Editor’s note: The following is submitted by Mary Jane Baetz of Scottsdale, a recent contestant in the Ms. Senior Arizona Pageant and author of “The Age of Elegance, The Story of a Ms. Senior Pageant,” a book describing her experience in the pageant.
Remember when you went to the high school prom, aglow in your loveliest dress, prettiest shoes and shiniest earrings? Remember how you teased and smoothed your hair to gleaming perfection and wore the perfect shade of lip gloss?
Fast-forward 50 years, when you enter the Ms. Senior Arizona Pageant. Here you go again. Suddenly you are in search of a glamorous gown, shoes and jewelry, make-up and perfect hair.
But this time you are going to compete with other senior women for the title of “Queen,” which comes with an honest-to-goodness crown and a year-long reign. The memories of those girlhood days flicker back to you, but now you have joined a group of women age 60-and-up, ready to show the world what “the age of elegance” means.
Going to the prom was thrilling, but getting ready for a pageant is hard work. I know because I did it. It’s about more than just having a pretty face, although among women age 60-and-up there are still a lot of those.
A senior pageant is about the courage to get up on a stage, the charm and style to model your gown, the poise to explain your philosophy of life, and the talent to entertain the audience for 2 ½ minutes. It takes weeks of preparation, but it turns out to be a truly rewarding experience.
I met amazing women whose life stories include joy and achievement, as well as pain and loss, just like mine. Our elegance came from within, not just our fabulous gowns and make-up.
On the big night of the pageant we got out there and strutted across the stage, proud of everything that led us to that moment. When it was all over, when the curtains closed and the applause ended, I decided to write a book about it.
No, I was not the Queen. I was not even the runner-up. But I had been part of a great adventure, and I certainly felt like a winner.
The beauty of being a novelist is that you get to create your own plot and characters. That’s what I did, I made up a whole new pageant based it on my own experience.
So when you read the book, you share the stories of fabulous women along with the excitement of the weeks leading up to the big event: the moment the Queen is crowned and walks across the stage cradling a dozen red roses in one arm and waving with her other hand, her bright smile and glittering tiara sparkling beneath the stage lights. It is thrilling, even when you don’t win.
“The Age of Elegance, the Story of a Ms. Senior Pageant” is available now, receiving great reviews from readers. You can find it at the website below and if you decide to order a copy, I will be proud to sign it for you.
“The Age of Elegance” by Mary Jane Baetz at www.theageofelegancebook.com.