There She Is, a new documentary short that follows two best friends competing in the 2011 American Beauties Plus Pageant, is an interesting glimpse into the world of pageants for large ladies. These women work on their evening wear looks, interview skills, and stage presence just like the Miss America crew, but you'll never see them in front of a national audience.
And why not? Miss America doesn't specify weight restrictions on their website — that I could find — so I'm guessing the written rule that a contestant must "Be in reasonably good health to meet the job requirements" translates to NO FAT CHICKS. I mean, as far as I know the job requirements for Miss America are mainly standing around a lot, but perhaps she also needs to successfully wear a Cheerio as a tube top. What do I know?
I'm conflicted about all of this.
On one hand, it's heartening to see women of different shapes and sizes representing publicly — especially bigger women. Yes, all women are real women, but the fact is, larger women are almost entirely erased from the media — and when they are shown, it's almost never in a way that isn't directly related to their size. So yes, seeing fat women strutting their stuff in pageants is inspiring. Hell, seeing a gorgeous fat woman in a beautiful dress with her makeup done is enough to get me teary eyed.
On the other hand, it's sad that these women are clearly spending more money than they'll ever earn to walk down a pint-size catwalk in a Holiday Inn Express' "ballroom". Let's be real, the American Beauties Plus Pageant has more in common with Toddlers in Tiaras than it does with Miss America. It reminded me of Tracie's piece on entering her daughter in a baby pageant — which, while hilarious, was also reallllly fucking depressing from a "I weep for humanity" perspective.