What if I told you guys that I won my high school’s beauty pageant, back in 1999. Would it cause you to view me differently, I mean, knowing that I am an award winning model and all?
Hehehe. I know, weird flex. Who brags about winning a teeny bopper beauty pageant more than 20 years ago. (Me, apparently.) But hey in my defense, my humble brag is a result of a cringey photo that I stumbled upon the other day.
The photo reminded me of my teenage years that were riddled with self-doubt and body issues. (So that’s, like, all the normal stuff). In fact, entering that beauty pageant was a feat on its own. I only entered because I come from a family of supermodels who all won their respective high school beauty pageants. It was tradition. And even though I was sans the supermodel gene, I felt it my duty to to carry on with this self-imposed family custom.
Psycho? Hahahahahha. Kinda.
Anyways, as I reminisce about this super cringey high school beauty pageant, I couldn’t help but think about my ouma.
Gearing up for the pageant, my ouma was my biggest (secret) cheerleader.
Yeah “(secret) cheerleader” because even though she feigned interest when it came to my childish wants and needs, she often magically made a plan to make it all happen.
I remember rehearsing pageant dance sequences (that required actual dancing… the shock, the horror) at home, and having her glance over at me time and again, probably wondering why her granddaughter had decided to blacken the family name with horrendous dance moves.
But hey, regardless of my lack of dance moves though, my ouma was the one who ran around making sure I had all the items needed for the pageant. (It was the year 1999. A year of ‘spaghetti strap tops’ and ‘pedal pusher pants’ like the cool Gwen Stefani stans that we were.) As always, my ouma bent over backwards to make sure that her children had what they needed.
I mean, there was no way that I would win this thing. Well, that’s what I had thought. I didn’t enter it to win, anyways. I entered it to fulfill family tradition. Mos.
But my ouma made sure that I was as prepped as a winner should be. Even if it meant giving her last few coins to buy the necessities.
At the end of the night, when the judges called my name as the winner, a bunch of thoughts crossed my mind, in this sequence:
“Yayyyy number 5 won!”
“Oh wait, I’m number 5.”
*pause for confusion*
“I think they made a mistake”
At this point I said “huh, ME?!” outloud.
“Okay Luchae walk to the front of the stage and don’t make eye contact with the other girls.”
“Oh look… my whole family is standing and screaming like actual lunatics.”
“Why is Ma sitting down? Wait… is she…. crying?”
And… yeah… at that moment, I realised that I had won it for her. Winning this (very small, probably unimportant) beauty pageant wasn’t important to me. But seeing my granny reap the fruit of her labor made it all worth it in the end.
If she were around today she’d see that her (secret) cheerleading motivated and empowered me to make a success of my life. Her sacrifices paved the way for my successes. Her selfless giving enabled me to do things that she probably only dreamt of doing. I miss her.
I hope I can be that for someone else one day… you know? A (secret) cheerleader, like my ouma was for me.