I decided to challenge myself and do something that I had never tried before and really step outside my comfort zone. I used to love watching Kim of Queens. She is just so outgoing and I REALLY loved her opening on the show when she showed a picture of herself when she was young that was not that flattering. She was always finding girls that had never tried a pageant before and helping them and coaching them. The message was so positive and I really began to see pageants as something way more than a beauty contest where only pretty and perfect girls belong. Every time one of the new girls she found walked out on the stage, she felt beautiful and confident, no matter if she was the skinniest or prettiest girl there and it didn’t matter if those girls won a title, they all seemed to leave the experience feeling beautiful, special and confident. They learned skills that they will need the rest of their lives, and they learned to feel comfortable in uncomfortable situations, like speaking on stage or with a panel of judges, or performing a talent. Pageants are a great way to earn money for college too, especially the larger state pageants. There are so many different pageant systems and after competing in two recently I walked away with some amazing experiences and I learned a lot, but most importantly, I had so so much fun and I met a lot of new people and made some new friends. I never really ever thought of myself as a ‘pageant girl.” I am messy, I love Netflix, I like to sleep late, I suck at math and my bathroom is a mess. While I do love clothes, fashion, shoes, makeup and purses, I also wear sweat pants and messy buns. Since the only pageant I really knew about was the Miss USA, I decided to apply, and was accepted to represent my hometown in the upcoming Miss Illinois Teen (USA) in September. Since I have never done a pageant I figured I would need some help to get ready so I found a coach. His name is Jonathan Abernathy of Platinum Images Styling. He does it all, hair, clothing, personal styling, and interview. We have been working on all the things pageant for a while now and we thought it would be good for me to try a pageant so I could get a little more comfortable. I did some research and found that there was an Illinois American Coed pageant and Worlds Perfect Teen and Miss pageant coming up so I applied. I did not know what to expect at all. I had so much fun and really I walked away understanding that EVERY girl can be a pageant girl. I met some really great girls. A lot of them had done pageants before, they were really awesome at walking and seemed totally comfortable. There were girls that were every size and every look. That’s the thing really, the judging for these pageants is based on more then looks or size, it’s how you walk and carry yourself, how you speak and your ability to sit and have a conversation with the judges about a variety of topics. Don’t get me wrong, getting dressed up, doing my hair and makeup was great. Seeing all the great evening gowns, choosing my own and all the things that go into getting prepared have been so much fun, but meeting new people was really the best part, aside from having my coach and mentor there along with my parents, friends and family. The director is Michael Galanes, if he sounds familiar it’s because he had a TV show called Little Miss Perfect. He is an icon in the pageant world. I have to admit I was a little nervous to meet him, but he was so nice to me, and to all the girls. He really knows everything there is to know about pageants. He worked with every one of us to help us feel comfortable and to learn how to walk properly on stage. It’s not easy to remember all the patterns and to look graceful doing it, especially in heels, but Mr. Michael was so encouraging and nice that it made everyone feel not so nervous. He really cares about the girls who come out to try pageants and he really wants it to be a positive experience, and for me, it really was. He is really funny but most important, he is so supportive and encouraging, always there with a kind word, advice and willing to help you in any way. Another thing I thought was so cool was the fact that there are so many optional portions of the pageant. There was a speech portion, a talent portion, and an acting portion, which to me showed that there is something for everyone. If you don’t sing or dance, maybe you are a good actress, maybe you write and speak well. I liked that because it gave everyone a chance to shine. The moms were so nice too. No Dance Moms drama going on at all. I truly loved the whole weekend. I really hope that I can encourage other girls to give it a try. It’s one of the most fun things I have ever done, a fashion show with crowns and sashes…..WIN WIN!
PS- Pageants do not have to break the bank, make sure to check out my Charlotte’s Closet blogs and learn how you can borrow gorgeous dresses for a fraction of the cost, and check out the gorgeous black French Connection dress from Charlotte’s Closet that I wore for Black Fun Fashion in the World’s Perfect Teen pageant.