Wednesday, May 2, 2012

10 Things I Learned Being A Beauty Pageant Contestant

With the popularity of Toddlers and Tiaras a lot of focus has been put on the pageant industry. While I personally think the parents on that show go a little overboard, I do think that pageants can offer young ladies of the appropriate age many lessons they can carry with them through life.

When I was 18, I had an opportunity to participate in our local pageant. The winner would go on to represent our city in the state pageant with the ultimate prize being the Miss America title. Although this was 20+ years ago I learned many lessons from that experience.

1. Prepare for your big interview - If I were to do it again I would put much more time into prepping for the interview. At the tender age of 18 my interview experience was very limited and I did not know what to expect. As an adult I recognize the value of preparation and would encourage someone getting ready for any kind of interview to do a sufficient amount of prep.

2. If you can walk across the stage wearing nothing except high heels and a swimsuit there isn’t anything in life you can’t do – There are few things scarier in life than standing in front hundreds of people wearing nothing but high heels and a bathing suit. Before my foray across the stage I thought that the term “knees knocking together” was simply a phrase. I’m here to tell you that it’s not! Whenever I get nervous about a presentation I think back to that day and am glad that I don’t have to give it in my bathing suit. Note to future contestants, please do not go skiing the week before the pageant. It’s hard enough to walk on those heels let along doing so while recovering from a sprained ankle. Additionally I don’t think judges are impressed by a bluish green hue running up to your mid calf.

3. Experience counts – I was very na├»ve entering the pageant world and it showed. Many of the girls had participated in other pageants and some of them had actually been crowned in other cities. My inexperience was very apparent from my choice of swimsuit to my song choice. If you find yourself lacking experience, ask for help from those that have gone before you.

4. Different people make the world go round – There were some very unique ladies participating in the pageant with me. I didn’t really appreciate all the different personalities at the time but we all brought something to the table. Celebrate the differences in people, it keeps the world interesting.

5. Spray adhesive really does keep your swimsuit bottom from creeping up – Who knew how fantastic something like spray adhesive could be? Spray adhesive as well as dress tape can usually be found in the undergarment departments of your finer establishments.

6. Practice makes perfect - The pageant contestants make it look so easy, gliding across the stage in their swimsuits or strutting their stuff to music. I can attest to the hours spent practicing those moves. Making something looks easy takes a lot of hard work.

7. Winning is great but you need to enjoy the journey – I did not win the pageant, place or even go home with the Miss Congeniality title but I had a blast participating. The reasons that I signed up in the first place were varied, but while I would have loved to take home the title I was looking more to prove something to myself. So often in life we only have our “eye on the prize” and we forget to enjoy the journey.

8. Grab the opportunities that are presented to you – As a pageant contestant we had other opportunities presented to us for participation such as modeling for a bridal show and doing a radio interview. These were experiences that helped me bond with the other contestants and allowed me to do things I haven’t done since. Whenever unique opportunities are presented to you grab them, they truly will enrich your life.

9. Doing something unusual will give you an interesting ice breaker for the rest of your life (or a blog posting) – I don’t pull out the pageant card very often but when I have it’s usually greeted with a lot of interest. One of my co-workers once told me that I should use it more often since he thought it was so fascinating. Take the opportunity to do something few people do and you’ll always have something interesting to talk about.

10. Appearance isn’t all about beauty, it’s about how you present yourself – As a society we place a lot of emphasis on beauty. How much money goes into plastic surgery, hair extensions, make-up, spanx, etc to give the illusion of beauty that we aspire to. My heart aches when I hear how some of these young girls feel about themselves because they don’t look that way. While we can’t always put the time and effort into the “illusion”, we can control is how we present ourselves. The most beautiful contestant isn’t always the winner; it’s the contestant who presents her best self for all to see.

Is there anyone else out there participant in a pageant? What were your takeaways?

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