As I've become increasingly involved in the Miss America Organization, I've been met with both uplifting but also inquiring responses of why a girl "like me" would get involved in a program like this. Unfortunately, there is a negative stigma associated with pageantry on a much larger scale than just MAO - one that thankfully my sisters and dear friends involved also recognize. As we seek to shatter the various stereotypes associated with the program, I want to share with you just a few of the many reasons I am so heavily involved in the pageant system . Without further ado, here are five of the biggest reasons that I'm such a proponent of pageantry.
1. Pageants Teach People Skills
Throughout my involvement in pageantry just over a year, I have drastically grown and refined the way in which I communicate with others. From verbal to nonverbal communication, to writing and networking with professionals, and confidently but truthfully becoming more of the woman I want to be, pageants have shaped me and stretched me in the ways I connect with others. Specifically, in the Miss America system, contestants compete in a nine minute press conference style interview in which they must quickly solidify intelligent answers to controversial questions. Preparing for interview alone has enabled me to become comfortable responding to all types of questions, and connect better with any audience that is in front of me. I've learned how to seek out sponsors, connect with business owners, and networking techniques, all of which are life skills that are necessary far beyond the realm of pageantry.
2. Pageants Build Confidence by Empowering Women
Never before have I seen more confident women than in the scope of pageantry. The women that I have met who compete are some of the most intelligent, inspiring, hardworking, kind and selfless people I have ever met. They rock the stage with elegance and poise, and conduct themselves off stage with that same grace. Pageants allow young women not only a creative outlet to display the gifts they've been given, and they also connect girls with one another to love and cheer each other on. Directors and board members are dedicated volunteers, and continually check in on the lives of contestants helping them to be the best version of themselves as possible. Pageants infuse confidence into the lives of women by giving opportunities that are unique to each system, and creating mentoring opportunities throughout the system.
3. Pageants Provide Scholarships
Did you know that the Miss America program is one of the world's largest scholarship providers for young women? This fact sparked my initial interest to compete, though my reasons for competing now have drastically expanded beyond scholarship funds (but they are an added bonus!) Pageants encourage women to pursue their dreams, and provide a financial means of doing so. Countless women are able to graduate debt free and pursue their career of choice, which for many competitors may have been impossible to do without this assistance.
4. Pageants Establish Positive, Long-Lasting Relationships
Although there is much negative publicity of pageant girls being catty and self-centered, my experience could not be further from that statement. Throughout my time competing, I have been surrounded by like-minded women who seek to serve their community and fulfill high aspirations they have set for themselves. These women surround, encourage, and uplift one another, and are always willing to go the extra mile for the girl who needs something. I'm so thankful for the friendships I've made with my fellow contestants and directors through this process, considering I never would have developed without our mutual involvement in pageantry.
5. Pageants Serve the Community for the Greater Good
One of the most essential aspects of pageantry is being an ambassador for the community. Being a local titleholder in the Miss America program is a job of its own, providing each contestant with a platform to make a difference. A major emphasis in pageant programs is continuing to serve others in every appearance and opportunity, valuing them more highly than oneself. The crown is simply a tool to aspire toward greater things.
These five reasons are so fundamental to the motivation behind why a girl "like me" is involved in pageantry. I'm empowered, intelligent, dedicated to bettering my community, preparing myself for the future, and a pageant girl.
Walk in love,