Adeline Bordeaux In ‘Nightmare Pageant Moms,’ Explained: Did She Realize Her Mistake?

The powerful influence of parental behavior on children is a recurring theme in Nightmare Pageant Moms. It is a pattern that we have witnessed time and time again: children have an innate tendency to mimic and internalize their parents’ attitude and behavior. This phenomenon leaves an indelible mark on their young minds, shaping their future actions and beliefs. Adeline Bordeaux is a central character in the film whose journey exemplifies the lasting impact of parental influence. Adeline’s upbringing in the cutthroat world of beauty pageants has ingrained in her a deep-rooted desire for victory and an unrelenting pursuit of excellence that has defined her life. Her mother, Rebecca, is a passionate pageant enthusiast who has shaped her perception of success, teaching Adeline that winning is the ultimate measure of self-worth.


Spoilers Ahead

Adeline’s Relationship With Rebecca

Adeline absorbs Rebecca’s competitive nature like a sponge, internalizing her drive for pageant triumph and adopting it as her own. However, underneath Adeline’s seemingly positive aura lies a vulnerability, a fragile psyche molded by years of Rebecca’s influence. But Adeline’s character in the film also delves into the darker aspects of human nature—jealousy, manipulation, and a relentless thirst for winning. These traits, once innocuous and unnoticed, take root in her character and she is willing to do whatever it takes to claim the crown. Unfortunately, Rebecca fails to comprehend the damaging effects of her behavior on her daughter. Oblivious to the transformation occurring within Adeline, Rebecca continues to impose her own unattainable standards on her, inadvertently shaping Adeline into a monstrous version of herself that she never expected her daughter to become.


From an early age, Adeline has been subjected to constant demotivation and a lack of appreciation from her mother. Rather than recognizing and nurturing Adeline’s unique talents, her mother consistently undermines her self-esteem by focusing solely on her flaws and perceived shortcomings. This constant criticism chips away at Adeline’s confidence, leaving her feeling inadequate and desperate for validation. As Adeline observes her mother showering kindness and praise on every other girl except her, a simmering fury begins to consume her. The stark contrast in treatment triggers a deep-seated frustration, leaving Adeline searching for an outlet to release her anger.

Regrettably, she struggles to find healthy means of expression, resorting instead to inflicting pain on others. Rebecca, having achieved an impressive seventeen pageant crowns herself, places immense pressure on Adeline to follow in her footsteps. Expectations loom heavily over Adeline’s shoulders as her mother sets the bar high and envisions a future filled with continued glory for the Bordeaux family name. However, the reality is far from Rebecca’s lofty dreams. Despite Adeline’s sincere efforts, she fails to secure any pageant victories. Each disappointment becomes a painful reminder of her perceived inadequacy in the eyes of her mother. In response, Rebecca destroys Adeline’s self-esteem and fuels her inner turmoil.


Adeline’s Quest To Oust Sophie And Emilia From The Competition

Adeline’s heart races with excitement when she learns about the regional Atlanta mother-daughter pageant competition. It’s the perfect opportunity for her and her daughter, Lilliana, to shine and secure a resounding victory. But everything changes when the newcomers, Emilia and Sophie, join the show. Adeline’s anger surges uncontrollably as she witnesses the judges’ liking towards them. Emilia and Sophie possess extraordinary talents that captivate the judges, intensifying Adeline’s fury. Determined to eliminate any perceived threats, Adeline resorts to devious tactics. She schemes to sabotage another mother-daughter team by planting drugs, successfully eliminating them from the competition. But that isn’t enough; Adeline is fixated on ousting Emilia and Sophie as well.

Rebecca’s constant comparisons between Adeline and the newcomers further intensify her frustration. The simple act of ripping her own dress and placing the blame on Emilia and Sophie does little to sway the judges’ opinion. Adeline realizes she needs a more drastic approach. Driven by desperation, Adeline decides to seduce the main judge, Cyrus. She approaches him with calculated intent, hoping to use his influence. But Cyrus discovers her ulterior motives and Adeline’s plans take a sinister turn. In a moment of panic, she resorts to the unthinkable: she kills him. Fearing the consequences of her actions, Adeline turns to Warren Sandler, pretending not to know him while secretly holding a close connection to him. With her seductive charm, she manages to coerce another judge, Franklin, into believing that the votes are on her side.


Adeline’s Self-Perception

Adeline finds herself trapped in a web of her own ill deeds. Overwhelmed by guilt and despair, Adeline breaks down, shedding tears of remorse in front of Rebecca. However, instead of offering understanding or acceptance, Rebecca refuses to acknowledge her own mistakes, placing blame solely on Adeline Throughout her life, Adeline has carried a deep-seated belief that she is a failure, unable to achieve anything unless she follows in Rebecca’s footsteps. This internalized sense of inadequacy and fear drives Adeline’s actions, leading her to project her anger onto her own daughter, Lilliana. Adeline goes to extreme lengths to control Lilliana’s life, forbidding her from seeing her father and manipulating her daughter with claims of his infidelity. In truth, Adeline’s actions stem from her own fear of being alone and her unhealthy desperation to cling to her daughter.

Rebecca fails to recognize that Adeline may excel in other areas or possess talents beyond the realm of beauty contests. Like Rebecca, Adeline demoralizes Lilliana, constantly pressuring her to lose weight and participate in beauty pageants. Over the years, Adeline’s self-perception becomes tainted by the disgust that Rebecca instilled in her, shaping her view of herself as a flawed and inadequate individual. Finally, Adeline’s pent-up emotions erupt, exposing the depths of her anguish. The years of repressed self-disgust and frustration spill out uncontrollably, leading her down a path of destruction. Adeline’s story serves as a tragic reminder of the lasting impact that toxic relationships and distorted self-perception can have on one’s actions and overall well-being. 


Adeline has always despised her mother, Rebecca, for her manipulative and demoralizing behavior, but it is ironic how she slowly becomes a mirror image of her mother, replicating and intensifying those very same traits. This highlights the power of toxic patterns that run in families, often perpetuating through generations if not consciously broken. Rather than learning from Rebecca’s mistakes and striving to create a healthier environment for her daughter, Lilliana, Adeline succumbs to her own insecurities. This missed opportunity showcases the extent to which toxic patterns can entrench themselves within a family system, often perpetuated by unaddressed emotional wounds and unresolved trauma.

If Adeline had broken free from her mother’s toxic influence, both she and her daughter, Lilliana, could have experienced a different reality. They would have had the opportunity to cultivate self-confidence, pursue their passions, and embrace their unique strengths. Open and honest communication, trust, and support would have fostered a nurturing environment, allowing them to break the cycle of toxicity and create a legacy of growth and love. 


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Raschi Acharya
Raschi Acharya
Raschi Acharya is a Mass Media graduate and she is currently working and living in Mumbai. From a very young age, Raschi was heavily interested in reading and writing. She prefers to write everything that her mind nurtures her to do as shaping up her imagination is her forte!

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