Today I Read…Beauty Queens

Let’s try an experiment.

I’m going to actually record what books I’m reading, with a quick description, any quotes I really like, etc. This will last for as long as I can be bothered/remember to do it. We had to do this for class once (see previous post Reader Profile), and it was kind of interesting to actually see an overview of what I read instead of just grabbing whatever book I feel like when it’s time to start a new one.

So, today I read Beauty Queens by Libba Bray.

The Corporation presents: the beautiful young women of the Miss Teen Dream pageant! See… their plane crash onto a desert island! Awww… as they learn to work together to survive and stay pretty and prepare for their big day at the Miss Teen Dream pageant! Woah… as they meet the gorgeous pirates of the Corporation’s hit reality show Captains Bodacious IV: Badder and More Bodaciouser! Ignore… all of the mysterious men in black shirts with guns, the exploding New Lady ’Stache Off with triple beauty action™ (Lady ’Stache Off. Because there’s nothing wrong with you … that can’t be fixed.), the third-world dictator with the Elvis fetish, the plot to take over the presidency of the United States..hell, ignore everything. Look! Beauty queens in bikinis! Talking about the environment and eating vegetables and boys and purity and feminism and taking control of their lives and being transgendered and being lesbians and ethnicity and disability rights and…what the hell?!? Cut to commercial! Another commercial!

The Corporation. Just look at the pretty girls and don’t think, alright!

I really enjoyed this book. I love this kind of meta-spoofing humour (see the wonderful and underrated Josie and the Pussycats movie, and the equally wonderful Galaxy Quest movie). It reminded me a bit of Drop Dead Gorgeous as well. It starts off a bit slow–they all seem like stereotypical brainless beauty queens who are almost all completely unaware of the reality that their plane has crashed and they are all alone. Valley Girl Robinson Crusoe and friends much? Then you slowly get to know the characters and find out none of them are really that stereotyped, and they all have their own reasons for being in the pageant. By comparison, the bad guys are a little underdeveloped, but they’re the bad guys and bad guys are icky, so who cares? (you need to picture me flipping back long straight blonde hair at this point, even though I don’t have long straight blonde hair)

I loved the commercial breaks, and the Miss Teen Dream Fun Facts Page that introduces each of the beauty queens, and the Words from Our Sponser, and the footnotes.

This book is good for anyone who likes to mock the beauty culture and the popular culture that worships style over substance, and anyone who just has a dark sense of humour. While it’s meant to be a YA book, it’s probably better for older teens and people who don’t take popular media too seriously.


Lyrics to “Safe Tween Crush” by Boyz Will B Boyz:

“Wanna rock you, girl, with a butterfly tunic. / No, I’m not gay, I’m just your emo eunuch. / Gonna smile real shy, won’t cop a feel, / ’cause I’m your virgin crush, your supersafe deal. / Let those other guys keep sexing. / You and me, we be texting / ’bout unicorns and rainbows and our perfect love. / Girl, we fit together like a hand in a glove. / Now I don’t mean that nasty, tell your mom don’t get mad. /I even wrote ‘You’re awesome’ on your maxi pads.”


BARRY REX: We’ll take your calls in a moment. But first, Ladybird, you’ve come under fire recently for your promotion of a pageant that some see as antiquated. That the system rewards girls for being pretty and it values compliance and conformity rather than the boldness and rule-breaking that we pride in our boys and which often help them feel entitled to success, to getting ahead in life.

LADYBIRD HOPE: Well, frankly, that’s the sort of stuff I expect my critics to say, because they want to turn all women into sluts who can get an abortion at the drive-through while they’re off at college gettin’ indoctrinated with folk-singin’, patchouli-wearin’, hairy-armpit-advocatin’ feminism, which is just one step away from terrorism, and we should all be afraid of that.

BARRY REX: I’m not sure I —

LADYBIRD HOPE: Barry, let me give you a history lesson, Ladybird Hope-style. When the Vietnamese got kids hooked on drugs and we had to fight a war to stop it, did we give in?


LADYBIRD HOPE: No! We said “Crack is wack!” and we made sure everybody could have guns instead of drugs. Back before the British were our friends, and they had a mean king who made uspay too much tax instead of just having hot princes who go to nightclubs, they wanted to keep us from bringing freedom to the people of Mexico and making it a state, and George Washington had to chop down a cherry tree and write the “Star-Spangled Banner,” and that’s the reason we fought World War II, and why we keep fighting, because those freedom-hating people out there want to take away our right to be rich and good-lookin’ and have gated communities and designer sweatpants like the ones from my Ladybird Hope Don’t Sweat It line, and they want us all to learn to speak Muslim and let the lawyers stop us from teaching about Adam and Eve and that will be the day that every child gets left behind. Our country needs something to believe in, Barry. They need us to be that shining beacon on the hill, and that shining beacon will not have all these complications and tough questions about who we are, ’cause that’s hard, and nobody wants to think about that when you already have to decide whether you want Original Recipe or Extra Crispy and that little box is squawkin’ at ya. And let me tell you something, Barry, that shining beacon will have a talent portion and pretty girls, because if we don’t come out and twirl those batons and model our evening gowns and answer questions about geography, then the terrorists have won.


Adina squeezed her hands against her head. “What are you even saying? You just made my brain die a little. You know, people, just being beautiful isn’t enough.”

Tiara looked confused. “But … it always has been.”


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