Since the age of five, Becky wanted to be Queen of the Port Orchard Harbor Festival. She wanted to wave to crowds from an open-roofed car, and wear a long shimmering gown. To reach this goal, Becky started applying her mothers make up in secret, and mimicking the latest trends meant for girls three-times her age.
By her seventh birthday, all Becky could see in herself were flaws, and as she entered her teens the problems only appeared to get worse.
“My chin is too pointy,” she would say to just about anyone. “My cheeks are too puffy, and my nose is slightly crooked. My legs are too stocky, and my toes are too long.” There was not a single point on her body that Becky couldn’t find fault in.
Around the age of fifteen, as the opportunity for Queenship approached, Becky sat her parents down, and discussed her desire to get plastic surgery.
“You are too young,” said her father, “and there is nothing wrong with your chin, or your cheeks, or your nose, or your legs. You are a healthy and beautiful young woman.”
“Your toes are a little long,” said her mother, “but that can’t be fixed, and I actually think they look good on you.” Unfortunately, hearing these assurances didn’t make Becky feel any better. In fact, they just made her angry.
That night, before going to sleep, Becky went to her window, and looked up at the North Star. “I wish I was beautiful,” she said in a broken whisper, and without hesitation the star glowed, and a fairy descended. She had wide opaque wings, and a dress of mirrored sequins.
“Will you grant my wish?” Becky asked.
“I will do something even better,” said the fairy, “For I know that your real wish is to be Orchard Queen and there is more to that job than being beautiful. It is a community service position. You must open your heart, and bring joy to the community.”
“Beauty brings joy,” said Becky.
“No,” said the fairy. “Beauty brings the expectation of joy. When you admire the harbor, you not only see what it is, but what it could be. You see yourself swimming, or sailing. You feel the cool early morning mist. Beauty is only as good as its foundations.
“But people admire the harbor before they sail it,” said Becky. “Nobody admires me. I am ugly.”
“Has anyone ever told you you were ugly?” asked the fairy.
“Once or twice.” said Becky, thinking hard.
“So your going to change yourself, because of what one or two people said?” the fairy asked.
“Why not?” Becky said.
“Close your eyes, and picture the woman you think is the most beautiful in all the world. Then think of all the magazines that have her touched up, because they only see her flaws. Think of the hundreds of nasty comments people write about her being ugly, or fat, or how her hair would look better in whatever way it isn’t at that moment. I’ll repeat. Hundreds of people tell this woman that she’s ugly every single day. You only have one or two people. Maybe your real problem is that you aren’t ugly enough. Think about that.” said the fairy.
“Now I’m just confused,” Becky said, eyes glazed.
“Unfortunately, that’s life. I have to be going now. There’s a girl in Thailand wishing that her family should survive an impending tsunami. Just remember what I said. Think of the good you want to do for the community. Let it show through your eyes, and you will win Orchard Queen.” And with that, the fairy disappeared in a beam of light.
The next morning, Becky awoke refreshed. Instead of thinking about her nose, she thought about how lucky she was to be living in a safe and loving community surrounded by friends and family.
A year later, Becky was declared the Queen of the Port Orchard Harbor Festival, because she was just the kind of sweet and loving girl that any city would be proud to have representing them. Sure, every once in a while, Becky still looked in a mirror and thought that her nose was slightly crooked, but the fairy had indeed given her a great gift. Becky could now say, “I’m imagining things,” and move on.
This story was written by Alex Schattner (10:20am – 12:20pm, 7/12/12)