Tulle Skirts and Tiaras: Being a princess is harder than it looks

Danielle Deraleau, Featured Columnist

      I felt like a Disney Princess. As I stared in my hotel room mirror, I started to reconsider journalism for a career at Cinderella’s palace. My white ball gown laced up delicately in the back, white gloves stretched from my fingertips to just above my elbows, and a sparkling tiara sat atop my meticulously curled hair. It was somewhat reminiscent of my dress-up days as a child. But now it was for real.

     The Plano Symphony Debutante Ball was about to start.

     After a year of classes, events and practices, the program was coming to a close with this grand finale. I was prepared for a fun night with dinner and dancing. It was going to be perfect; everyone I loved was going to be there. But there was just one thing…the bow.

     It hadn’t really dawned on me until that moment. I was about to have to bow in front of more than 400 people.

     It sounds simple enough, right? Bow and walk off the stage. But it’s not that easy. The “bow” is really a dance move meant to be executed with grace and poise. In Texas, the deb has to descend completely to the floor, then bow from the waist, her head looking up until she’s as low as she can be, and then her head dips. It’s definitely possible to fall when doing it, and neither I nor the other 18 debs wanted to bring that kind of embarrassment upon ourselves.

     Later that night I was outside of the ballroom, talking to my family and everyone who had come to see me. As I was hugging my grandma, taking pictures with my sister and laughing with my two best friends, my nerves started to well up inside me. I thought of my three and a half inch heels and pictured all sorts of awful scenarios. I had been telling everyone I wasn’t nervous, and I stubbornly held onto that answer, but how could I not be a little insecure?

     When the doors to the ballroom opened and everyone took his or her seat, I joined the rest of the debs lining up behind the stage. They all chatted and whispered nervously, and the buzz of their voices filled my ears. I fluffed my skirt, and looked at my dad. He was going to be walking me out onto the stage, as was tradition at the ball. He smiled at me reassuringly. “I’ll give you some words of wisdom before I leave the stage,” he said.

     I heard the feedback of a microphone being switched on, and the voice of the debutante director starting her speech drifted behind the stage. All of the young girls in white ball gowns hushed. No more joking now.

     The speech that had seemed so long in rehearsal earlier took only a few seconds on this night. The first girl was introduced before I knew it. I was fifth in line, and as I watched the first four girls bow successfully I felt a little better. But not by much.

     My dad and I inched closer and closer to the steps of the stage. I took a deep breath, though it wasn’t that easy with my tightly laced dress.

     “Presenting Miss Danielle Nicole Deraleau,” I heard

     My dad and I took our place at a centered “x.” A spotlight shone on us. Through its glare I could see the many seats and tables, all of them filled with expectant guests. I took my eyes to the back of the room where chairs were lined up for the debs to sit after they came off the stage. “I want to be there,” I thought to myself.

     The announcer read a small biography about me. I was too focused on staying calm to catch more than bits and pieces of it. When she gave my dad his queue to leave, he gave me a kiss on the cheek. Then, in my ear, he whispered, “Go Stars!” before making his exit.

     I barely managed to suppress my laughter.

     Tanner, my honor guard, took his place on the stage. Although I usually smiled at him before I bowed, this time I didn’t want to look at anyone. The audience was silent.

     Slowly I lifted my arms into what a dancer would call first position and spread them out to second. I did all the steps of the bow slowly and as gracefully as possible, lowering myself to the ground, then finally leaning forward and dipping my head, as our instructor had taught us.

     And then I realized I was done.

     Now my smile was genuine. I turned to Tanner. He took my hand and helped me up, looped my right arm with his left. We walked down the long runway toward the end of the stage.

     Right then, there was only one thing on my mind.

      “I’m really glad that’s over,” I breathed.