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Beauty (and title) only go so deep.
July 8, 2013 4:24 PM   Subscribe

Having your phone taken away and using a bucket for a bathroom for even a single day might sound like a nightmare to the average teenager, but for Eleana Frangedis, winner of Miss Teen America 2012, it turns out to be a much needed respite. Miss Teen America finds freedom, for a day.
posted by Askiba (59 comments total) 38 users marked this as a favorite

 
Ugh, that's so sad. So glad I had parents who gave me the freedom to grow up and be independent! Not allowed to camp out for 5 nights? Living off-campus so you can entertain Mom during college weekends? Bleech.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 4:35 PM on July 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I was prepared to jeer but now I am sad.
posted by Slothrup at 4:39 PM on July 8, 2013 [28 favorites]


Mom's gonna be thrilled to read that story.
posted by 2N2222 at 4:39 PM on July 8, 2013 [11 favorites]


reading about her parents.. so sad :(
posted by mrbill at 4:40 PM on July 8, 2013


Wow, sad story. I hope that she is able to do well in college and find her niche.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 4:41 PM on July 8, 2013


Not even allowed to have her own feelings... ('The divorce was hard on me.' 'No it wasn't.')

That camp must have seemed like paradise indeed.
posted by BigHeartedGuy at 4:41 PM on July 8, 2013 [15 favorites]


This is not the story I was expecting to read. Wow. Thanks for posting this.
posted by pemberkins at 4:42 PM on July 8, 2013 [9 favorites]


Poor kid. Shows how you can seem to have everything on a superficial level and not really have what you need.
posted by Jernau at 4:47 PM on July 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


BigHeartedGuy, that exchange caught me too. Also, that her mom was "too busy" to remember Elena's childhood. Poor girl, I hope she gets some freedom in college.
posted by Phire at 4:50 PM on July 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


On the way back up the hill, counselor Bethany dropped back to walk beside Eleana. "What about before you were Miss Teen? Did you have friends then, when you were just you?"

Eleana shook her head. She had people she hung out with, but she and her mother agreed they weren't good for her. "I had to learn to distance myself."
shiver
posted by Navelgazer at 4:55 PM on July 8, 2013 [14 favorites]


Jesus, that was sad.
posted by rtha at 4:57 PM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah. That... was not the story I was expecting to read. Heartbreaking.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:17 PM on July 8, 2013


Wow, really, really sad.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 5:18 PM on July 8, 2013


Not even allowed to have her own feelings... ('The divorce was hard on me.' 'No it wasn't.')

Yeah, that was appalling.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:20 PM on July 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


When a girl who was beaten by her drug dealer feels sorry for you, well, maybe you're not as well-off as you appear. I hope she finds the opportunity to be herself some day.
posted by tommasz at 5:21 PM on July 8, 2013 [13 favorites]


From the "Meet Miss Teen America" page of the pageant website:
I spoke to one of Eckerd's outdoor all girls therapeutic programs in Floral City, 840 acres of woods! I was a little nervous going in to speak, but when I finished, the reactions from each of the girls and adults was indescribable. I not only inspired them, they too inspired me; so much that I returned few weeks later for an extended overnight stay (in the woods)! First time ever camping and what an amazing experience it was. During my extended visit to Eckerd's therapeutic camp E Nini Hassee, I was shadowed by a Tampa Bay Times reporter and photographer. The story will come out in July as a special edition of the Tampa Bay Times magazine that is dedicated to stories about amazing things teen girls/ young women are doing.
posted by ocherdraco at 5:32 PM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


When I finished reading this I had a lump in my throat. Then I got this big wide frown on my face, and before I knew it I had sniffed twice and started to cry.

Poor kid. Like a lot of people, she'll have a chance to fix the things in her own life that her parents fucked up in theirs. She seems resilient. I hope she makes the best of it.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 5:36 PM on July 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


Finally, Eleana's mom relented. She could go for one night.

That's big of the mother of an 18 year old.

