This year was the first year I got to watch Baylor’s homecoming parade from start to finish. My four years as a student, I was in the parade with Baylor Swing Dance Society. It was really neat to see the wide range of organizations represented in the parade, from BSDS and Baylor Dance Company to the sororities and fraternities, to the Baylor Driving Club, the Baylor Wakeboarding Club, the various academic associations, Student Foundation, etc. It showed the diversity of people and interests at Baylor and highlighted how many people and groups have found a home at Baylor.
What I didn’t expect to enjoy, though, was watching all the homecoming queen nominees go by. I figured they would all be the stereotypical type of pretty that you expect to see in magazines and movies. I always resented the homecoming queen competition while at Baylor; I figured it probably started as a way to show off the prettiest girls on campus and did nothing more than make other girls feel inadequate and insecure.
Surprisingly, I found that watching the homecoming queen nominees was one of my favorite parts of the parade.
I was surprised at how diverse the nominees were. While it’s true that most of the nominees were white and thin, there were nominees who were black, asian and latino; some who wore extra makeup and had perfectly coiffed hair, while others wore their hair in a simple, everyday style and wore minimal makeup; many of these girls didn’t fit the traditional definition of “pretty.” I was surprised, and pleased, to even see a couple of overweight girls dressed beautifully, sitting in cars and waving to the crowd.
The parade felt like a celebration of the range of female beauty.
Now, I’m not trying to set up the parade as perfect. I’m sure there is a lot of room for more diversity, and that many of the girls did fit within the traditional parameters for beautiful. But watching the parade, I felt hopeful. I felt hopeful that more and more people seem to be recognizing that beauty comes in different shapes and sizes. Hopeful that beauty is being displayed not just as something achieved through makeup and hairstyling, but as something that is naturally in every girl. Hopeful that I’ll someday bring my daughters to the homecoming parade and not be absolutely terrified that their self-esteem will be crushed by watching the queen nominees go by.
In the parade, the nominee from the Baylor Wakeboarding Club, who wore her hair simply, had minimal makeup, and wore a simple but pretty dress, looked just as beautiful as Miss Texas.
Helping build the self-esteem of the female population won’t come through blanket insistence that “everyone is beautiful,” but through celebrating beauty in its diverse forms. And this is why I loved watching the parade at Baylor homecoming 2012.