On Saturday, I competed in Kochanski’s Miss Polish Pinup Princess Pageant, part of the annual Polish Pile-Up car show. I’d actually registered for this competition last year only to wake up terribly ill the morning of the contest, so this was a long time coming. I finally decided to take the leap, after watching a number of contests at other car shows, and go for it myself.
Did all my pinup dreams come true? Well…not exactly.
It was super fun getting ready for the contest (I successfully wore false eyelashes!) and hanging out with the other contestants before the contest began. I’d just presented an award a few days before, so my nerves weren’t too bad. There was a lot of bubbly excitement and anticipation, waiting inside for my name and number to be called. I strutted my stuff in front of the crowd and returned, a little breathless, to wait “backstage” with the other ladies. And then I was eliminated in the first round, and…that was that. End of the line.
In retrospect, I’m not sure exactly what made me, someone both highly anxious and extremely competitive, decide that inviting strangers to judge me on my looks was a good idea. Obviously, losing is always a bummer. But this definitely hit me harder than I really expected. I’ve never been a graceful loser. Not in elementary school spelling bees, not auditioning for shows throughout high school and college, and not now. And in general, one of the most important lessons I’ve learned regarding improving my mental health is that I don’t have to put myself in situations that will make me unhappy. Sometimes the reward is worth the turmoil, but as nice as a sash and tiara are…in the end, I don’t think that outweighs feeling crummy. Isn’t that what well-adjusted adulthood is all about?
Looking back at the day, the parts that really made me happy weren’t related to actually competing at all. It was spending time with cool ladies who shared my interests, having fun snapping pictures, admiring each other’s outfits, and generally having a good time. For the forseeable future, I think that I’ll stay in the role of cheerleader. I’ll get glammed up to stand in the crowd and raucously applaud for the fabulous ladies on stage, and we’ll all have more fun that way.
Have you ever done a pinup contest? Do you think I’m a weirdo for reacting like this (I kind of think I am…) or do you get it?