I came to get my snark on, but instead, like Slothrup, I am sad, also, like pemberkins I thank you for posting this.
posted by cjorgensen at 5:39 PM on July 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


This was an eye-opener. I hope Eleana has the skills she needs to get a life for herself when she finally escapes her Momster.
posted by Lynsey at 5:41 PM on July 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


I was thinking this was going to be a story about Miss Teen America and her platform advocating for children's services and foster care. I was expecting a story that contrasted the girls at the school with the beauty queen - talk about a right turn! FAU is about 4 hours drive from Tarpon Springs; I really hope the distance keeps her mother at bay long enough for Eleana to find some friends at college.
posted by bluefly at 5:45 PM on July 8, 2013


I read the comments here before reading the article. But the part where the girl who was beaten by her drug dealer having honest compassion for Elena made me stop reading because I was just...i don't know...verklempt?

Just the other day some asshat said to me that not everyone deserves compassion.

That girl could have been bitter and angry and rude that some fancy pants pretty girl was there to have her picture taken and stuff. But no - she was the best of human by just saying "wow that must be so hard." And meaning it.

That one little exchange gives me hope for the human race.
posted by sio42 at 5:50 PM on July 8, 2013 [37 favorites]


God damn.

It seems to me that Eleana's got an awfully good heart. May it serve her well and help her start build some lasting friendships.

And somebody give her a hug, already.
posted by Songdog at 6:02 PM on July 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


I spoke to one of Eckerd's outdoor all girls therapeutic programs in Floral City, 840 acres of woods! I was a little nervous going in to speak, but when I finished, the reactions from each of the girls and adults was indescribable. I not only inspired them, they too inspired me; so much that I returned few weeks later for an extended overnight stay (in the woods)! First time ever camping and what an amazing experience it was. During my extended visit to Eckerd's therapeutic camp E Nini Hassee, I was shadowed by a Tampa Bay Times reporter and photographer. The story will come out in July as a special edition of the Tampa Bay Times magazine that is dedicated to stories about amazing things teen girls/ young women are doing.

holy god Eleana's mum is going to be so fucking mad at that article

hee
posted by Sebmojo at 6:18 PM on July 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


We all have our crosses to bear, even beauty queens.

I thought it was a decent story, was left with the phrase ... 'Only slightly less famious then never get involved in a land war in Asia is, don't piss off the person who may be writing about you'. The mom certainly came off really poorly.

I suspect the dad was not much better given the level of estrangement happening.

Finally, given the parental micromanagement present I'd say she may b e a prime candidate for a tulmultious 20s. Here's hoping she survives well, there are some real glimmers there.
posted by edgeways at 6:23 PM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I would like to read more. The article makes me sad for Eleana, but I also feel like, "Wow, she seems like a really really decent kid for having such a fucking asshole for a parent."
posted by MoonOrb at 6:26 PM on July 8, 2013 [9 favorites]


A wanna be tiger mom! I bet she has read that book one time or the other.
posted by TheLittlePrince at 6:45 PM on July 8, 2013


It's amazing how everything ever is always the mom's fault, especially if the mom makes the mistake of being haughty with a reporter.
posted by gingerest at 6:49 PM on July 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


God damnit. I read this expecting to be snide, and I know I probably should be sad, and I am. But mostly I'm absolutely livid. That's child abuse, pure and simple. I really really hope that when that poor girl goes away to college she never ever returns unless its on her own terms.
posted by Aversion Therapy at 6:55 PM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


My parents weren't rich enough to pull off quite this degree of isolation but it still ended up with me not talking to them for 17 years.
posted by localroger at 7:00 PM on July 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


This article took an interesting - and to me, unexpected - turn. I hope that young woman doesn't suffer as a result of what was written. Her mother is not going to like it one bit, and she may choose to take it out on Eleana.
posted by k8lin at 7:02 PM on July 8, 2013 [16 favorites]


Ugh. I can't really say much about the father, but the mother comes off as a narcissistic parent. I hope the daughter has the strength and support system to pull herself from that situation.
posted by tservo at 7:12 PM on July 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


I miss camp. My father also insisted that I keep the few friends I made at arm's length until the end of high school. I was homeschooled in sixth grade (and hated it). And while I got to go to prom, I couldn't even ride there with my date or stay out afterward. While the details differ, the restrictiveness and strangeness of my upbringing definitely mirrored hers. Camp was an amazing escape.

