Recently Stana of the Femulate blog reran and earlier post by Starla on Why Womanless Beauty Pageants are so popular. My interest goes back to the beginning of Sister House where I included womanless beauty pageants in my Comedy Theater as cross-dressing, particularly in this venue, is fun and can be funny although many pageants are serious stuff.
I learned a few things including that most of these pageants are held in the “deep south”, mostly in Mississippi and Alabama or just across the border in neighboring states and they are often long running, year after year fundraiser events
It seems the good ole boy conservative south, while not awfully friendly towards our transgender community, has no problem embracing these womanless events. And while some of them put on by local civic associations (fire fighters love them) are often quite humorous, those put on by middle schools and high schools are serious events with families (mothers) spending enormous monies to get their sons looking and acting like real women.
And they are successful in their goal to faithfully mimic young women as these young boys make beautiful women. People seem willing and eager to parade their tween and teen sons on a stage in up-to-date gowns, excellent wigs or natural hairstyles, perfect makeup, and high heels, and revel in the event.
The degree of attention to detail and realism in some of these pageants is remarkable. One recently discovered Mississippi event (in Kozciusko) had a dress shop owner bragging on her Facebook page that she had supplied dresses to four of the young male entrants in a local pageant (including her own 14-year-old son who, she proudly announced, had won the pageant). No thrift shop bargains or hand-me-downs – these were current fashions.
In many womanless events elsewhere, footwear tends to be male shoes, flip-flops, or bare feet. In these Deep South pageants, the boys almost uniformly wear stylish high heels and, judging from the ease with which they walk in them, they have practiced in them for some time. We’re talking about 3-to-4 inch heels on some of these! How many 12 to 16-year-old boys do you know who can walk gracefully in heels?
Makeup is done lavishly and professionally – one tween boy in an Alabama pageant looked like he had gotten a full M•A•C makeover. Nails are almost always painted – some even wear fake nails. A few of the pictures I’ve found show boys in open-toed shoes and it is apparent that their toenails have also been nicely painted. (This is the sort of obsessive detail that most audience members wouldn’t even be able to see from their vantage point.)
The outfits are nicely accessorized with earrings, necklaces, bracelets, even rings. Not grandma’s old junk jewelry – stuff that would look right at home on any female pageant contestant.
And the parents – these same parents who trash Caitlyn Jenner on their Twitter feeds or fight to keep transgender students from using gender-appropriate bathrooms (if they allow trans kids at all in their schools), or encourage county clerks to ignore the SCOTUS ruling and refuse marriage licenses to gay couples, nevertheless revel proudly (and often, not ironically or jokingly) in their son winning or placing high in a womanless event. They will brag on how pretty their son looked and how they looked totally feminine. While simultaneously, their Facebook accounts feature hunting trips, NASCAR, scripture quotations, and proud, defiant and conspicuous display of the rebel flag.
Starla went on to say that she corresponded with a fellow womanless beauty pageant enthusiast who has even attended some of these events and talked to some of the parents. Believe it or not, in the most extreme examples, they have worked for weeks on finding the perfect dress, experimenting with makeup, and drilling their son in pageant deportment. This is not something they throw together two days before the event – this is serious business to many!
She strongly suspects that many of the mothers who go all-out for these events are established “pageant Moms” who have daughters who compete. Then when it’s Johnny’s turn to be “prettied up,” they just apply the same level of intensity and attention to detail to their boys as they do to their girls. Or they may be “wannabes” – I’ve noted a few cases in which a Mom freely admitted that they had no daughters and despaired of ever having the fun of preparing their kin for a pageant – until their son’s school held such an event and they were able to lavish their machinations on him
What about the young men and boys who don female garb for these events? Well, in the region in question, they seem to enjoy the experience for the most part. This doesn’t necessarily signify anything profound. Dressing up for a womanless pageant is not going to turn a boy trans, though it may help to confirm and solidify an existing propensity or desire to crossdress in someone who’s already wired that way and provides a safe and fun way to indulge those stirrings in a socially acceptable context.
However one theorizes about this phenomenon, it is a fascinating window on the unique and contradictory culture of Dixie!
Starla perused online high school yearbooks and clipped any womanless events she found memorialized in those volumes. You can view her collection of yearbook photos here
And here is a Pinterest board dedicated to the womanless beauty pageant. Pinterest even offers a tutorial on how to stage a beauty pageant.
Stana on Femulate has just published an update of all her Womanless Beauty Pageants by Starla Renee Trimm under the title, It’s That Time of Year. If only my school had had one.
Lastly, you might also enjoy When Womanless Weddings Were Trendy. Some fascinating history here