In light of one of the most sparkly weeks of my year, I’m inspired to share many of the questions about pageants that I am so often asked by others. Pageantry has long been one of the most controversial sports/hobbies there is, and while I’ve never really been on the other side of pageantry (outside looking in), I’ve enjoyed helping people to understand them and why people are so passionate about competing in them.
Some of the best qualities and character traits can be found by competing or volunteering with pageants. The ability to walk into a room, perfectly poised, and discuss difficult topics with individuals is something many women strive for, and pageantry can help you gain the skills to do that. Before jumping ahead and spoiling any of the answers to come, I have to give a little spoiler and let you know this post isn’t going to slam pageantry. I am pro-woman, pro-human, pro-be a good human and do something with your life; therefore, I am also pro-pageant.
A quick little visual to get you into the mind of little 10 years old me when I was fully submerged into the dreamland of pageantry… I was at the Miss North Carolina Pageant as a Carolina Princess for Miss Garner, Michelle Drake. She was a beautiful dancer, the smartest person I had ever met, and her platform was raising awarness about Domestic Violence. That entire sentence makes me smile because 1 woman changed the course of my life forever, and she didn’t know it. I remember hearing people talk about how she would dance until her toes blead because she was so dedicate to her practice. She was in great shape because living a healthy lifestyle was really important to her. She was beautiful and down to earth and always made time for her chatty Princess. She mentored me by being an example of a good woman with beauty, grace, character, poise, and kindness. To this day, I admire her, and look up to her not only because “She’s so beautiful.” but because she had depth and character and was kind to people. She advocated for others and taught me to be passionate about serving others.
So, let’s start with some of the easy questions:
When did you start competing in pageants?
I was 4 years old when I competed in my first pageant. It was my dance teacher’s pageant which also happened to be my hometown pageant! Fortunately, I didn’t win the first time around, and I learned all of the valuable lessons about being a good sport really early on.
Did your parents make you do pageants?
That’s a hard NO! In fact, my dad made a vow to my mom that he would only allow me to compete in a pageant once I was old enough to ask him to compete. And that’s exactly how I began my experience with pageants!
Did you always do pageants?
My “pageant journey” began when I was 4, as you know… I absolutely loved competing and being on stage, and the interview portion was always my favorite. I have to be honest, every single pageant experience from age 4 to about 13 was completely positive and beneficial. Even the losses were wins because I made a friend or had a great time.
When I was 13, I remember getting stage fright for the first time in my life. The contestant in front of me had been chirping me all week and really got in my head, which was also the first time that had happened to me in a pageant. So, my performance was a complete bust, and I told my mom I was never doing another pageant again lol
Years later, I started competing in the Miss USA & Teen USA system, and by that time, my mom was really involved with the Miss America system. During the interim, I had remained involved and around pageantry as a result of my mom’s involvement, and all of my experiences remained completely positive, learning about platforms and special causes, how to use pageantry as a way to raise money for important charities and other great life lessons. I officially hung up the heels and stepped away from competing in 2014 after getting married, beginning the rest of my life in a whole new sparkly way.
Those are the “softball questions” or what contestants often call “the fluff” lol Here’s to answer some of the more difficult questions:
What was the hardest part about competing?
Honestly, I have 2 answers here. First, the hardest part is figuring out how to project your authentic self, especially when you don’t have a clue who you are as an individual. How can you put your best foot forward when you are trying to be someone else? That is definitely something I struggled with for years as I competed, and it wasn’t until the last few pageants that I truly projected an authentic and accurate “me” both in the interview and onstage.
Secondly, it’s really hard to create your tribe, and believe me… it does really take a village. No one goes on to win Miss America or Miss Universe without the help and support of people who genuinely care. I have experienced the best and the worst when it comes to tribe members, and if I’ve learned anything, it’s to trust your gut and cut out people who make you feel bad about yourself. Also, keep the circle small.
How do you feel about pageant coaches?
This is a trick question haha I feel great about good pageant coaches, and I want to scream at bad ones. A pageant coach can literally make or break your experience as a contestant and your ability to perform at your very best. I’ve had the good and the bad coach, and the difference is night and day.
In my experience, the difference between the good and the bad coach was someone telling me to take laxatives around the clock, work out 3 times a day even if I was sick, eat under 500 calories a day, and telling me that I was fat and would never win if I couldn’t make my body look like someone else’s. Flip the coin and a good coach was the person who told me he didn’t really care what my body looked like on the outside because his training program would ensure that based on my anatomical numbers and physiological build, my body would be correct. Basically, I would look the way I’m supposed to look because my numbers would balanced, based on science, not measurements.
Then, there was the great coach who wouldn’t help me with my interview questions until I was able to first answer the question “Who are you?” This took us a few sessions, just this one question, and my time with her felt more like therapy than interview training. That was the difference in money well spent and dollars thrown down the drain. She took the time to use her expertise in human development to help me be the most authentic version of myself by introducing me to myself. She taught me how to compete as Lindsay, not the contestant who is desperately trying to look like last year’s queen and act like the queen from the year before that.
Do you really think its appropriate for Christians to do pageants?
I do. I think it is just as appropriate for Christians to do pageants as it is for them to campaign for political office. This question always stumps me, and maybe it’s because I don’t really understand the question. Why wouldn’t a Christian girl do a pageant? Through pageantry, women are shown how to develop a platform and understand the value of working towards a goal that ultimately means to serve others. Being queen is great and all, but 90% of the job is service oriented.