College was actually kind of a letdown after the various summer camps and programs I attended to get away from home, because there weren't any rules about being open-minded and/or dealing with each other in constructive, positive ways. My first year of college reminded me so much of the experience portrayed in Tom Wolfe's I Am Charlotte Simmons.

I also got mightily burned out less than halfway through, because I stayed on campus and took classes year-round to avoid ever having to move back home... One way or another, Eleana's probably going to have it hard for a while, even after she gets out of that incredibly restrictive house.

I hope she makes it through all of this OK.
posted by limeonaire at 7:18 PM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I hope that young woman doesn't suffer as a result of what was written. Her mother is not going to like it one bit, and she may choose to take it out on Eleana.

She is going to suffer or she is going to suffocate. Unless lightning strikes the harpy mother there really isn't a third option.
posted by localroger at 7:23 PM on July 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


If this were askme I'd be all "Therapy! Boundaries!"

I hope she finds her way sooner rather than later.
posted by rtha at 7:28 PM on July 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


My gosh, what an incredibly sad story.

Edgeways, based on what her dad has written online, he seems pretty ripped up about it... who knows.

Poor gal; hope she gets strong enough at some point to push back and live according to her own wishes.
posted by NorthernAutumn at 8:25 PM on July 8, 2013


I recognize this dynamic in family members I'm close to. Mom didn't have a happy marriage, so she essentially treats her daughter like a spouse. Every relationship formed with someone else, every step away from the nest, is a betrayal.

Eventually Eleana will learn to differentiate herself. It won't be easy.

Remember, everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.
posted by dry white toast at 8:27 PM on July 8, 2013 [11 favorites]


The movie Tangled keeps coming to mind...
posted by small_ruminant at 8:34 PM on July 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


I was curious about her dad, so I googled his name. I found his twitter account and am starting to wish I didn't. I know it's one-sided, but it's pretty heart-breaking.
posted by Ideal Impulse at 8:36 PM on July 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


I second localroger. I really root for the lightning.

By the standards of my day, I had what would have been referred to as helicopter parents. I didn't get out much (lived in the boonies and didn't drive, was a nerd), had un-cool parents, was pretty sheltered and didn't start learning life skills until I moved out for college, which at least I was allowed to do.

But the parents these days... even my mom is all, too much. And this harpy mom.... so evil.

I feel for this girl, it will take a lifetime for her to try to be like everyone else with their freedom. Every inch she can get will be a battle of screaming, guilt, and hell. She'll be a perpetual slow learner and behind everyone else and in therapy for life. Fighting her mom for air every second.

I hate her mother. That woman ain't doing it out of love either. At least I was loved, if a little overcontrolled.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:36 PM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I found his twitter account and am starting to wish I didn't.

...

So she is stuck between a clingy dad and a controlling mom, ai yi yi.

reading that Twitter was not so much heartbreaking for me as... borderline desperate/creepy/something.
posted by edgeways at 8:42 PM on July 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


That twitter account makes me wonder if there isn't a CoS angle to this that we're not seeing yet.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:42 PM on July 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Interesting. I think it's great that Eleana somehow knew this experience was what she craved and needed. That instinct will go a long way toward helping her figure things out in life. Also, I'm a big proponent of camp and outdoor living. It can straighten one's priorities and is peacefully satisfying in a way few other things are, especially when your life is terribly confused and your priorities terribly mixed with other people's. It has helped a lot of people and I hope her, too.
posted by Miko at 8:48 PM on July 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm trying to keep in mind that her parents are each fighting their own battles, too.

Her mom was once a little girl, with her own set of parental fuckedupedness. Her dad, too.

But shit. Grow up. Sooner, rather than later. Therapy and boundaries for everyone.
posted by rtha at 8:49 PM on July 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


I have a friend whose mother was even worse than this. Her father had died in a car wreck when she was very young and her mother became pathologically protective and involved in her daughter's life. She also neglected her own career and their income and standard-of-living slowly fell, although the mother half lived in a fantasy world where she would try to live as they used to live, going through money foolishly. When they moved to a new city when my friend was about twelve, the mother felt that the schools weren't good enough and so she just didn't enroll her. She didn't homeschool her, either.

