Your Pageant diaries is a fictional account of vignettes written by two soul sisters who found each other in the pageant industry. Our stories, triumphs, challenges, and voices are dedicated to all Women and Men.
Strobe lights beamed down on Brittany’s balayage-streaked flaxen hair. She held her breath as the emcee strutted across the stage with the characteristic swagger of a post-forty year old newly divorced single man. Asher flashed his best pearly whites at the audience, his slick hair parted to the left side and held together with 2 layers of Living Proof styling cream (the whole cranial ensemble resembled that of a magician on Las Vegas opening night).
Please let it be me. Brittany whispered to herself as her beaded nude-and floral mermaid gown dug ever deeper into her ribcage.
“Our first Delegate is number 15. The delightful Miss Brittany Reyes.”
The crowd roared. Brittany beamed her sweetest onstage smile as she sashayed expertly on five-inch stilettos to take her spot at the front of the stage. The remaining 25 contestants shuffled their weight nervously from side to side. From the distance, they looked squirmish in their sky-high Chinese Laundry heels and too-tight Jovani gowns. Each one was thinking the same thing. Damn that Brittany always getting first. Now I have to stand longer in these heels!
“Next we have Delegate number 2. Please welcome her to the top 5!”
Olivia Ramirez giddily clapped her french-manicured fingers over her mouth. Screw all you skinny Insta-girls. Future doctor coming through beeeetchs. The crowd clapped softly, though Delegate 2 was enjoying the sound of her name too much to notice the anemic response from the audience.
“Drumroll please. Monica can you read the name of this lovely Delegate next?”
“Our third finalist for the 2019 Miss Silicon Valley Pageant is…”
The crowd held its breath in unison, like a single organism. Every family and waving banner wished the girl was their own – their own daughter, bestie, sister or girlfriend.
“Delegate number 12! Miss Jacqueline Lee.” – Monica announced.
Surprise mingled with disbelief flashed across Jacqueline’s perfectly sculpted aquiline features. Her delicate cheekbones flushed redder than the Dior blush adorning her porcelain skin.
“GO, GO! It’s you Jacqueline!” Sisters left and right of her urged. Though disappointment was evident in their foundation-caked faces, their voices were trained months ahead to prepare for this very moment to mire inner disappointment with unnatural uppidity-ness.
Jacqueline glided effortlessly to take her spot as the third finalist center stage.
“Ladies and gentlemen, we have only 2 more names left. Are you excited to see who the next two finalists are?” – Monica teased the crowd.
“I can’t hear you. Can we get a last round of applause for all these beautiful and hard-working ladies tonight?” The crowd cheered, whistled and clapped in response.
“Our fourth finalist is….. Contestant 13. Melanie Zhang.”
The crowd burst with cheers. In the left Orchestra section a small group of enthusiasts jumped up as the sound of party poppers and bell whistles joined the echoes of “Yes girl!” and “Go Melanie!” across the auditorium.
Delighted with the response, though not entirely surprised at this outcome, Melanie swayed in her sexiest side-to-side catwalk across the stage to take her rightful spot in the finalist queue.
Monica handed the last index card to Asher as the ladder subconsciously touched his combover again.
“Now the second best moment you had been waiting for. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Delegate number 9.”
The crowd murmured in confusion. Some people in the front row had knitted their brows, as if the name did not conjure up anything familiar.
Zoey Green slid into the queue of perfectly T-stanced, bikini-waxed, and made-up ladies. The last lingering claps of the crowd came to a deafening silence. The remaining delegates’ plastered barbie smiles were starting to quiver, and even the trick of clenching their teeth didn’t stop exhaustion from creeping in. Almost done! Can’t wait to go home and find an altar for my new crown, Brittany thought to herself.
Monica and Asher turned to the ladies with a fresh stack of 3 by 5 flash cards, and the real fun began. Monica approached the Brittany and handed her the microphone.
This stage is my playground. These pageant newbies ain’t got nothing on me. Brittany psyched herself up before the first question.
“Delegate number 15, do you believe that the #MeToo movement empowers women or was a misuse of social media?” – Monica recited from the flashcard.
“Well the #MeToo movement was really monumental for the rights of women and provided an avenue for abused victims to voice their stories. I believe it was an incredible display of human courage to share one’s personal stories and that it ultimately empowered women.” – Brittany completed the last sentence with a flash of her sweetest pin-up girl smile.
The audience murmured in approval. That’s right ladies. Good luck because they might as well skip the rest and just hand me the crown now. Asher nodded in enthusiastic approval, like a puppy wagging its tail for canned food.
“Delegate number 2, do you think pageants are still relevant in today’s society?”
“Pageant are an amazing playground for women’s confidence.” Olivia blurted out.
Audiences responded with deafening silence and puzzled frowns. Shit, that sounded way better in my head.
“Um, so pageants are a wonderful place of exercise for women to exercise… I mean for women to display … no exemplify their beauty.” Shit shit shit. Can we have a redo?
“Pageants are very helpful for today’s young women as they are a wonderful platform to learn about confidence and …. um gain new friendships!” Olivia unloaded those last words.
Somewhere in the A2 row of the Judges’ Section a woman scratched furiously into her notepad, as several others in the audience cautiously clapped. Asher glided to the next contestant and presented her with the dwindling deck of questions.
