Monday, April 11, 2005

this is not a scholarship competition.

A WaPo reporter (and mother of three) plays dress up at Miss USA; you know, the one they judge more or less based on how you look in a swimsuit:

Rondinella's skilled hands give your face bones you didn't know you had, and in the intimacy of her chair she engages you in relaxed, reassuring tones. This is good, because you're starting to feel like a drag queen. You stifle your fear and concentrate instead on the energy of the people around you. The room is filled with beauty professionals, edgy folks in black pants and gelled hair. As a team of three stylists brush you and curl you, they whisper words to make you feel pretty. You're Miss Desperate Housewife, you quip to them.

Miss-Sterious, Miss Diagnosed, offers hairstylist Brian Fontenot, who adds reassuringly: 'I tell people I've got more to offer at 36 than I did at 26.'

A Miss USA contestant wanders in to get hair extensions. 'I'd say 75 percent of the girls wear extensions for length and texture,' says hairstylist Albert Luiz. He calls for silk therapy and 2 1/2-inch hot curling irons.

'Remember, one shoulder exposed for softness,' Luiz instructs, brushing your hair away from your face. The judges are seated below the contestants onstage, he says, and that helps lengthen your neck, 'makes it look more swanlike.'

Also, an acknowledgement that you must be a mutant to win, and never, never a dead girl:

With the ones who have it, there's a connection, Kobayshi says, "you can see it in the eyes immediately. Some people are beautiful, but dead, no life."

The woman who wins doesn't have to be the most beautiful, but she's got to have that "X-factor," Kobayshi says, a sense that she'd rather be onstage, looking beautiful for all you people, than anywhere else in the world.


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