Seaside Beauties

My response to dVerse Poets Pub OpenLinkNight #176

For tonight’s Open Link I have reworked an old poem I wrote as a bit of fun last October about seaside beauty contests, which fascinated me when I was a child on day trips with my grandmother. I was reminded of it when I looked out of the window at another grey, drizzly day.


On a chilly, wet July afternoon,

Attendants are unfolding a platoon

Of stripy deckchairs on the pier.

Under sagging sunshades or in see-through

Plastic macs, holidaymakers stare

At a bevy of beauties in bathing suits

With carefully coiffured hair

Counting goose-bumps on mottled skin.

The compere and resident comedian

Approaches the stage with an audacious grin,

Clears his throat, taps the microphone,

And the seaside beauty contest begins.

Teetering on high-heeled, sling-back shoes,

Fluttering false eyelashes against the drizzle,

Teenage girls face cheers and boos

As mascara runs and tempers sizzle.

To an impressionable child of six or seven,

Unaware of nineteen sixties feminism,

Such a glamorous parade was heaven

And an unattainable ambition

For a skinny, bespectacled girl,

Sandy-haired and without a curl.


© Kim M. Russell, 2016

Seaside Beauties

Image found on


35 thoughts on “Seaside Beauties

  1. As living in a Sussex coastal town as a young thing, this brought back memories. I was bespectacled too I had no illusions about becoming a beauty queen but did hold out hope of joining Pans People…
    Kind regards
    Anna :o]

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Didn’t we all want to join Pan’s People? Where in Sussex did you grow up – my grandfather was originally from Sussex – there’s even a place called Sayers Common. We’re related to Tom Sayers the pugilist, who was from Brighton Way. I come down to visit my best friend in Bexhill sometimes and I had friends in Pagham, too. I love Sussex..


      1. When I was aged 4-11, my family lived in Bognor, twas a pretty wealthy town then and maybe still is. The state schools were superb and yearly, we were provided with a plant by the council and encouraged to nurture it. One year I won second prize but was miffed because my sister came first – she had swapped hers with mine and being younger I couldn’t argue with that. Those days we respected our elders, even if they were older children.
        We lived on Chichester Road and could view the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run as it passed through this road. My brother and I wrote down the numbers on the plates for posterity – kids did things like this then. We also had our I-Spy books and spent many happy hours spying!
        I think there was a wonderful and happy innocence to childhood then and I don’t think I am just recalling good memories. Apart from the warning not to take sweets from strange men – we worried about nothing.
        My dad worked in Chichester as a legal executive and until we could afford a car – a Morris Minor – he cycled to work. I can still picture him with his bicycle clips and the Russian hat he wore in winter to keep his head warm.
        Happy days!
        Kind regards
        Anna :o]

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I had a friend from Pagham and we went for days out in Bognor most summers! In fact, my ex-sister-in-law lives down that way now. I remember those I-Spy books too. Yes, happy days! All the best, Kim 😉


  2. I really enjoyed this, Kim. I loved watching beauty pageants when I was a girl but we watched them on tv…not by the seaside. I guess I did dream of being a beauty when I grew up too. What gets to me is that we still have beauty pageants in this day and age.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t know of any here and I haven’t seen any on TV, but I think they might have them in holiday camps – we still have places like Butlins in the UK. It is very outdated now, thank goodness.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. You took me right there Kim, watching those beauties like a child. But I agree, to a young lady without a big curve body or curl, it can be unattainable. Thank goodness, we grow out of it.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Contrary to remarks of other folks, I find much to like in this. it was a happy time and I think of how many young girls strutted themselves in hope of winning, of getting money, of getting a scholarship. A friend of mine actually was able to go to college because of a couple of these pageants. She was a beauty with talent. her major? Biomedical engineering. Thus to naysayers. Good piece of work.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Late to read……not too late to enjoy!
    ah the bygone era — but wait! It’s still happening today — young girls assailed by media and perfect (photo shopped) bodies on parade. Ah that the mascara could be dripping on all the imagery we place before our girls so they would know, it’s all a magic wand created for …. what? The real beauty lies in the bespectacled little girl with big glasses and a bigger heart! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. When I was a child, I was quite fascinated by beauty pageants, too and often daydreamed of being a beauty queen myself. Even if I have the beauty and form for such contests (I have none), I do not think I would want to be in one now. I think it is harrowing to be looked at as an art piece to be judged.

    Liked by 1 person

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