My Former Pageant Life: An Inside Look at Pageants
True life, I was a pageant girl. I competed in the Miss America system and more specifically the Miss Texas pageant from 2001-2004 and then again in 2006. It was one of the best experiences of my life.
First things first, Miss America is the pageant system that has a talent portion and the winner receives scholarships. Miss USA is the system that was formally owned by Donald Trump, has no talent portion and the winner gets a modeling contract.
I knew from the time I was in high school that I wanted to compete. I grew up going to the Miss Texas pageant with my baton twirling teacher since I was little and it was somewhat of a right of passage. So, my freshman year of college at TCU I borrowed a one piece swimsuit from my Big and off I went.
In order to compete at the state pageant you have to win a local preliminary. So Miss Fort Worth for example. There is no entry fee, but now there is a donation that is made to CMN (Children’s Miracle Network). So, all you need is a wardrobe. I had most of it just from doing baton twirling for years. (I did baton twirling as my talent for all but 1 year when I decided to dance.)
I started with locals that were close to school and in and around the DFW area. The pageant has 5 phases of competition:
1. Interview - a 9 1/2 minute private press style interview with the 7 judges where they can ask you anything from your name, platform or current events.
2. Swimsuit (although this will not be an event at this year’s Miss America pageant)
4. Evening Gown
5. On Stage Question
You are judged on a 1-10 scale by each judge with the high and low scores being thrown out. Each phase of competition is weighted differently and the person with the highest score wins.
But I know you all want to know the juicy stuff. But honestly, there is not a whole lot of cattiness. For the most part, the girls all got along and you truly form a sisterhood since you are competing with each other week after week and year after year. Two girls I competed with were in my first wedding and still my friends today.
You witness the ups and downs of life with the girls. You see them work so hard for a common goal, so you know what they are doing through. You also just are close, I mean you are literally gluing each other’s butts into swimsuits (yes you glue that puppy down, no one wants to see butt cheek).
Girls come from all walks of life. You have those that have competed in pageants since they were little. You have girls that come from money those from single family homes, some in college, some in grad school, some who are like me and a just need a little extra cash for school. For some of the girls though, this is the life’s dream.
Yes, not all the girls are the kindest all the time and some can be snooty or not as social, but that is just life. My first year was rough. I competed every weekend almost and never won. It was heartbreaking, but such a learning process. I grew so much as a person and learned how to be totally confident anywhere anytime.
I continued to compete in local prelims from throughout my college life. I did my last prelim just before I moved to London and then decided it just wasn’t meant to be. I was first runner up more times than I can count, but you know? I could not change it for the world. I won cash here and there and I am an interview queen.
I graduated from TCU in 2005 and went to work there. I put my pageant career behind me and focused instead on working and grad school. And then I went and watched a local and I knew I just wanted to try one more time.
In fall of 2006, in my last year of eligibility, I decided to give it one last try. But this time, I was going to go all in. You see, during college I didn’t workout other than twirling and did not know how to eat healthy, so I just showed up and tried.
At this point I had met my first husband and he showed me how to workout. He taught me about eating better. So, I did. I competed in three locals before winning Miss White Settlement ( a small town 4 miles from Fort Worth). I was so excited and just knew it was going to be the best.
It was and wasn’t. I did lost 35 pounds and got healthy. I was one of the girls who refused to crash diet and didn’t use supplements to lose weight. I practiced my talent 3 days a week at 7am before work. Yup, I was working full time. I made appearances and spoke in schools and loved it.
However, I did not have a good experience with my directors. It was their first year to have a titleholder and I was not your typical girl. I was 24 and worked full time, not a college student being supported by mom and dad. I was independent and had my own ideas. We had different thoughts on my swimsuit, gown and talent. I wanted a beautiful lyrical baton piece to Rhapsody in Blue (they thought I was Bohemian Rhapsody… if this tells you anything). Then they wanted an upbeat Dream Girls song (which had come out and then was the theme of the pageant). I ended up doing an instrumental from Bond (to this day I cannot hear the song without cringing). They picked an evening gown I hated and a swimsuit without asking me and I refused to wear it because it was way too high cut for me to be comfortable. It was hard. I wanted this to be the best experience for me and they made it difficult. They left me a horrible voicemail on my phone when they saw my swimsuit that I picked out and felt ok in. It was just bad.
Most directors are not that way. They are wonderful volunteers who go the extra mile for the girls. And these ladies meant well, I just think they did not bargain for a 24 year old woman. Water under the bridge now.
I ended up winning a non-finalist talent and interview award and was happy.
I have remained an active volunteer since I retired from pageants. I sat on the board of a local preliminary for 3 years, and coached numerous girls in interview. Most recently I have been judging local preliminaries about once a year.
I truly love this organization. I have witnessed some of the most intelligence and talented young women go on to awesome things. I have also made lifelong friends.
I am interested to see the future of the program since it is under new leadership that seems to want to take it in a new direction. The removal of swimsuit will sure put a change on things and I wonderful if it will hurt and help the organization.
If you have ever competed or want more information I am happy to share. My first year of law school was pretty much paid for by money won from competing off and on. The teen program is also a wonderful stepping stone as well as the Lonestar Princess program.
I have people ask me if E will do pageants. I never competed in little girl pageants, only modeled a dress for the pageant portion of baton twirling and so I do not think I will let her unless she asks to. My life is not her life and she can choose what she wants when she is ready to tell us!