“Delegate 12, which historical figure would you have dinner with?”
Jacqueline took a deep breath. “Thank you for the question. I would have dinner with Amelia Earhart. She was an exemplary figure for young women, because her life was full of adventure and courage. She was not only accomplished in the aviation world, but also as a public speaker and empowerment figure for following your dreams. I’d love to hear her perspectives on the #MeToo movement and issues facing young women today at our dinner. Thank you.”
The crowd froze for 3 seconds before bursting into applause. A few whistles and “marry me Jacqueline” proposals were echoed from the box seats.
The rest of the contestants onstage shifted uneasily in their Chinese Laundry tippy teaser heels. Not from the pain of chafing, but from the insecurity that struck everyone’s heart at that moment. Damn Jacqueline keeping it under wraps until now. That sly fox.
“Well said, Jacqueline. Well said indeed.” Asher said.
“Next, we have Delegate number 13. What is the role of men in modern feminism?”
“Men are a critical part of the modern feminism movement, because without collaboration and allies, our message will reach a plateau in its impact. Men and women should be equal partners to create a more egalitarian society together. Thank you.”
The crowd went wild with cheers. Whistles, “marry me Melanie!” public proposals, and a few standing ovations popped out left and right among the sea of (previously bored) stares.
“Beautifully stated, Delegate 13. Men, take notes.” Monica winked at the crowd.
“Delegate 9,” Monica interrogated, “Why should you be Miss Silicon Valley?”
Zoey stood stunned like a deer caught in headlights for 2.4 seconds before snapping back into reality and turning on her fake clenched-teeth smile.
“Thank you for the question. I should be Miss World, I mean Miss Silicon Valley because I graduated from Stanford and work full-time at the Stanford Psychiatric hospital…” The crowd murmured in confusion. Wait why aren’t they impressed? Ok I guess there’s too many Berkeley families in the crowd. Enact plan B.
“I love to bring my passion for mental health awareness to the Miss Silicon Valley community. As future Queen, I will continue to campaign for empowerment and awareness for young women in this area. The first thing I would do as the new Queen is initiate a scholarship fund for political refugees to gain access to higher education and mental health resources. Thank you!” Zoey gritted her last smile with much effort.
Asher and Monica quizzically looked at each other, as if telepathically beaming the same thoughts to each other. That was embarrassing. I hope she still places.
“Alright ladies and gentlemen there you have it! The beautiful, intelligent and talented delegates of the 2019 Miss Silicon Valley class. Let’s give them another round of applause for their hard work!”
Tired claps rang throughout the auditorium. At this point half the audience has to pee, while the other half wants to go home and watch reruns of Lord of the Rings. As if hearing the audiences’ thoughts, Andrew the stage crew director played the recording of drumrolls from behind his staging area in the curtains. Escorts and flower girls scurried to line up backstage, their arms loaded with basketfuls of bouquets, metals and plastic crowns.
“The moment we have all been waiting for, third princess we have ….” Asher announced as his sausage-like fingers fumbled with the envelope. “Delegate number 2! Congratulations!”
WHAT. THE. FUCK. Olivia fumed as she nearly tripped onstage on the path to greet her Escort and accept the bouquet. The corners of her eyes twitched, threatening to start raining disappointment at any moment.
“Next, please welcome ….. can we get some more love?” Asher urged the crowd.
“Please welcome Delegate 12 as our Miss Silicon Valley second princess.”
Jacqueline floated like a swan across stage, sorority squatted with her hands folded neatly in her lap as the flower girl perched the tiara on her French-braided bun.
“And for our first princess, who will win a combined package of $1000 in scholarship prize and a beauty retreat package from Glossier, please give it up for the lovely Delegate 15.”
Brittany arched her perfectly microbladed brows.
“Go, Brittany, it’s your turn!” Delegate 2 and 13 congratulated her. Reluctantly, Brittany willed her heavy feet toward center stage as a flower girl flashed a smile giddily at the camera and placed a medium-sized crown with sad-looking (plastic) Swarovski crystals on the quickly deflating ombré mane.
“Next, we have Miss Silicon Valley first runner up. She will win a $2500 scholarship package with a complimentary photo-shoot with ChickTECH SF, a nonprofit organization to increase STEM education for young women.”
By this time, Melanie and Zoey were holding hands onstage, facing each other and reciting from memory the “good lucks, it’s gonna be you” phrased they practice a thousand times in front of the bathroom mirror.
“Delegate number 9!”
Zoey let go of her breath that she’s been holding ever since the Stanford humble brag debacle. Thank you thank you thank you! Stanford I will erect a shrine for you, consisting of Swarovski crystal shrimp dispensers and incense for helping me win this title. Zoey waved and cried hot tears of real gratitude as the flower girl placed the crown (with a band!) on top of her hot-ironed hair.
“Please welcome your new Miss Silicon Valley, Miss Melanie Zhang. With her crown, Miss Lee will also receive a $10,000 scholarship prize with a front cover on Silicon Valley magazine and an interview with Channel 9 KQTV.” Asher yelled.
“So begins the reign of the Queen and her Court.” Monica added.
Wait, there’s a Court? I thought only Queens continued. Melanie eyed the girls in queue behind her as the ending theme song blared and confetti showered down.
STAY TUNED FOR OUR DEBUT NOVEL, COMING SOON!