"Saoirse, why don't you tell us about yourself?"
Before I even start speaking, I hear the judges' pens scribbling. My voice catches in my throat.
Out of the corner of my eye, I see the beady little red light watching my every move. The lights are a little blinding. I hesitate.
"My name is Saoirse Clodagh McKinley. I was born and raised in the beautiful New York City." I pause to flash a dazzling smile. "in my spare time, I play violin, tutor underprivileged children, and donate time working with the local animal shelters."
The judges let out various two-toned murmurs that make me question my every move.
"Ah, okay, tell us about your feelings toward..." he looks down at his papers. "Pageantry. What do you think about the pageants you compete in?"
I falter again. This wasn't one of the potential questions. Nothing of the sort had come up on the list of possible questions on the interview. Current events, politics, gender equality, even abortion were on the list. But pageantry?
"I believe that pageants give girls the opportunity to let their inner beauty shine," I say, trying to answer the question as lightly as possible.
After a few second pause, another judge pipes in. "Do you mean to say that your inner beauty might not otherwise shine?"
"No, no, I'm just as much myself now that I would be anywhere else," I say, an edge rising to my voice.
"So, you are saying that the other girls do not? Are you implying that you are better than your competitors?"
I'm getting annoyed and confused now. I thought these interviews were only supposed to last five minutes at most.
"I never said that," I say defensively. "It's just that in no other circumstance would a girl need to parade around onstage in a bikini and stilettos. I've never worn more makeup in my life outside of these. And no person has ever made me feel so judged, sexualized, and objectified before than this fucking pageant!"
I think they gasp before I do. They realize it all way before me. With a sickly sweet smile, a judge turns off the camera.
"Thank you for your time, Saoirse. You may leave now."
I go numb as I get out of my chair. But I turn back, give a smile as fake as half the contestants here, and say, "Thank you for your consideration."
Yet I know the only thing that they're considering is if they should make me last place in the contest, or if they should make me second place, to really rub salt in the wound.
I slam the door on my way out.