As a former competitor in pageants, I felt that this would be an interesting topic to bring up. We all seem to have opinions on the subject and I thought I’d share mine.
Growing up, I was never a “pageant girl.” I competed in my first pageant when I was in sixth grade. I had the stomach virus the whole week prior and was still sick on pageant day. But I was determined to wear that dress we found on the sale rack at David’s Bridal (it was definitely a flower girl dress), even if my face was sickly and had the same pale, white shade as the dress. Mom and I really didn’t know what to expect. I think I had my hair curled at the JC Penney salon and we put on a dab of blush, some lipstick, and I was set to go on stage. Needless to say, I didn’t win, but I didn’t care by the end of the night… all I cared to do was get my nachos and coca-cola and get home in bed.
Two years later, I tried it again and won both of the small, local pageants I competed in. And the next year I tried again… and won both of those pageants too. At the incredibly awkward ages of 13 and 14, getting on stage with the spotlight centered on you wasn’t the easiest thing, but it was a huge self esteem boost that girls this age often need.
Fast forward about six or seven years later, and I, for some reason, got interested in pageants again. I was a college sophomore and thought it would be something fun to do. Mom and I went to Columbia to pick out a -get this- real pageant dress, not something picked up off the racks at Dilliards. I also picked out a pageant swimsuit, heels, and jewelry …all in one fell swoop. I was told about an upcoming pageant called the “Carolina Queen Pageant.” This was a whole different deal than the local pageants I had competed in …the hair was bigger, the dresses tighter, and there was a swimsuit portion. Without any experience in this realm of pageantry, I braved it and ended up placing first runner up to the former Miss SC Teen USA, Caite Upton. You know her. Remember?
The pageant was even nationally televised. We didn’t know it at the time, but it was used during the first episode of TLC’s “King of the Crown” TV show that aired back in 2009.
Then I was introduced to RPM Productions, Inc. For more than 30 years, RPM has partnered with the Miss Universe Organization to produce premiere statewide events. There are local preliminary pageants across SC that lead to RPM’s Miss South Carolina USA pageant. So, I tried my hand at two. In November of 2009, I ended up entering the Miss SC USA pageant “at large.”
Competing in the state pageant yet again took pageants to a whole new level for me. I still felt new at this and was “thrown into a pack of wolves” …so to speak. My expectations on the whole experience were so different than the reality I experienced. It was harder in many ways, but I gained so many rewards that I didn’t expect. We all hear that pageant girls are catty, rude, and two faced. In reality, you become part of a sorority of women who leave a legacy that impacts communities through charities and other causes. You make new friends and enjoy an atmosphere of glamour and fashion, while developing poise, confidence, and career-enhancing skills.
I experienced this.
Through the handful of pageants I competed in, I walked away with dear friends, role models, and mentors. I tested my abilities and surprised myself in many ways. I stood on a stage in a bathing suit with the spotlight on me in front of thousands of people for goodness sakes. Not just stood on the stage…but you gotta work it, you know. 😉
Another great reward of pageantry is the adrenaline you get from high amounts of determination and motivation. The best I’ve felt in my life was during the months that I competed in pageants. Everything I did was with the pageant in mind. Not to where it was an obsession, but I watched everything I ate, exercised regularly, got plenty of sleep, and really worked hard on the white-strips, hair masks, face masks, etc. Taking care of yourself pays off and it’s nice to have that extra motivation to do so every once in a while.
Competing in pageants opened many doors for me. I signed with a modeling agency here in Charleston. I hate to say “signed” because that makes it sound big time. So, to re-word… I was under a contract with an agency and was able to do some modeling projects on the side while I was still a student in college. This began because I won a photo shoot as my prize in the Carolina Queen pageant. Without that shoot, I wouldn’t have had the photos in my portfolio to be able to meet with the modeling agency. I wouldn’t have had that extra push to pursue it either. On the same note, numerous Miss USA contestants have gone on to do much bigger things, like launch careers in entertainment by appearing on E! Entertainment, CMT Insider, MTV, Survivor, The Amazing Race, Fear Factor, The Bachelor, and countless television shows and movies.
I realized that I have a passion for communication, specifically public speaking, through the many instances when I had to speak in front of large crowds during pageants. I then went on to change my college major from Health Promotion to Communication. I enrolled in various advanced public speaking classes. Sounds corny, but those classes really molded me as an individual. Facing a fear changes you…especially when you end up excelling at it. I can honestly say that if it wasn’t for pageants, I wouldn’t be in the career field that I am today. I would have graduated in Health Promotion and gone on to be a nutritionist or something directly health related. My life is different because of the rewards I gained through competing.
If you’re interested in competing and live in South Carolina, North Carolina, Alabama, or Louisiana, you can contact RPM to find out how you can compete in this year’s state pageant.
Miss SC USA, Megan Pinckney, and Miss SC Teen USA, Tori Sizemore
I think the whole summary of this post isn’t specifically why competing in pageants is something you should do. The point I am trying to make is that testing yourself can cultivate many rewards. Whether it’s sky diving, training for a race, getting certified in something new, or really, anything that challenges you.
There are many bounties to be developed through weighing your limits!