Editor’s note: Letters to Rhonda and Dr. Cheri come from around the U.S. via our website and are not necessarily from Prescott.
Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,
My mom put me in pageants since I was two and “we” won a lot of prizes. I loved winning the dolls and money but my mom took the money. I won a prize called the Ultimate Grand Supreme once. Mom called everyone and even my dad came over for a party she gave because I won that prize.
The real reason I liked winning was because then my mom was nice to me and bragged about me. But if I didn’t win, she would say that I was stupid for doing a dance wrong or not smiling.
Mom yelled at everyone about me not having enough time or that the judges weren’t fair. I felt so bad. She yanked on my hair and then she bought wigs. She sprayed hair-spray in my eyes one time. I had to have false teeth when my teeth started falling out when I was six. I had to wear false eyelashes and most of my dresses were too tight because my mom said I didn’t win enough pageants to buy more dresses that fit.
I drank sugar drinks and energy drinks. My mom told me it was worth it because I won pageants. My mom said it helped pay for the nice things we have.
Now I’m in high school and my mom put up all my pictures of me winning pageants on Facebook. Some boys saw them and said I was the ugliest girl they ever saw. My girlfriends said I look like a freak. They laugh at me and when I told them it hurts my feelings, my friends said it’s my mom they are laughing at because she’s in the pictures too and she’s really fat.
Now I only go on Facebook to meet new friends. There’s a guy who wants to meet me from another town. Should I meet him?
Dear Pageant girl,
We’re happy you asked us your most important question: Should you meet people that you don’t know from social media?
Do not go! You don’t know if that person is who they say they are. They may be a harmful person, regardless of the kind and caring things they say. You could be in real danger. Tell them they may come to meet you in a public place with a trusted adult only.
Many predators hide behind pretend names and feelings. That is how so many missing persons wind up being abducted or worse.
We do not support pageants for children. France, in fact, passed a law banning beauty pageants for children under 16. Any adult caught breaking this law could face two years in prison and fines.
We should support the same law in the United States. A child’s well-being, safety (emotional, sexual or physical) is the responsibility of adults who should not subject children, youth and toddlers to adult-type competitions and often times adult talent routines and costumes.
Ask your school counselor or an authority figure to direct you and your mom to a professional therapist or social worker so you may work through your pain.
Drop your social media for now (until you have had therapy with your mom). Stop communicating with your new unknown “friends.” Develop new, real friends from your community.
Being in pageants doesn’t define you. Develop new talents to enjoy!
Rhonda and Dr. Cheri
Rhonda Orr is the president and founder of the Prescott-based Rhonda’s STOP BULLYING Foundation. Dr. Cheri L. McDonald, PhD, LMFT, is a crime-victim specialist. Send your anonymous questions to Rhonda@rhondastopbullying.org. Find out more about Rhonda’s STOP BULLYING Foundation at www. rhondastopbullying.org.