Pretty in Pink    

     During the planning and organization of HEF 2004 I had the pleasure of meeting the team of people at a salon named The Pink Papaya. During our initial introduction we discussed Sigma Mu’s mission in the CD community. They were very excited about having an organized group in Fayetteville. They had mentioned a charity event that they had started the in February 2004 called Pretty in Pink. It is a fund raising fashion show that raises funds for the Ozark Chapter of The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. Since Sigma Mu is always interested in helping out with charities, I said that we would like to help in any way that we could.
At that time they were not yet organized, so Miranda, the owner and founder of Pretty in Pink, told me to stay in touch and they would be happy to find us some way to help.

     In early January 2005, I received a message from Miranda that they were starting to get things moving for the fashion show. I was referred to the Susan G. Komen representative that was organizing the volunteers. Erin was very busy and we spent a lot of time playing email and phone tag. I finally made contact with her in early February. She had a list of tasks that were available for us, so we set up a meeting. Five Sigma Mu members met Erin and Sara at a local coffee shop on Sunday evening and discussed the different tasks available. The plan was still kind of loose, but since I had just come through the organizing of HEF, I knew that things would work out, in time.

     We were to report to the convention hall on Friday evening Feb 4, 2005,around 7:30pm to help get things setup and Silent Auction items sorted out. All of the Sigma Mu members decided to meet on the Fayetteville Square at 4:30 for an initial meeting and some dinner. We found a suitable restaurant and had a great meal. Of course we endeared the restaurant staff with our open attitude.

      As we returned to the Town Center facility the access walk was full of pick up trucks and trailers full of all kinds of things. We walked in and found our coordinators had made some adjustments. Erin was not going to be there, due to a family medical emergency. Sara was now our taskmistress. We were directed towards the trailers full of large wooden boxes that were going to be used as podiums for some stationary models to stand on. They varied in height, from about 3 ft to 5 ft. I received directions from, what I learned later was, Jordan Crowson, the clothing designer, a young man that seemed to know where the podiums needed to be. We all proceeded to unload and position the boxes.

      During the confusion of dragging these medium weight boxes to their desired positions, I was summoned to a small group of organizers. The two gentlemen introduced themselves as Pretty in Pink board members. They expressed concern that several of the people present were not comfortable with us being there, dressed enfemme. Now you have to understand that we were in working clothes, such as jeans and tops, but we still maintained a good presentation. We were still better dressed than most of the other women there. The more talkative of the two men explained that we were welcome to continue working in getting things set up on Friday and Saturday. He then said that we would need to adhere to the “dress code”, for the actual show. Since the female volunteers were to wear logo T- shirts and there we not any sizes that would fit a larger person, male or female, we would be required to wear the men’s version, in Male mode. That was a white button-down shirt and black pants.

      About this time some of our members headed for the door. I quickly called them back and expressed my views to the gentlemen, as graciously as I could, without striking them. I explained that we were very proud of who and what we were and it was highly unlikely that we would conform to their desires. I also said that I would need to hear all of this from Miranda, since she had never implied this. They kept insisting that we would need to comply, if we wanted to work during the fashion show. I kept insisting that this needed to be brought to Miranda’s attention, since she had invited us, and it was literally her show.

      They left and we regrouped, as well as we could. I ask all of the Sigma Mu members to press on with helping while I found Miranda and got here feelings. I found her shortly and explained to her what we had been told. She looked me straight in the eye and said “tell them to go suck eggs”. She had no problem with our arrangement of wearing a nice outfit to work during the show, since we had no T shirts. I returned to the members and relayed the message. With that answer we continued to set things up for the silent auction.

      Not much later a lady approached us and introduced herself as the legal representative for Pretty in Pink. She was very understanding and said that they, her and Miranda, had come up with a resolution to the conflict. Since Miranda could not afford to blow off the primary complainant, Jordan Crowson, the designer, she offered us complimentary tickets for the show. We would not be able to work during the show, but we were also going to be able to help out on Saturday prior to the show. This was acceptable to us, as it would let us wear something nice to the show as well as enjoy the refreshments. As workers we would not have been able to drink alcohol. I never did see or hear from either of the two “Board members”. After doing some research, it turns out that they were not “Board members” but committee members.

      On Saturday we showed up at noon and gave ourselves to the organizers. Most of us were directed to the area where they were putting together the centerpieces. One of the spouses was talented in Calligraphy so she went to the “sign making area”. The rest of us ended up standing among several buckets, wastebaskets and other tubs, full of roses. Our job was to strip the leaves off of the long stems and make them available to the flower arrangers. After we had enough stems stripped, we broke off the rest of the flower heads for more displays, as well as shredded some heads for the Runway. Fortunately, most of the roses were thorn less. I did say most!!! I am not sure that anyone was severely injured, but I know that if someone ever ask me if I would like to go strip rose, I am going to see what rose is, first. During all of this time we were visiting with the other organizers and volunteers. Everyone was very friendly.

     We finally finished all that there was to do so we headed for our homes to clean up and change for the evening’s event.
We returned to the Town Center that evening and found our seats. They were general admission, but none the less we were there. As I wound my way through the crowd I received lots of smiles and looks. I just kept smiling and moving. There were several ladies from the Pink Papaya there and we all got reacquainted. The pre show was spectacular!!! There were models with full body paint and hair styles in an African theme. There is no way to explain the look except to say that the hair was made up very wild looking and it was decorated with different natural accessories. The look was gorgeous!!

     The designers outfits were nice but not that overwhelming. They were, for the most part, a reflection of pre-war Austria. Lots of white satin with short sleeved jackets/capes were included.

     After the fashion show there was a live auction and the usual introductions and recognitions given. The show ended with the results of the silent auction. The show raised a total of $150,000 for the Komen Foundation. We were very happy to be able to have the privilege of being part of it.

      I feel that our presence there was very positive. We were thanked for our help by many of the other organizers and volunteers. I spoke personally with the two regional organizers from the Susan G Komen Foundation. They both were so gracious with their thanks and support, of our group. They did mention that they would be needing several volunteers for the Race for the Cure, later this Spring. That could be another story altogether.
    I did come to a personal conclusion, after thinking about the whole situation. I now feel that I am about as comfortable as I can be, with my femme attitude. I know that if I had had this same experience, with the two guys, a few short years ago, I would have probably just left the Town Center and not returned. This time I stood toe to toe with these guys and did not back off at all. I feel that it probably took them by surprise also, since I did not see them again. I did not loose my composure and was able to keep a positive attitude about the whole thing.
    All in all, I feel that our entire group had a very good time. Our work was much appreciated and we were able to educate a fairly large group of people in whom and what we are. I feel that this is some of the best outreach going, and Sigma Mu will be looking for more volunteer work to do. It is the best of both worlds, helping others in need and furthering our cause.
Jamie Renae

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