Did you hear about this? Some mom in Killeen, Texas, rented a billboard for her daughter’s prom. More specifically, Mom rented the billboard as part of a campaign to get her daughter votes for prom queen. The headline alone was enough to elicit eyerolls from sea to shining sea.
The billboard went up on April 14th at an intersection near Harker Heights High School, and…the sign rotated, apparently. It didn’t take long for the Brandy’s mom, Tammy, to feel some of the backlash. Residents of the town and fellow classmates felt it was generally over-the-top, and that’s typically a good enough reason to light some torches, amirite?
At first, it wasn’t clear if this billboard was more for Brandy or her vicariously-living mother Tammy. According to Tammy, however, this was something her daughter was proud of, as she worked hard to gather votes, running a campaign of sorts during the weeks leading up to prom night.
Day said Brandy approached the race for prom queen like a real campaign, making hundreds of fliers at home, which she hung up at school and at local businesses in the area. (Day said Brandy’s classmates particularly liked one with a slogan, playing off the Victoria’s Secret tagline: “Guess who’s got Victoria’s Secret? If you want to find out, vote for Brandy Day!”)
Together, they canvassed the neighborhood, she said, asking local businesses to display fliers and sponsor her, and soliciting funds from friends, family and Day’s colleagues at the information technology company where she works. Brandy mentioned the billboard as a joke and her mom decided to follow through.
At worst, this seems like a story of jumbled priorities, and at best, perhaps a tale of a mother’s love for her daughter…a daughter who has been dealt an unfair hand in life. You see, Brandy was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at age three, and Tammy uses this to defend her decision for the billboard bonanza.
No one body wanted to hear the whole purpose of it. She’s never had a shining moment. Most of her life has been filled with pain and she keeps smiling,” Day said. “She needs to shine. She needs that wow factor.”
Brandy wore braces throughout her childhood, her mother said. She was teased for having braces on her legs, but after physical therapy, she was able to switch to wearing splints on her legs only at night, and then orthotics and now special sneakers with metal plates to correct her walk. Day said Brandy didn’t wear them to high school because she got sick of being teased, only wearing the shoes off-hours.
“Her friends still tease her about her walking because she walks bouncy,” Day said. “She has trouble putting her heels down.
And for a moment, my heart wrenches, because, OMG I’m SUCH A COLD HEARTED SNAKE for thinking poorly of this mother and daughter, right? She’s sick and her mom is just trying to ease some of that suffering with some prom hype. Surely she can’t be faulted for that.
Or, can she?
I spent some time wrestling with this, because as much as I felt for Brandy, I couldn’t quite reconcile her diagnosis as a means for this type of behavior. Of course, Tammy Day was certainly only trying to make her daughter happy the best way she knew how. But in the end, it all backfired. Brandy didn’t win the title of prom queen and, even worse, she continues to be teased about how much press the campaign received.
Both mother and daughter actually seem surprised by the reactions in the press. “She’s shocked. She’s speechless. I don’t think she really knows what to think. But I know she’s happy because she worked hard.” Tammy says.
Because they don’t see this as over the top behavior, I presume? Maybe this is exactly the problem. There’s something about this story that makes me wonder if Tammy actually embraces her daughter for who she is, cerebral palsy and all. Or maybe she’s harboring some guilt about it, and that’s why she went completely insane for Brandy’s prom. Whatever the intentions, I can’t help but feel some heartache for Brandy and her mom. Not because they didn’t win this ridiculous campaign, but because they don’t see it for what it is.
But, hell. Who am I to judge? I wore a mustache to my senior prom.