So you’re watching a bunch of heavily made-up girls wearing blond wigs, painted-on tans and bikinis wriggle their butts on a stage to the beat of suggestive dance music. Maybe you’re at an upscale strip club. Or better yet, you scored an invitation to a party at the Playboy Mansion.
Or maybe you’re sitting in a conference room audience at the Opryland Hotel while a bunch of toddlers strut their mini-stuff for a panel of pageant judges.
That’s how I spent my Saturday. After receiving a postcard about the Dixieland Dolls and Darlings National Pageant, I knew fate was telling me to check out the baby beauty queen scene for myself. I didn’t think it could possibly be as bad as the media would have us believe. As it turned out, I was right.
It was worse.
The preschoolers I watched parade across the stage in custom-made, thousand-dollar costumes were among the cream of the pageant circuit crop, traveling from as far away as California and Texas with entourages of hairdressers, makeup artists, airbrush tanners and manicurists. After hours of painting and primping and teasing, even the 3-year-olds looked sexier than I did on my own wedding night.
We weren’t there long before a baby in a sequined top and a diaper shyly toddled over to my 2-year-old daughter, whom I’d brought along to watch the show. She wore a mop of synthetic curls pinned to her head and enough makeup to satisfy even the most pockmarked Vegas showgirl. Baby and I stared at her, fascinated.
“Kennadee Belle! We’re on stage in two minutes!” A tuxedo-clad man with spiked blonde hair and orange skin rushed over and scooped her up, jerking her into a pair of satin hot pants and eyeing Baby with distaste.
Once on stage, Kennadee Belle turned her back on the judges, bent over double and lifted her butt up and down to the music while Tuxedo Man beamed with pride. After a few thrown kisses and spacey-eyed smiles, her job was done. She was carried off the stage, into the waiting arms of another bleached and tanned man wearing an ought-to-be-illegal-sized, diamond-studded belt.
“Fabulous! Fabulous!” he shouted, grinning triumphantly at the moms around him.
As the girls got older, their wigs and lashes got longer, their tans deeper and their teeth whiter. It wasn’t long before I started having trouble remembering they were only a few years old, and instead found myself naming them in my head. Future Muscle Car Model. Future Howard Stern Guest. Future Plastic Surgery Addict.
After an hour of fluff, feathers and more Dynasty flashbacks than I thought I’d ever have in my lifetime, the senior 6-year-olds finally pranced onstage with all the jaded world-weariness of veteran Rockettes on the last night of their Christmas run. Their practiced smirks and simpers were so irritating that for the first time, I began thinking that maybe corporal punishment wasn’t such a bad idea. When they finished, one burst into tears as she jumped down from the stage into the arms of her coach.
“I couldn’t find my flippers before it was time to go on!” she wailed.
A mom seated beside me overheard the girl and turned to her own child.
“How’re your flippers doin’?” she asked worriedly.
“Good,” the girl replied, flashing a dazzling smile. “I’m gonna give ’em to you so I don’t lose ’em, OK?” Carefully, she popped out a set of fake teeth, custom designed to cover her own still-growing baby teeth.
“You never know what’s gonna come off these girls, do ya?” her grandmother laughed, looking at me. Seriously, what was left? Silicone falsies? A glass eye?
I had no time to contemplate the matter further. The second round was starting. This time, the contestants had chosen their own music, and all I can say is that I now know what must be playing continuously over the Guantanamo Bay PA system: “Barbie Girl.”
The song is hands-down the most annoying music recorded since Who Let the Dogs Out
. Perhaps for that very reason, almost half the girls had chosen it for their stage routine. With lyrics like You can do my hair, undress me everywhere, and I’m a blond bimbo girl in a fantasy world
blasting my eardrums while 2- and 3-year-old mini-harlots undulated before me, I began to wonder if someone had slipped a roofie into my Goldfish. I looked around nervously, half-expecting John Mark Karr to be carried in on a litter by a harem of kindergartners.
Six “Barbie Girl” choruses later, my stomach declared mutiny. I grabbed Baby’s hand and we hightailed it out of there.
“Did you have fun today?” I asked her as I strapped her in for the ride home.
“Yeah,” she replied.
“Hey, you don’t want to be in a pageant like those crazy babies, do you?”
“No!” she shouted. “I wanna crush bad guys! An’…big spiders!”
Read more Suburban Turmoil at www.suburbanturmoil.blogspot.com or on the
Scene’s blog at www.pithinthewind.com.