Elizabeth Tran- It’s easy to get addicted to pageants. They’re exciting, glamorous, and can open doors to many different opportunities.
Unfortunately, it also comes along with a negative stigma. Often times, people assume pageant girls are fake, only focus on superficial things, have their mothers living vicariously through them, etc. When media outlets only focus on controversies that occur in the pageant world, it’s easy to understand why people can find them to be sexist and outdated. And I’m not saying those aspects of pageantry don’t exist, but much like everything else in the world, there is so much more to it. So for someone to automatically assume and claim pageantry is shallow without taking the time or decency to really know what else goes into it, I personally find their actions are much more shallow than their assumptions. It is those who judge pageants with this type of paradigm that make pageants appear to be the purest form of objectification.
So then, why do we compete in pageants?
Is it for the sparkly crown, the cash prize, and the new title you get to be called for a year? Partially. But it’s a bit of an unrealistic expectation, because you have to win in order to obtain those things. And unless you are the only person competing for that pageant, you will always have more or equal chances of losing than you do winning. Not because of your qualifications, but just simple math and probability. Your rank is not based on something you can measure consistently because it is entirely subjective and according to the opinions of a few people. If you really want a crown that badly, I’m sure you can find one online and even get them in bulk, it will probably cost less than the investment you will put competing.
Extrinsic motivation and comparisons are inevitable, but it is how we handle them and ourselves that matter the most.
The experience you gain through competing in pageants will help you develop life skills you wouldn’t be able to seek through many other outlets. First and foremost, the confidence you gain is worth more than anything you can put in dollar amount. While you will probably receive praise from those around you, it is finding the confidence within yourself you never knew you had that can make you all around a much happier person. Walking up on stage in the gown of your dreams makes you feel like a million bucks. You are able to walk into an interview room or speak to someone you just met with ease because pageantry helps you develop the social skills needed for the real world. Especially in this day and age when most millennial and younger prefer to communicate on a technological platform, they may not know how to effectively speak or carry themselves best in a human to human interaction.
Furthermore, you can open so many doors through the people you meet in pageants. There are the friendships that last a lifetime, while we may be competing against one another I have never seen so much support and love through my pageant sisters. You meet people from around your city, state, country, and even world, and it opens your mind to new ideas and things you never thought before. You also develop an incredible network of people who can help you in your future endeavors.
Pageants are what you make of it, just like everything else in the world. But the potential and opportunities pageants can offer are far more than anyone could imagine.
Photo: Jonas Yu Photography Left: Christine Huang, CEO of Charity Queen of One Power International Right: Elizabeth Tran Gown: Consumer’s Against Toxic Apparel’s Silver Needle & Thread and Laura Staley