The Beauty of Pain
by Khadijah Iman
IZZIE (16, Native/Black/LGBTQ+) ambitious and diligent wins the regional beauty pageant and sets her sights on nationals. She meets her antagonist BELLE, her girl crush KAY, and her infamous instructor KELLY KINGSTON at her first national pageant practice. While at one of her practices, Izzie faints and startles everyone. She goes to DR. COLLIN GRAHAM. He tells Izzie and her mother EVA that she has cancer and she should not compete in Miss Teen USA. Izzie tries to convince Eva that she can do chemo and go to pageant practices/compete. Eva gives her a firm no. As Izzie continues to push, Eva cracks and lets her go back to pageant practices.
Izzie keeps her cancer a secret from everyone in fear of getting bullied by Belle, sympathy votes from the national pageant judges, or even worse benched in fear that she won’t be able to deliver at the pageant. While in chemo, Izzie meets Nayree, a young aspiring artist, and forms a close knit friendship with her. They become like sisters in a short amount of time. Eva and Nayree’s mother PENELOPE grow close as they bond over the meaning of prayer, God, and Eva’s unpublished book titled “The Beauty of Pain” about the loss of her husband and the toll it took on her and Izzie.
Izzie continues to suffer under the torment of Belle while growing closer to Kay. She also experiences severe anxiety and depression and goes to therapy. Nayree loses her battle to cancer, sending Izzie on a downward spiral. She shuts down and drops out of the pageant at the last minute. Kay convinces her to keep fighting for the national win she wants. She does just that as she convinces the Pageant Board to let her back into the competition. Belle realizes how terrible she’s been after catching Izzie in a moment of weakness. She apologizes for everything. They connect on a deeper level that neither saw coming.
Izzie is crowned Miss Teen USA but has a seizure and is rushed to the hospital. After spending some time in a seizure induced coma, Izzie finally wakes up. Eva publishes her manuscript after previously receiving Izzie’s blessing to do so. Izzie gets the great news that she’s in partial remission.
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