Sunday, May 4, 2008

One size does not fit all (11 of 16)

More than 100 visiting queens, princesses, attendants, contessas, and chaperones attended the Visiting Royalty lunch. These girls earn scholarships for their service, a commitment to travel statewide for a year, encouraging others to come to their towns and support their festivals (upon which local economies and charities often depend). The gathered queens, ranging in age from 13-19, defied the kind of conformity of beauty that the media perpetuates--all sizes and body types were refreshingly represented, and braces were every bit as common as mascara. Some girls represented unusual themes—(at left) The Miss Swiss, just 15, who had to demonstrate knowledge of cheese for her title, and Miss Bratwurst (at right), who told me she was too often asked if she was carrying any sausage with her. A rare few girls worked the haughty queen angle—the Apple Queens (center) boasting their fancy dresses were paid for by “our mommies and daddies”—but most reveled in a spirit of community, gamely playing along when the event's entertainment (top) began: a hypnotist who led them to feeling their arms float away as if tied to balloons.

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