I don't think I'll ever know how I feel about beauty pageants.
Part of me can't believe we haven't come further in society than to parade young women across a stage and compare and compete based on beauty. Someone please tell me we no longer do this.
And fierce competition it can be, too. I know, because I interviewed Miss South Carolina and told her story that got her there and on to the Miss America pageant in a magazine cover story.
But part of beauty pageants is community service, learning to be an articulate communicator, and interviewing skills and experience. Part of it a young woman's accomplishment, intellect, and talent on display. I'm all for honoring and celebrating hard work.
In a day and age when the sexes are blurred and homosexuality is the new black, I like that my daughter was holed up in her bedroom this afternoon with two best friends putting curls in Reagan's hair, eye liner just so, and unwrapping new earrings for the occasion.
I like that she studied her interview questions and answers late into the night with her older sister who would have rather been asleep but stayed up to help Reagan. That will be a worthwhile sister memory.
And the twenty minute rides to and from the school — all 5 of them in the last 48 hours — have been full of singing Broadway songs with my girl at the top of our lungs, and short, casual conversations about the balance between competition and having fun that really weren't all that casual after all.
I told her I was proud of her for doing everything herself. No mom taking over, telling her she ought to wear a suit for the interview. It was all Reagan, every choice, every preparation. No paid make up artist or hair style. Just a girl and her friends in her room.
Part of me will be squirming tonight when my growing up girl walks gracefully across the stage in her teal gown. But part of me will be very proud, and when it's all said and done tonight, I still won't know how I feel about pageants.