This Doesn’t Suit Me

Senior girl wears suit in show choir


Senior Bailey Tupper hits her routine.

Annaliese Punt, News Editor

People are either accepting or completely judgmental to one another in high school. Breaking the status quo is something most students don’t do, as they are afraid of how their peers will react. For senior Bailey Tupper, the process of breaking out of her shell was brutal, but the outcome was nothing short of amazing.

After playing percussion her middle school years and watching her brother’s girlfriend participate in the Millard West show choir group West in the Groove, she learned she was drawn to music. During her freshman year she decided to follow the show choir groups to all of their competitions and shows, and ultimately obtained the role of a ‘roadie.’

“My job was to help with costume changes and bring out stage props between each performance,” Tupper said. “I was completely involved in the shows.”

For three full years, she would continue to stay behind the curtains, watching her friends perform for a huge audience, something she wished one day she could do. But, the one thing holding her back wasn’t stage frights or the feeling of not being good enough, it was the fear of not being able to be herself.

Starting high school, Tupper felt as though she wasn’t fitting the criteria of most girls. Girls walked around in leggings, Uggs and Pink sweatshirts. Looking down at herself, she saw a pair of Nike shorts and an old sweatshirt from her brother’s closet.

“I wore a dress to my freshman Homecoming and I knew then that I needed to stop following the crowd,” Tupper said. “I began with cutting my hair, and I let everyone know I was no longer living for them, but for myself.”

Little did most people know, the year before her freshman year she came out to her mom. Transitioning from that into high school would be a tricky task, but the support from both her family and friends is what helped her through it.

“Coming out was one of the scariest moments of my life,” Tupper said. “It was a breath of fresh air when they reassured me they would be by my side no matter what.”

Being a roadie her freshman year gave her a sense of comfort in a way. She instantly gained over 50 friends that would follow her throughout her high school years. Although she enjoyed traveling to Nationals in Nashville, Tennessee with them and spending her after-school hours watching them practice, she only wished she could jump up on stage.

She craved to belt out a note in front of an audience, but the thought of wearing a sparkly dress with the other girls didn’t suit her. After three years of watching and waiting, she finally grew the nerve to try out for show choir. Before going through the whole process of learning the routines and notes, she made sure she would be able to be herself on stage if she made a group.

“One day I pulled Mr. B out of class and basically just said ‘hey, I want to be myself on stage, and wearing a dress is not me,’’ Tupper said. “I know I wouldn’t completely blend in with the guys on stage, but at least I would be comfortable.”

Besides a couple years back when the show choir group Uptown Girls performed a number in tuxedo jackets, a girl wearing the boys’ outfits was something completely new. Choir director Zach Bjornsen was the first say in whether there could be a little change.

“It was a difficult decision in the fact that there are multiple layers to it, we had to get permission from a lot of people,” Bjornsen said. “Everybody in the show choir department had to be on the same page in what we believe and what our philosophy is.”

Bjornsen had never been approached with a question like that before, the newness of it is what threw him off. After talking to the rest of the show choir groups and directors, he was pleased to tell Tupper that he was completely fine with her wearing a suit instead of a dress.

“Whoever you are is whoever you are,” Bjornsen said. “We welcome everybody and all forms of life, that’s why it was such an easy decision.”

Although everyone from the music department welcomed and encouraged her, the last acceptance had to be from the principal and activities director. The main reason they had to meet with the school authorities is because the topic is a sensitive one, which could cause some future troubles. They quickly came to the conclusion that Tupper would be able to express her uniqueness on stage.

Members from West in the Groove were also excited to have her by their sides instead of behind them.

“I think it’s really cool that the directors allowed her to express who she is and her individuality through what she wears,” senior Rebecca Lynn said. “There’s not many schools you see that would be willing to do that.”

Throughout the show choir season, Tupper would sing the lines of the girls in the group, but dance with the boys. Most from Millard West would accept her and cheer her on from the crowd, but others would scold her. Not everyone from around the state was very welcoming to her.

“Every competition there’s someone new with a new opinion,” Tupper said. “It’s usually parents, which is fine, but when other students do it, the rest of my group will stand up for me.”

On stage, Tupper would prove them wrong. Being different was not something to be ashamed of. She knew she would no longer stay in the back, she would stand up and sing her heart out in something she was both comfortable and confident in. When traveling to other states and schools, she would represent our school’s choice to accept people for who they are.