I met her when she was sixteen and I was twenty. I waited tables at the nicest restaurant in town, it had a piano bar. Her mother, who had previously been quite successful, was singing. My friend was sitting at the patio bar while her mother performed. She seemed both older and younger than her actual age.

Her mother controlled almost every aspect of her life, she was allowed only limited contact with me and she had only very few other friends, also people she had met via her mother. Because she had no independent life, not even school.

Yet she was amazingly resilient. She got a GED and began taking classes at the community college. They moved again when some money came in — the money was spent renting a fancy house and a baby grand piano and on entertaining. After about eighteen months, it was gone. They moved into a cheap rental house and my friend began working full-time to support her and her mother.

My friend seemed quite amazingly well-adjusted and it always astonished me. I worried that there might be things going on within her that I couldn't see, but it was also possible that she was just very resilient. But I didn't expect her mother to ever let her go — she talked as if they'd always live together and she used the usual bag of tricks of guilt and such.

About this time I lost track of her for a couple of years. Then, we met by chance and I learned to my surprise that she'd moved away to go to university full-time. And she seemed very happy.

She got a degree, started a career, and then eventually became a fairly successful Hollywood producer. We remain in touch (though only infrequently).

A few years after I met her I was talking with her cousin and I asked him why in the world the family allowed the mother to get away with keeping my friend out of school. He didn't have a good answer for this, he said that people were concerned but that they dithered over it. It amazed me then, and amazes me now, how relatively easy it was for a parent to so distort their child's life outside of the things that we think are socially required for parenting without anyone stepping in and doing anything about it.

But I've also always thought of her as an example of how idiosyncratic are individual responses to abuse and the like. She's one of the most good-hearted people I've known (don't know how well that's survived the movie business) and with a very strong sense of self in the face of a mother who smothered and controlled her. That doesn't mean that another person in the same situation won't be very badly hurt by it, and it certainly doesn't excuse what her mother did. Because her mother was monstrous, in my opinion. But I admire my friend and I'm glad of her example.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 10:05 PM on July 8, 2013 [9 favorites]


This was very sad, and I hope very much that Eleana gets her freedom someday soon. Shame on her selfish mother and ridiculous father. She deserves better.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 11:03 PM on July 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Her parents are both giving me the same vibe Lindsay Lohan's do. I really wish this biright young woman the best.
posted by Kloryne at 12:00 AM on July 9, 2013


I am so happy she is going to college.
I hope that this is not a situation, as so many are, where she is going to be dependent on her parents financial support to stay in school. I hope that if she is, she will be able to do the hard task of going to the cheapest choice around and working odd jobs so she can do it herself.

The nice thing about this article is that this kid will always have it; an outside observer saying, yo, clinically, this shit is fucked up. Because sometimes you need that to stay free.

And I hope all of those kids at the camp survive and thrive.
posted by angrycat at 1:09 AM on July 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


That was pretty bleak.

I'm consoled by picturing the moment when Lane DeGregory, still miffed at being palmed off with a beauty queen fluff piece, realised that she had a half-decent story about a decent kid, and the chance to do a precise, thorough hatchet job on the godawful Ms. Giannakopoulos.

I found his twitter account and am starting to wish I didn't.

A horrorcherry to top the sadnesscake.
posted by jack_mo at 1:16 AM on July 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


I recognize this dynamic in family members I'm close to. Mom didn't have a happy marriage, so she essentially treats her daughter like a spouse. Every relationship formed with someone else, every step away from the nest, is a betrayal.

My mom did this to my sister. She moved her family to florida so she could get distance from her. Guess where my parents are moving to next year?
posted by empath at 1:36 AM on July 9, 2013


Covert incest.

I have some unfortunate experience with this, as does my husband (at 12 or 13, his mom got therapy, came to him and his brother and said, "I'm supposed to stop treating you guys like my husband.") It's really, really hard and this article rang a lot of bells for me--including the caring and empathetic way Eleana deals with others. She's probably used to acting in ways that meet her mother's needs, not her own.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 4:42 AM on July 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


At first I was like, "Ha ha, poor little rich girl", but then as I was reading the (very moving article) I could only say, "Jesus. Poor girl."

