Beauty Pageants are a wonderful thing, especially once you have a grip on what you are doing, but it is not always a smooth ride getting to that point. So what are Beauty Pageants? By definition a Beauty Pageant is “a show or exhibition, especially one consisting of a succession of participants or events.”
Well no, Pageantry is SOOOOO much more; there are great bits, not so great bits, and bits you could never forget, no matter how hard you try! So if you are wondering what you might expect when competing in a Beauty Pageant, read on.
Pageantry is a wonderful experience and more often than not, those experiences fall into 3 categories; The Good, The Bad and The Not-So-Graceful.
Beauty Pageants are an experience FILLED with moments of greatness, and those moments glisten like crystals against stone. There are so many reasons why Beauty Pageants are an addictive hobby; they are not just about wearing a pretty dress and prancing around in a pair of heels. The confidence you build and the friendships you make sculpt a beautiful experience that we call PAGEANT LAND.
My first Galaxy final in 2019 was one I will remember throughout my pageant career.
When arriving for rehearsals on that Sunday morning I was filled with a strange mix of excitement, anticipation and terror, not really knowing what to expect.
Half way through rehearsals my heels were coming loose and not really fitting, I was struggling to walk in them (one Piece of advice ladies: always practice in your heels BEFORE you get to finals). Seeing the panic in my face, another contestant spent half an hour helping me to put new holes in the straps so I didn’t trip and fall on stage; because of this, she missed her final fashionwear practice walk on stage. This was not something I would have ever expected in a competition, let alone a Beauty Pageant.
I was always told that this environment would be dog-eat-dog, girls fighting over who was prettier and who had the nicer dress. I was told there would be sabotage and gossiping behind one another's' backs; granted, I was told this by people who had never had first hand experience with Beauty Pageants.
I was not expecting people I didn't know to cheer for me like they were family. I did not expect the pep talks backstage from girls who dropped everything they were doing when my legs were visibly shaking and I did not expect such selflessness and inclusion. I was simply not expecting to receive such support and love from girls I really didn't know.
This is what makes Pageantry such an addictive Hobby; Yes it is nice to wear pretty dresses, yes it is nice to have your hair and makeup done, and yes it is nice to go to all these events at amazing places, but those things pale in comparison to the friendships you create, the confidence you build and the personal growth you experience.
As with any experience where you bare your soul to the public, there are times where you need a thick skin and a good support network to help you through.
Who here has, when telling someone they compete in Beauty Pageants, have been asked “What? Like ‘Toddlers and Tiaras?!’”. ME! I HAVE! (Honestly, If I had a pound…)
Unfortunately, Beauty Pageants hold a stigma that suggests beauty pageants are damaging, sexist, and breed bratty, self-absorbed children. Consequently, Beauty Pageant Queens and contestants can be considered ‘poor role models’, ‘immoral’, ‘fighting against feminism’, ‘setting women's rights back decades’, all word-for-word quotes I have received from those who do not understand why or what we compete for. These comments are not from those within the industry, but from those outside of it who don’t and do not want to understand what the new age of Pageantry looks like. There will always be people who enjoy spreading negativity while trying to look like they are doing it for society, when In truth Feminism teaches women that they have a choice.
As a community we must work hard to change public perception from misunderstanding what we stand for. We stand for equality, friendship, support, love, charity awareness, self esteem, confidence, the list goes on.
We endeavour to engage with our community, raise awareness for things we believe in and become well-rounded and conscientious individuals.
This is something I believe everyone entering into Pageant Land must be willing to stand by. I am proud to be part of a community that teaches me to shout about what I believe in and be that positive role model I have always dreamt of being.
Grace, poise, elegance. Three things you expect to see when you hear the words ‘Beauty Contestant’. Right?
No matter how often we practice in our heels, how rehearsed we are in speaking publicly or how perfectly altered our dresses may be, something is always bound to go wrong. From falling on stage to dribbling your lunch down your interview outfit, Pageant Fails are inevitable.
I believe everyone has it in them to make a complete fool of themselves, intentionally or unintentionally and it just so happens I am a prodigy for ‘oops’ moments.
Personally, there are two anecdotes that come to mind when reminiscing on my own Pageant Fails. Are we sitting comfortably?
Christmas 2019: Representing Galaxy as Miss Somerset Galaxy 2019/20, I had the fortune of attending the main Taunton Town Centre Christmas light switch-on as a special guest. Standing on stage in front of thousands of people waiting with baited breath for the Christmas season to officially begin, a local radio presenter was doing the rounds with other special guests including THE MAYOR OF TAUNTON and Cricket Legend, Marcus Trescothick, I waited patiently for my turn. It finally arrived and my question was ‘What is your favourite thing?’ What is my favourite thing… Why do I not know what my favourite thing is? I tried the pageant question technique where you repeat the question asked before giving your answer and guess what blurted out?!
Seriously… Cheese. It was not a lie, but still not a great answer. The crowd was silent and you could see the look of confusion in the presenter’s face as he abruptly said ‘moving on’ and literally. Moves. On.
This was one of those times where I did not shun the stereotype of “Beauty Pageant Contestant” and certainly did not do Beauty Pageants a favour.
Galaxy UK Finals 2020: Everyone knows when they have found a great dress. Well I had found a great dress for my opening number at Galaxy; it was gorgeous off-white sateen, strapless with feather detailing. I LOVED it. My Step-Mother had very kindly stitched up the split so it was stage-ready and I felt amazing in it. Ok, I knew this dress was a snug fit. Well, I say snug; I was aware that I would need help getting in, and... possibly out of it.
In preparation, I had asked a fellow pageant girl if they would be able to spare a minute to zip me up before stage and all was fine. With it being a white dress I put off getting dressed until the last moment. BAD IDEA. Long story short, the dress would. Not. Zip. Up. At one point there were three, very lovely girls trying to get me into this dress. ‘It’s going, It’s going’ they begun telling me, no doubt relieved that they could stop stuffing me like sausage skin. Then POP, the girls fell silent.
The dress broke, just as we were called to stage. There I stood in the middle of the changing area holding this dress up to my boobs with a group of girls surrounding me, concerned looks spread across their faces.
Luckily, one of the other girls had studied fashion and sewing in college and managed to sew me into my dress in a matter of minutes when safety pins were not holding. I must admit I felt like Olivia Newton-John having to be sewn into her skin-tight leather trousers for the end scene in Grease!
There was still a bit of a gap in the dress but we rolled with it! Good job I was at the back of the opening number but nonetheless I WORKED THAT DRESS on stage, holes or no holes , I felt amazing. Better yet I got to Hulk-out of it backstage! My favourite ever pageant memory next to receiving the Miss Congeniality Award.
The Offending Garment:
No matter how and where you have, fallen, tripped, slipped, blurted out something you wished you hadn't, or burst out of your dress, there is always another pageant girl who has done the same. Each embarrassing and Not-So-Graceful moment will blur into just another story to share at the next event.
Despite and in spite of The Good, The Bad and The Not-So-Graceful, I am thrilled to be a part of such an amazing community.
On that note I will leave you with a video of my favourite ever pageant fall posted by Lexi Swann.
Remember Ladies: It is not about the fall, it is about the recovery.
Until next time,
Lucy and the Pageant Land Girls
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