Dyed, curled, teased and sprayed hair, all pinned up in a trendy and sexy hairstyle. Foundation, blush, mascara and red sensuous lips, practically painted on….stage lights can be so cruel. Let us not forget the red gel nails which stand out from the second skin, or otherwise known as the extremely tight even gown, which will hopefully attract the eyes of the discriminating judges. Add stilettos and a confident air of class and purpose to this painting…..the stage is now set. Taking one last glance into the sometimes unforgiving mirror, while the other girls are rushing around behind her all trying to look their best as well, she gave herself a quick little wink and descended from the dressing room. Not only was every detail of her appearance integral in that night but her attitude could make or break her. They had to look confident yet, not overly confident; they needed to portray a sense of innocence and freshness.
What would happen if she won? How would she act……would she change? There was no time for those thoughts, the moment had finally arrived. “And the new Miss is….. She’d won?! What would happen now? Why was everyone standing and clapping? And why was she crying? Only dumb pageant girls on the televised Miss America pageant cried, yet…she was crying. There was a crown placed on her head, a sash over her shoulder and multiple bouquets of flowers in her arms. She was parading around the catwalk, while some sappy song played in the background and waving at the hundreds of people in the audience whom she didn’t even know. Who was she and what was she doing? She was obviously the same person who had come to compete but, the banner across her chest now said something different.
The hair, make-up and clothing that she had decorated herself with all demonstrated her presentation of self through significant symbols. By using physically altering beauty aids, she had attempted to make herself beautiful according to normative standards set by society. Beautiful as defined in the pageant scene, does not implicitly rely on natural beauty but, rather on an almost altered, atypical beauty which would appeal to a specific group. In this case, the point of reference was the community and she had been chosen to represent its youth. Other significant symbols obviously included the crown, the sash and the flowers; all to announce to everyone that she had won.
An essential theory that comes into view is the concept of what people give and give off. As the contestants had prepared to go on stage and compete, they had all controlled or had attempted to control what they would give and give off to the judges and the audience. Their physical appearance had become instrumental in how people would perceive them. Role-taking also had come into play as each contestant pictured themselves as a beauty queen and had tried to think about how people would interpret their appearance and actions. This kind of role-playing involved a great amount of symbolization and re-symbolization. Just think back to the stereotypical television pageants that display young women that are always cheerful and smiling, put-together and confident and never failing to be outgoing and compassionate. As the contestants had prepared themselves for the competition, they had acted out and role-played all of the qualities observed on the television and read about in the magazines. The contestants had not only controlled what they readily could, like their appearance, but had also tried to control what they gave off to the judges and audience. They welled-up with passion when speaking of sensitive issues and were quite adamant and forthcoming when they supposedly disagreed with such issues that pageants were out-dated and based to a large extent on appearance. It was made to look as though their tears and passion were involuntary and linked to biological factors.
As soon as she had found out she had won, she…