Updated: Apr 12
Just hold on a minute, I’m not saying get your kit off for money, that’s a whole different ball game. But pageants provide a platform for you to expand your fundraising capabilities.
It is the same concept as a business advertising their products or services, but it’s an ideology a lot of people, particularly those who have not truly EXPERIENCED a pageant, struggle with.
“Pageant ladies often get accused of doing charity work for attention. But the truth is, to make money for charity you have to draw attention to what you are doing and you need to do something worthy of attention” - Jessica Barclay, Pageant Land Founder
Let’s not beat around the bush, the majority of pageant systems promote charity work amongst their contestants and the majority score points for the amounts raised or award side awards for those that have raised the most. HOWEVER, the intent behind this encouragement is pushing girls and women to be their best selves, to engage with their community and to put other people’s needs before their own, regardless of what competition they are entering.
By holding a title as “Miss” Devon, Wiltshire, Newcastle, wherever you hold a title, you are representing your community in a national competition. Whether you are aware or not, you are a role model and are representing your system.
“If charity work is done in silence how are we able to highlight the need for donations? How can we fundraise hundreds and thousands of pounds for worthy causes if we don’t take a picture - it’s not about vanity as it is about raising awareness” - Felicia, Pageant Land
That is not to say that if you do a pageant you HAVE TO fundraise or volunteer. A lot of contestants simply enjoy the rush of being on stage while others love the push pageantry gives them to work on their charity portfolio!
It also works in reverse; if you do a pageant, you DO NOT HAVE TO compete in swimwear. A lot of pageants opt for a 'little black dress' round, or 'sportswear' (which, personally, I find more offensive because...well.. exercise).
Now, a lot of the comments I have received personally, surround the topic of being a role model, vis a vie 'You cant compete in a beauty pageant swimwear round and remain a role model'... thanks Karen. So I suppose the question I'm asking really is 'can you still be a role model and compete in a beauty pageant swimwear round?'
The long and short of it is YES!
Of course you can.
Why would that even come into question?
I will tell you for why: Sexism has promoted an institutionalised battle against female sexuality for hundreds of years; and for those hundreds of years a woman's body has been sexualised as a property to be owned by the gaze of others. This provides those others to predetermine a woman's worth based on how much skin she shows, her hobbies, or the way she interacts with other people.
For hundreds of years a woman was not able to so much as show an ankle, stand near a man without a chaperone, or even choose who her body belonged to; so why, in 2021, are women still being chastised for MAKING A CHOICE to do something that empowers them. Why have we, as a society, decided that it is a bad thing for a woman to own her own body and choose what she does with it. Why have we decided that a woman competing in a Beauty Pageant with a Swimwear round, holds no value. Why have we decided that this woman is a poor role model. Why have we decided that this woman is a poor reflection of what the female population has to offer. Why are women still tearing down other women for making their own decisions. And Why have we decided beauty pageants are anti-feminist...
Feminism promotes equality between the sexes and affords women the opportunity to choose what happens with their lives. So why, still, are we judging other women for competing in a Beauty Pageant with a Swimwear round.
Beauty pageants and their contestants promote strength, female empowerment, empathy, trust, teamwork, charity, compassion, power, friendship... the list goes on. Why are any of these things bad and why are they jaded by the mere suggestion of Swimwear.
I'm just going to let that sit there.
Lets take a look at how a Swimwear round makes us feel:
What does it feel like to walk on stage in swimwear in front of hundreds of people? Simple answer: EXHILERATING
Swimwear is my favourite round next to evening wear. The feeling after coming off stage in your swimwear is overwhelming; you feel confident, you feel powerful and you feel sassy because there are SO many like-minded, supportive people in the audience, cheering and clapping FOR YOU. This is emphasised so much more during a swimwear round because it is not easy to step out onto a stage in your swimwear for the first time. The audience knows this and oh boy do they let you know how amazing you are! They see you and they support you. It melts away any insecurity, any self doubt and fills you with an incredible warmth and sense of accomplishment.
I spoke to Kayleigh Atkinson, Mrs Galaxy UK 2019/20 about her opinions on Beauty Pageant swimwear rounds:
"So personally I love the bikini round in a pageant for the older contestants . I think that bikini rounds can show diversity in a pageant and show that everybody is normal and every body is accepted in our society:
It’s not pageant girls that have created a negative image with the bikini round it is other peoples public perceptions of what a bikini round is.
In my opinion pageant girls build their own legacy. What they do with their title, what platform they create and how they portray themselves in the public eye.
My pageant journey was very much about body confidence and in turn that created the platform and following I have now. As a body confidence advocate people found me relatable and likeable. I never changed for anyone and I was always true to myself.
I did a lot of fundraising for charities and because of the platform I had created people were keen to support me.
The bikini round for me was empowering! It supported everything that I had worked hard to build. The bikini round showed my lumps and bumps and proved to girls and woman following me that it’s ok to have imperfection because they are perfect!
I went on to win Mrs Galaxy UK 2019 and I loved my journey to America."
This topic weighs heavy on me as it is likely the discussion will never truly be over. We can, however, keep doing what we do: help others and be a boss whilst doing it.
In time, negative perceptions will alter and the pageant community will continue to thrive, I am sure of it.
Until next time,
Lucy and the Pageant Land Girls
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