching Lynda Lee Meade crown Mary Ann Mobley as the next ďMiss America.Ē Or was it the other way around?
Anyway, Mary Ann and Lynda Lee cried for joy while I cried with the ragged anguish only a teenager can feel. The grownups thought I was weeping with excitement for our two Mississippi winners, when actually I was wishing the beauty queens had my bumps on their rosy cheeks and I had their scepters.
It never worked out that way, but over the years I came to realize that they had probably had their share of bumps too. And tears. So allís well that ends well. I guess.
Why am I wading through all this? Because Iíve just read something that makes me think my beauty queen chances may not have completely slipped away.
The Mississippi coast recently hosted a big pageant (well, not that big--only 2 contestants this year, but itís sure to grow) where ďmatureĒ women vied to be crowned Ms. Mississippi Senior.
Hey, thatís not all. The winner gets to go on to the national pageant in Reno sometime in November. How Ďbout that?
This yearís winner, a 79 year old cutie, performed an original comedy sketch, edging out the other contestant who danced and twirled her straw hat to a lively Cajun tune. Lord knows, the judges must have had to wrestle with that decision.
Fact is, this isnít the only senior pageant in this good olí USA, where no less than 700,000 beauty fests for all ages take place annually. Weíve got everything from Little Miss Rural Electrification to Miss Scratch Ankle. Makes your heart race, doesnít it?
Three to four million women compete for crowns and scholarships every year. Thatís a lot of pulchritude (hopefully), and, all jokes aside for the moment, Iím not sure how I feel about such an emphasis on physical attributes.
Watching and cheering our favorite beauties on TV is a lot different from sitting near the runway in the auditorium. One judge was quoted as saying TV brushes up imperfections pretty well; however, sitting up close and personal there in the auditorium affords a not-so-satisfying view of warts and cellulite when the parading starts. Something about that strikes me as perverse.
But I donít know. If a girl looks darn good and wants to cash in on her assets, she has a right to go for the gold. Get that money and go to school, honey.
But as your next Ms. Mississippi Senior, maybe, I can tell you I will give the scholarship money to charity or get the pageant people to build me a hot tub. Iím too old to go back to school. The sponsors can forget that. No long-term goals for me.
As one contestant in the 1993 Ms. Senior Palm Beach County pageant told the master of ceremonies when he asked her about her life goals: ďHoney,Ē she said, ďI donít even buy green bananas.Ē
Well, thatís all Iíve got to say about that. Got to go hunt up my white chiffon gown.
Editor of USADEEPSOUTH.COM and author of 3 books (including Grit, Guts, and Baseball: The stories of Coach Sank Powe), Jacks writes a weekly newspaper column for a number of Deep South papers. Over 125 of those columns are in her two SNIPPETS books pictured below.
Read about Beth's SNIPPETS books -- two collections of her columns.
Here's where readers may go to find more of Beth's articles at USADS:
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