How do you break the pageant stereotype? or Are you like most pageant girls?
It’s simple. I don’t, and I am. Pageant girls are great. They are the cream of the crop at job interviews because they have the experience and training to have an intellectual conversation with a complete stranger about various normal and controversial topics. Why would I break this stereotype?
Also, pageants girls are known for being beautiful and poised, and I’m not necessarily one to say “I’m all that and a bag of chips.” but if that’s the pageant girl stereotype, then I have to be honest, I do want that… because I’m human, and there’s nothing wrong with wanting to be graceful.
And then, these are some of my favorite questions.
Don’t you think pageants make girls have body image problems?
The complete opposite. Pageants don’t create body image problems. Unsupportive friends, family and coaches do. Being a teenage girl or young adult woman in 2018 is not easy. It wasn’t easy in 1920, and it’s not easy now. BUT, pageantry helps women to understand more about themselves, what they are capable of, and how to really accel as a woman in today’s society.
That being said, I know that many girls and women in pageantry do struggle with body image problems; however, I don’t believe it’s a consequence of competing in pageants. I believe it’s a result of being human.
With all that dieting, how can someone in the mental health field support this… Isn’t it going to cause eating disorders?
This is another tricky one, and even with my own personal struggles with eating and dieting, I still can’t blame the pageant. It’s like the dancer stereotype… when people blame the Ballet Companys for creating eating disorders. It’s not ballet. It’s not the dancing. Sometimes, it’s the teacher, or in pageants, the coach. Other times, it’s a girl who was born with a predisposition for the possibility of a mental health issue that was triggered through extreme dieting and exercise. Bottom line though, nowhere in any contract or paperwork is extreme dieting a requirement to compete in a pageant.
I’m not an idiot though. Anytime a woman finds herself in a position where her body is being judged and professionals are writing a score on a piece of paper that represents their personal opinion of her, it’s a challenge. The thing with pageants though, is that these women don’t find themselves in these situations, they put themselves there. If I were to blog about how bad it made me feel that judges were actually putting a number on me and scoring me based on my looks and how I walked, I would then be an idiot because I put myself on that stage and told them to do that… That was a little sidebar, so back to EDs. They are a problem, a problem that exists with or without pageants, and I think that those involved in pageantry on any level at all should be willing to step in and have the conversation if they suspect a girl is struggling with this. I have seen contestants who had EDs before ever competing go on to get the help they need as a result of pageantry… which is not the story the media tells you about pageants and eating disorders.
If it’s a scholarship pageant, why do girls spend so much money to compete?
There are multiple answers to this quesiont, and here are a few of mine: 1. Because they can. 2. Because they want to. 3. Because they aren’t utlizing their sponsors. 4. Because they maybe haven’t figured out how to utlize sponsors. 5. “So much money” is a relative statement and means something different to anyone.
Once a girl wins at her local level, she is capable of going to state with her entire wardrobe sponsored. That’s not to say she wont spend a little gas money getting there, but it is to say that you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars to compete in a pageant. This is a common myth, but then again… some girls do. For the ones who do, I mean that’s there thing… How people spend their money is ultimately up to them an none of my or your business. Scholarship pageants exist in a way that women can recieve tremendous scholarships; however, you might have to spend a little money getting there.
Also, little sidebar, pageants aren’t JUST about scholarship. That’s a huge benefit to competing, but I 100% believe it’s only part of it. It’s also about the pageant. You have to enjoy some part of the competition to get up there and do it. Maybe your goal is single fold, to win the pageant and get the scholarship, but that’s just the end goal. You are also getting tons of opportunities, outside of scholarship, from competing in pageants, and I think girls compete for that too. And that’s okay.
Now, onto the speed round for a few quick questions to finish up!
What’s your favorite phase of competition?
Interview. Hands down. I love talking to judges and trying to help them as they figure out who is the best fit for the title.
What’s the best piece of advice you’e been given through pageantry?
“You’re as ready as you’re going to be, so stop training and go compete.” I was that contestant who would be running laps the day of the competition, doing sit ups back stage, and studying in line for interview. Learning to take a step back and just compete gave me the headspace to actually get in the game and off the sidelines.
What’s one piece of advice you give contestants?
“Don’t do it, if it wouldn’t make you proud.” So many girls (myself include) wear things they hate, sing songs they don’t like, and give answers they didn’t think up on their own, and this only does yourself a disservice in the long run. It’s one thing to step outside of the box, and it’s another to stretch yourself to a point of being very uncomfortable. You have the power to control yourself in any situation, so in everything, don’t do it, if it wouldn’t make you proud.”
Well, these are some of the common questions I tend to get asked about pageants. I hope you have a better understanding of pageants from the perspective of a pageant girl. There is definitely a lot of sparkly and glam at the surface of pageantry, but it’s not the pillar that defines the women within these programs. Their pillars are built through their character and the many powerful values and traits they have picked up along their pageant journey.
If you would like to share some of the questions you’ve been asked, or maybe if your answer to these questions is different than mine, share below in the comments! I’d love to hear your feedback ❤ And remember, always wear your invisible crown!
– the Wife, previously known as the Queen