Remember the royal court in high school dances such as homecoming, prom, and formal? Students would vote other students as princess, prince, queen, or king. The top student wins the highest point available for their class. During my sophomore year in high school, I won the spot for my class’s princess in winter formal. I know many people from my school would probably read this and think “Ugh, shut up about it. It was so long ago…”, but I beg to differ. It is not wrong to reminisce these moments, as selfish as they may be labeled. It was a moment that made me feel important, and no one has the right to tell me otherwise.It was finals week. I was stuck in my Spanish 2A class, finishing up a test, only minutes before the bell would ring to take the next one- English 10AH. I left the class for half an hour with an excruciating stomachache, probably due to taking bee pollen, but I was well-rested. The teacher, whose smile was warming and her presence welcoming, enjoyed me dearly. She knew what was on my mind. She truncated my test, only giving me a tenth of the words to conjugate, but I could barely focus on Spanish. In the previous weeks, she helped and gave me the courage I needed to get the one thing I wanted most- the title of Sophomore Princess.
Finally, the director of the associated student body was making an announcement on the intercom. “I am proud to announce your 2013 Winter Formal Court!” I turned to my teacher with a look of surprise, and she returned the glance. First was the freshman princess, then the freshman prince, next was the sophomore princess.
And I had won.
I jumped out of my desk and squealed in happiness with my teacher, who once was the queen at her high school’s dance. I won. I, a person who did not hang with the in crowd, who did not dress like the in crowd, who preferred the company of the outcasts, had won. Out of all the women in my class, the student body majority chose me. But I could not have done it alone. I spent hours at brunch, lunch, and after school asking friends, classmates, and strangers to vote for me.
Hell, I stood in front of two classes, asking for their votes. No one did that. I spoke with a racing heart and a sense of possibility that I could lose and so many people would think I was foolish to take time out of class to ask them to vote me, a naive sophomore whom they did not know. I made a deal with a junior running for prince who sat next to me in chemistry. I did not trust him because I did not know him, but at least I got something going. I helped him get some votes.
I could not have done this without my friends. Friends. My boyfriend, Ryan, had run for princess alongside me. Had he won sophomore prince?
He came to my classroom to celebrate for me, but he lost. I felt bad that he lost. I wondered who won.
When my mom picked me up, the first thing I told her was that I won. I explained to her how the process worked, and she was impressed, though a little upset that I was spending time doing this over extra studying. Over the next month, she told family members and friends about how I was able to make so many friends who contributed to this and that I could not do it without them. Two people compared me to President Obama, for I appealed to those who typically did not vote or the unlikely participants. I think my mom was proud of me.
I believed that if I won princess, I should act like a princess. I tried my best to be kind to everyone, smile at those who come my way, and help others as much as possible. The last thing I wanted was for people to think they voted for the sake of it. If I was extra kind, people would think I was extra special.
Fast forward to the next semester, when the formal festivities commenced. All of formal court (2 freshmen, 2 sophomores, 10 juniors, and 2 seniors) had to participate in a rally dance dressed by our friends. Lunch dance practice introduced me to the fellow sophomore boy, a popular white blonde who had little to say to me. Everyone else seemed to be friendly with the others; I felt left out. Everyone was friends with each other, and they probably wondered how I got here in the first place.
I suppose everyone leaves me out one way or another.
When the rally came, I felt like royalty despite being dressed like a sad clown with underwear on my head, kudos to my friend-sister Julianna. A crew of trampoline-jumping basketball players was going to perform during the rally. There was a seat with my name on it.
Soon, the rally started. The gym was blasted with the bass and loud melody of One (feat. Pharrell) by Swedish House Mafia as we waited for students to sit. The room was dark and filled with the screams and chatter of students. We were all excited. I did my silly dance, and the jumpers did tricks over our heads during their performance. The dance team performed their routine, something I anticipate, and having front row seats was comparable to actual royalty.
The next day, I woke up early. My mom took me to a hairdresser to curl my hair. The back was like a cascade. She fit the crown in my hair and ensured it would not fall out easily. I came home and immediately started working on makeup.
My freshly tailored dress was the last step. I call it the “Peacock dress”, or just “Peacock”. My extended family and I admired this dress for its intricate details and bright colors. Cousin Jennifer told me that I should choose this dress because other people probably will not wear it.
She was right. Other women wore dresses that I would have chosen otherwise, but no one wore any variant of my dress. At the dance, I got numerous compliments (along with dirty looks from those who were against me). I took it upon myself to smile at as many people as I could.
At the end of the experience, I walked down a crowd created aisle, next to Ryan (who almost looked as good as me) as the announcers presented me and included my aspirations for engineering. And then, that was it.
Looking back, I am glad I had this experience. It reminded me there was a point where I was the center of attention and well-loved by many. I know some may call this selfish, but there is nothing wrong with wanting the limelight.
I cannot stress enough that I owe it all to my friends at the time. Today, most of those friends are not as close to me for reasons such as they are sexist, they outed me from their group, and we grew apart.
I no longer hold myself to the princess standards, as I feel I am not obligated to make other people happy, and it makes me uncomfortable to smile at people who blatantly do not give me a second thought. (Should I mention that I don’t smile at boys anymore because I don’t trust their reactions?)
The process of running for princess also reminded me that I do have a competitive side that doesn’t accept anything lower than the best. A previous princess told me it was amazing that I made it to the final round for the only spot, but I responded with the fact that runner ups do not win. Maybe she doubted my victory; maybe it reinforced this idea that I wanted all the attention. But when the situation is analyzed, it makes some sense that I would be anxious about winning. I made myself vulnerable in front of a bunch of students and spent 95% of my effort looking for votes. If I did not win, I would be known as “that unpopular idiot who thought they could win and did all these stupid things for nothing”. I much preferred “that unpopular idiot who won and did all these stupid things but dammit I lost to her”.
By the way, that junior who ran? He didn’t win either of the 5 spots available to him, but he asked me about it two years later.
Other girls wore variants of the peacock dress the next year.
Other unusual candidates have run for court, but unfortunately, none have been successful (one of which who inspired me to do this). It is possible more students vote.
tl;dr I pissed off so many people with this princess thing that I think the effects still last and I love it. It would be wonderful to see the complete list of people who did not think I would win and another of those who I affected (in running for princess or voting).