From Pageant Girl to Pageant Judge

Ohhh pageantry… what a wonderful thing it is and boy has it changed my life! Throughout the two short years that I was involved in pageants, I learned how great they really are and I also learned how most people don’t know the slightest thing about them. Let’s all be real here, pageants have a bad rap and that really stinks! I can be the first one to tell you that people assume that pageant girls are just girls with nice bodies, hair extensions, and pretty faces. While all of those things are mostly true, I can assure you that those aren’t the only things going for pageant girls. These girls are doctors, dentists, lawyers, business owners, and then there’s me….an esthetician! I’m not ashamed!

Competing for Miss USA was the pinnacle of my life. I still have to pinch myself at times to remind myself that it wasn’t a dream. I competed for the title of MISS USA! Wow. Never in a million times did I ever imagine that happening. I stayed at the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada for more than 20 days in 2012. I lived with 50 other pageant girls making a minimum of three appearances at day. Some days, call time was 7am (had to wake up at 5 to get ready) and we wouldn’t get to hit the sack until midnight or 1AM. It was the most exhausting, yet exhilarating three weeks of my entire life. For these three weeks we had to be ON. Meaning we had to be dressed to the nines (I still have no idea what that saying really means,) hair had to be perfect, makeup had to be flawless and guess what?! EVERYONE WAS WATCHING. Not just the people in Las Vegas, but all of the 50 other contestants (myself included) were continuously sizing each other up in their own heads. The Miss Universe Organization was looking at us through the corner of their eye too! Oh, and not to mention, Donald Trump or shall I say, Mr. President was there as well! Kinda crazy, but kinda crazy cool!

The things that I’ve learned through the crazy world of pageantry are invaluable. Although I had a difficult time recovering from such a whirlwind of a year as Miss Louisiana USA, I look back at my experience with a huge smile and my heart overflows with gratitude. I owe everything to pageantry.  I owe my career and passion to pageantry. I owe my friendships to pageantry. I owe my hobbies to pageantry. Most importantly, I owe stepping out of my comfort zone to pageantry. Now, five years later I am the co-director of one of the biggest preliminary pageants in the the state of Louisiana. I have had the opportunity to be a judge for state level pageants. One being Miss Utah USA and the other being Miss North Carolina/Miss South Carolina United States. I hope to gain a few more state level pageant judging experiences in the years to come.  As a judge, I find myself looking at a younger version of myself with every contestant that I interview. I see the authenticity of each girl and their passion for life. I see the difference that these girls want to make, not just in their own lives, but in the lives of others as well. These girls have stories. These girls have been through life altering situations that have led them to pageantry so that they can have a voice and speak for the women that might have experienced something similar. There is so much love in these women. I spent the past weekend in Charlotte, North Carolina judging a pageant and as I was sitting on the airplane trying to decompress from the weekend with anticipation to get back home, I had a humbling realization. An intense sense of awakening came over me as I realized that I have learned more in just the few short months as a pageant director/coach and a judge, than I  ever have as a contestant. To be able to look at things from a different perspective and a totally different lens has been nothing short of rewarding. These experiences are my way of giving back to what has ultimately shaped me into who I strive to be every day. Not every day is easy. In fact, I have a lot of tough days. A lot of days where I just sit and day dream about what I want my life to be like and realize that 6 hours have gone by and I haven’t accomplished a single thing on my to-do list. And then there are those days where I feel empowered and extremely proud of the woman I am becoming and that is all I could ever ask for.

Here’s to you, pageantry! You rock!

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