Tonight Shannon Fitzpatrick, a small 17-year-old from Saugus, Mass., with a short, stylish bob and wire-rimmed glasses, will don a size medium men's tuxedo and stroll onstage at her high school to compete against 11 of her male classmates for the title of "Mr. Saugus High School." According to today's Boston Globe, Fitzpatrick is the first girl to ever compete in the contest, which began as a satirical fundraiser for the Student Council 15 years ago.
The Globe reports that "mock male beauty pageants, poking fun at Miss America and their like, are common spirit-building fund-raisers at high schools in the Boston area. While boys don tuxedos and bikini tops, and show off talents such as making omelettes, girls often act as MC's, stage hands, and ticket sellers."
Fitzpatrick herself has worked the pageant for the past three years, operating the stage lights and even escorting an old boyfriend during the formalwear competition. When asked why she wanted to be on the other side of the stage this year, she told the Globe, "'It's a last-hurrah event for senior year. I wanted to have fun, like the boys. I didn't think I needed any reason beyond that.'"
Unsurprisingly, not all of Fitzpatrick's classmates are thrilled and the reigning Mr. Saugus High personally asked her not to enter the competition. But overall, Saugus High seems to have an unusual amount of gender-bending tolerance: Last fall, Samantha Barnes, a senior, played tackle and guard on the boys' varsity football team, and Adam Izzicupo, a current junior, is the goalie for the girls' field hockey team.
Fitzpatrick mostly plans to stick to the conventions of the pageant, wearing a tuxedo for the formalwear competition, boxer shorts and baggy jeans for casual wear, and a bikini top and Bermuda shorts during the swimsuit segment. But during the talent competition there'll be no card tricks or baton twirling for her. Instead, Fitzpatrick intends to recite "Grand Canyon," a song by Ani DiFranco that includes the line, "Why can't all decent men and women call themselves feminists?"
We'll have to wait to see if she takes home the tinsel crown, but one thing's for sure: The girl's got our vote.