Date: July 12th, 2012
Since the age of five, Becky wanted to be Queen of the Port Orchard Harbor Festival. She wanted to wave to crowds from an open-roofed car, and wear a long shimmering gown. To reach this goal, Becky started applying her mothers make up in secret, and mimicking the latest trends meant for girls three-times her age. By her seventh birthday, all Becky could see in herself were flaws, and as she entered her teens her disappointment only seemed to grow worse.
“My chin is too pointy,” she said, “My cheeks are too puffy, and my nose is slightly crooked. My legs are too stocky, and my toes are too long.” There was no point on her body that Becky couldn’t find fault.
Around the age of fifteen, as the opportunity for Queenship approached, Becky sat her parents down, and discussed her desire to get plastic surgery.
“You are too young,” her father said, “and there is nothing wrong with your chin, or your cheeks, or your nose, or your legs. You are a healthy and beautiful young woman.”
“Your toes are a little long,” said her mother, “but that can’t be fixed, and I actually think they look good on you.” Unfortunately, hearing these assurances made Becky feel worse. She accused her parents of lying to her.
One night before going to sleep, Becky went to her window, and looked up at the North Star. “I wish I was beautiful,” she said in a broken whisper, and instantly the star glowed brighter, filling her room like sunlight, and from this light a fairy descended. She had wide opaque wings, and a dress of mirrored sequins.
“Will you grant my wish?” Becky begged.
“I will do something even better,” said the fairy, “For I know that your real wish is to be Orchard Queen and there is more to that job than being beautiful. It is a community service position. You must open your heart, and bring joy to the community.”
“Beauty brings joy,” said Becky.
“No,” said the fairy. “Beauty brings the expectation of joy. When you admire the harbor, you not only see what it is, but what it could be. You see yourself swimming, or sailing. You feel the cool early morning mist. Beauty is only as good as its foundations.
“But people admire the harbor before they sail it,” said Becky. “Nobody admires me. I am ugly.”
“Has anyone ever told you, ‘You are ugly?’” asked the fairy.
Becky thought hard. “Twice.” said decided.
“So, you want to change yourself, because of what one or two people said?” the fairy asked, crossing her arms disapprovingly.
“Why not?” Becky said, also crossing her arms.
“Close your eyes,” said the fairy… and she waited. Becky was reluctant, but the fairy did frighten her a little bit. She closed her eyes, and the fairy continued, “Picture the woman you think is the most beautiful in all the world. Then think of all the magazines that retouch her photos, erasing what they believe to be flaws. Then think of the hundreds of nasty comments people write about her being ugly, or fat, or how her hair would look better in whatever way it isn’t. I’ll repeat. Hundreds of people tell this woman that she’s ugly every single day. You only have two people. I’d say that your real problem is that you aren’t ugly enough. What do you think to that?”
“Now I’m just confused,” Becky said, opening her eyes.
“Unfortunately, that’s life,” said the fairy. “I have to be going now. There’s a girl in Thailand wishing that her family should survive an impending tsunami. Remember what I said, though. Think of the good you want to do for the community. Let it show through your eyes, and you will win Orchard Queen.” With that, the fairy flew off into the night, leaving Becky to fall asleep pondering her words.
The next morning, Becky thought only of the poor girl in Thailand, and other people like her who lived in unsafe places, or suffered any number of worldly troubles. At the end of all this thinking Becky came to one surprisingly tough conclusion, she was lucky. She lived in a safe and loving community, surrounded by friends and family, and got to go to school and learn, and be free. Why did these things not always seem enough? She was going to change that.
Over the next year, as she prepared for the Port Orchard Harbor Festival, Becky reminded herself every day, “You are lucky. You--are--lucky.” She spent less time worrying, and more time smiling. She used her brain to tutor kids at the library, her heart to protect coastal wildlife, and her insecurities to help other girls ignore the desire for perfection.
On the three hundred and sixty-fifth day, after a three-round battle with twelve contestants, Becky’s dream finally came true. The judges declared her “Queen of the Port Orchard Harbor Festival.”
Whether anyone thought her cheeks were too puffy or her nose too crooked remains unknown. What is known; however, was that nobody cared. They knew a role model when they saw one.
Story by Alex Schattner
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