I’m watching my DVR’d version of the Miss USA Pageant alternately thinking the girls would love this and wondering if I know how to explain it to them. I mean, really, The Biggest Loser already has my 5 year-old asking how many calories are in a Rice Krispie Treat. Do I need her comparing herself to what I’m seeing on that stage?
My sisters and I have already discussed the fact that despite my mother’s feminist oversight, we all played with Barbies (loved playing Barbies – would spend hours of our childhood divvying up the Barbies in an NFL draft-like fashion) and have made it to adulthood without an eating disorder or body image problem. And this pageant (or the other one, what is it, Miss America?) is a highlighted memory in my childhood. We got to stay up late, eat snacks, and hope our favorite made it into the top ten. Oh, the joy of that!
Watching alone tonight I had all the misgivings a mother of gorgeous daughters should have: what if they buy the lie that your body is something you should flaunt on national television? What if they see so many 5′ 10″ toothpicks they despise the beautiful 5′ 6″ athletic build they are more likely to have? I needed to reconcile these two dilemmas: my past joy in watching a show like this and my current fear of glutting my daughters on commercialized exploitation of women? (I can be nearly as dramatic as Seren, but I usually keep in quieter.)
Ellen to the rescue and My Favorite Part from the Miss USA Pageant. Ellen’s Cover Girl commercial played during one of the first breaks in the show. For me it was perfect timing.
I laughed at Ellen, I laughed at myself, and I saw myself laughing one day with my daughters. Like everything else in this life, the key is to keep the conversation open. We can enjoy a show like the Miss USA Pageant at the same time that we can discuss how ridiculous it is to dance across a stage in a bikini that is – no way around it – a bra and underwear. I mean, who does that? But still, the dresses, the music, the competition, . . . it is all part of a show. We can enjoy it. We can remember not to take life too seriously. And that’s My Favorite Part.