Thanks for posting.
posted by math at 4:43 AM on July 9, 2013


I have some unfortunate experience with this, as does my husband (at 12 or 13, his mom got therapy, came to him and his brother and said, "I'm supposed to stop treating you guys like my husband.") It's really, really hard and this article rang a lot of bells for me--including the caring and empathetic way Eleana deals with others. She's probably used to acting in ways that meet her mother's needs, not her own.

God, it really is Tangled, isn't it? Having a four year old daughter that's been on high repeat and it's always struck me as having a very precise depiction of a dreadful yet plausible mother/daughter dynamic.
posted by Sebmojo at 4:50 AM on July 9, 2013


I never like to see stereotypes validated, but wow. The line that stood out to me was:

"at my house we're not allowed to talk above a whisper after 8 p.m."

/shiver
posted by mrgrimm at 9:57 AM on July 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


localroger: I hope that young woman doesn't suffer as a result of what was written. Her mother is not going to like it one bit, and she may choose to take it out on Eleana.

She is going to suffer or she is going to suffocate. Unless lightning strikes the harpy mother there really isn't a third option.
Or she can leave home.

Maybe this outing has shown her that she can leave the nest and not die.
posted by IAmBroom at 10:41 AM on July 9, 2013


I noticed the Greek last names...there is a bit of a cultural stereotype about Greek mothers being allupinyobizness. But normally that stereotype comes from love. What broke my heart was the combination of the ultracontrolling and the obvious disregard of this young girl's personhood and real needs. Yeah, Mama is gonna be sooooo pissed at this article. But maybe getting it out in the open like that, getting some disinfectant sunshine in, will help Eleana in the long run. I sure hope so.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 12:25 PM on July 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Or she can leave home.

Mom has already bought her a condo for college residence so she can stay over and keep an eye on. And it won't stop there; see empath's comment above.

Emilia probably does not consciously understand how pathological her attachment to Eleana is -- I'm quite certain my own mother didn't. She was completely immune to attempts to explain what was wrong. In my case at the end of an escalating series of affronts it took telling the lawyer they hired (and paid for out of my personal savings, which they'd stolen) that I was an orphan. Even after that it took my father nearly a year to get her to admit my emancipation was beyond their control and to move on.

As my mother was Emilia is clearly deriving her own sense of self-actualization from the "knowledge" that she is needed to take care of Eleana; any decision or statement by Eleana that contradicts her in any way neatly becomes proof of the need for more of her guidance. But it is actually Emilia who needs Eleana, and you would probably be amazed at the things which become thinkable to a person that obsessed when they don't get their way.

I know I was.
posted by localroger at 12:36 PM on July 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


Maybe this outing has shown her that she can leave the nest and not die.

Hopefully, but she'll definitely have a hard time learning how to function as an adult alone when her parents don't teach her this stuff (because they don't want an independent child). I had to move out AND if I was lucky, find other people to teach me things like how to wash dishes without a dishwasher in college. Good times, good times.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:43 PM on July 9, 2013


Maybe this outing has shown her that she can leave the nest and not die.

This is exactly why I spoke up about camp environments. This is what they are great at imparting. You see a bunch of people your age, in a context where they are given responsibility and understood to have competence - celebrated, even, for their individual competence. Celebrated and supported for personal, physical, and emotional risk-taking. Supported in sharing confidences and forming relationships within appropriate boundaries that show you closeness doesn't have to equal enmeshedness. It can really be empowering to see yourself as on your own, looking at the stars by yourself, realizing you can be far away and still safe and cared for, making your own choices within a very intentional environment. It may sound ridiculous that I think she will never forget that one night and will continue to look for it constantly in her life - but I think it's true. I have experienced some of it myself.
posted by Miko at 7:05 PM on July 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Maybe this outing has shown her that she can leave the nest and not die.

This statement misconstrues the dynamic. It's not that Eleana feels incapable of dealing with the real world without her mother. Exactly the opposite. She's been conditioned to think her mother can't survive without her. And as I said before, that to establish her independence would be a betrayal.
posted by dry white toast at 8:06 PM on July 9, 2013


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