Standing Up for Pageantry
By Daisi Pollard Sepulveda-Low
Today I am standing up for pageantry because I never want to see a girl or woman quit participating in female dominate activities, sports or careers because someone thinks they are invaluable, demeaning or silly. Before I give you tips, tricks, lessons or demonstrations about how to succeed in pageantry; I must share with you why I believe pageantry can be the most empowering competitive female focused sport ever!
Writing this article has come in a timely moment as pageant season is in full swing and Miss America has just crowned their new Queen. I was inspired to write this article in response to a recent segment delivered by commentator John Oliver on Beauty Pageants, specifically the Miss America System. When trivializing activities that are dominated by young girls and women what are we really saying? Are we suggesting that girls and women are only valued by their interest, pursuit and dominance of male focused activities, sports and careers?
I must admit, I am not a huge supporter of Miss America as a national pageant but I do value any opportunity that promotes “women dominate” sports and careers. In defense of John Oliver’s segment, the focus on how Miss America exaggerates their scholarship program’s capability to deliver 45 million dollars a year in scholarship money is a very relevant conversation to have from a business perspective. Miss America’s marketing and public relations decision to misrepresent how they sell their system in order to recruit viable candidates is poor at best. However, it is just as much of a poor choice on part of universities that sell silver-lined dreams to high school football players. We can have the same argument about why so many other women based scholarship programs offer so little and why those scholarships are largely geared towards male dominated careers.
I believe whether my reading audience is young or adult, whether you are glitz pageant girl or a scholarship pageant candidate;
if the pageant industry as a whole is ever going to replace mockery with respect than these are the conversations we ought to start having.
What You Should Know Before You Enter A Beauty Pageant
Beauty pageants are for us. They are competitive. You are being judged on your beauty, physical presence, ability to speak, to think, organize, prepare, participate, socialize, diplomacy and stay the course. The higher you go in pageantry, the more these things matter. They are not for impressing boys, finding husbands, creating frenemies. You will make friends, gain prestige, learn many things about yourself, how you view other girls, handle stress, pressure, hunger, anger, defeat, loss and winning. It is not only a sport in its truist form but it is also a superior personal and professional development tool.
Relevance of Beauty Pageants
In the beginning Beauty Pageants were a celebration of beauty and today it still is. Donald Trump has it right when he says there has to be “great outer beauty”. I think the most important thing to understand about pageantry is the aesthetic sport of its competitive nature. However as the role of women in modern society has broadened so has the scope of any activity connected to women including pageantry. The “modern” business of pageantry has expanded from a gimmick first produced by P.T. Barnum in the 1850’s to a full fledged industry of pageant organizations, production companies, crown, jewelry and dress suppliers as well as coaches specializing in everything from walking, talking and waving. Pageantry is a legitimate business.
Be The Best Queen
It is an understatement to think that we can change public opinion and overcome the hurdles of stereotypes that overshadow the great things about pageants and beauty queens. There are plenty of embarrassing and even humiliating moments in pageants just as there are equally in other sports but focus is forever glaring on infamous moments such as the overly simplified 20 second Q&A sound bite. At some point most of candidates will either work in media as a broadcaster or have to deliver a media message in which they will have as little as 20 seconds to do so. How long in really life is an elevator pitch? As long as the elevator is moving. Do newscasters have an extensive amount of time to explain the news? Not all the time. It is however unfortunate that many of the pageant contestants are trained, coached and sometimes pressured to give really dumbed down and simple “responses” versus really applying what many of them know how to do well – deliver an impromptu speech. Some candidates flub their answer on purpose because as popular-culture has dictated, those who make fools of themselves will get noticed more than those who are really prepared to deliver a credible answer. Becoming the best queen means not being afraid to go unnoticed in turn for not being foolish. To be a queen is to know the difference between authenticity and a gimmick.