When I tell people I’m a pageant Queen, that look, you know the one, comes across their faces as if to say “but you are not 4 to 7 years of age, wearing fake lashes, have a spray tan, and you are not wearing frilly ankle socks”. No, because that is not what natural pageantry is about.
I must admit that I was extremely uncertain about becoming a part of the world of pageantry because of my age, “50 year old women don’t enter pageants” was my response to my daughter, Jordan, after she handed her title back in 2017 and asked me to compete in Miss United Kingdom Rose system with her. Now I know what you are going to say, “why not”? well that is exactly what she said to me and in all honesty I didn’t have a reasonable answer for her.
The more we talked about it, the more I understood that pageantry was so much more than hair, make up and gorgeous dresses. For starters this was something I was going to get to experience with Jordan and as two busy working ladies with our own households to look after we don’t get enough quality time together, so that was a point in favour of pageantry already. To learn that charity fund raising, and community work were a large part of pageantry was an extremely large factor in my decision to take the plunge.
And so, my pageant journey began; I signed on the dotted line, I received my finalists’ sash which I wore with pride and I set off ensuring that I put 100% in to winning my title. I held raffles and tombola’s, I talked some friends into undertaking a sponsored clubbercise event and I was fortunate enough to get a donation from the company I worked for at the time.
But you can’t just fund raise you have to learn what it means to be on stage in front of the judges and so I signed up for Miss Valentine Beauty 2018 Charity Pageant. Now I’m sure you can imagine the sheer look of panic on my face when I arrived at the event and saw some of the stunning contestants, many of them so much younger than myself, gliding elegantly on to the stage practicing for the main event. My first thought “do you think anyone will notice if I slip out the back and return when it’s over”, I’m sure it’s a thought that many of us have had that first time we experience competition.
By shear luck I sat next to one of the most esteemed Queens I have ever had the pleasure to meet, the one and only Stacey Darlington AKA Momma D. I think she picked up the complete look of terror I was sporting at the time and struck up a conversation. “How do I get up and walk in front of all these people who are going to think I’m a stupid old woman” I asked Stacey (not that 50 is old I hasten to add but in that moment I felt ancient compared to these gorgeous ladies I was amongst).
Well those who know her well will know exactly what she said “Get up! Come on get up! Watch me and do as I do”. Have you seen this lady on stage, she is fierce, how in the world was I going to be able to do what she did, never in a million years was I going to have that much confidence and surety in myself.
But never one to shy away from a challenge though I did as I was instructed. “Make good eye contact, smile at the judges, don’t look down, shoulders back”, great advice except have you ever tried to remember them all at once when you’ve never done it before.
All good things come to an end and soon it was time to do it for real. Like I say, never one to shy away from a challenge, I held my head up high, I smiled, I sashayed onto the stage and I gave it my all. When I came off the stage I experienced what I believe every queen or finalist has felt after their first time, that feeling of shear euphoria, an overwhelming sense of achievement and a high that I couldn’t put into words.
Now this is no fairy tale and there was no happy ending, I obviously came last but, despite that, I was hooked and so started a series of entries into charity pageants. I won my second and have been fortunate enough to have won all those I’ve entered since. I hasten to add that this is a not a brag, I believe that the self-belief in myself, that was created the first time I stepped out on that stage, gave me the encouragement to believe in myself, to believe I was good enough and to believe that I deserved to win.
I also firmly believed that I had an obligation to immerse myself into the world of pageantry and so I attended many many events; charity pageants, charity fund raisers, charity balls and such like. Every weekend I would do my hair & make up, attire myself of a smart dress, slip my feet into my tippy toes and off I’d go. I felt so out of place at first, but someone had to make the first move and as I have never really classed myself as a shrinking violet I made it my mission to meet as many people as I could so, I chatted to people, I established friendships, I offered support and advice, where I was able.
You would think that winning the title of Miss United Kingdom Rose Overall Charity in 2018 would have been the highlight but you’d be wrong. What I have learnt over the last three years is that being in a position to encourage and support Classic women to believe that they also have every right to step out on that stage and shine like the stars they are is what makes all the hard work so worthwhile. I will continue to promote pageantry to women of all ages, but Classic ladies will always hold a special place in my heart. We have so much life experience to offer. To now be in a position to take the younger generation under my wing and help guide them through the world of pageantry is incredibly rewarding. To be able to support pageant parents and grandparents alike gives me an incredible feeling of satisfaction. I fully intend to be the oldest pageant Queen ever if the world of pageantry will have me.
Pageant Land Guest Blogger - Kathryn Ozmaya
Until next time,
The Pageant Land Girls
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