It’s that time of year! It's time for the Miss Texas Pageant, meaning soon, a new Miss America will be crowned! I watch the pageant every single year, and I cannot wait to watch the upcoming ceremony. I want to talk about the recent changes in the Miss America organization, but I want to share with you my experience in participating in Miss Texas back in 2011.
I did not grow up in the pageant world; I really just stumbled upon it. My voice teacher recommended it to me, as he thought I would do well. He was, at the time, the official vocal coach of the Miss Texas organization. I did a few local pageants one year, and it was a DISASTER. I did NOT know what I was getting into, but I definitely laugh about it now. It was a LOT more intense than I thought it would be, and it required a lot more work than ANYONE would ever imagine. So, I definitely had my work cut out for me.
Fast forward to 2010/2011 – I was at TCU, taking 18-19 hours of classes (while doing shows after school hours) when I decided I would try (it was the last year I was eligible) one last time to compete for a title. I went to a few people I knew for gowns, I nailed down a song, (“Don’t Rain on My Parade”), and I worked out as often as possible. I competed in 3 local pageants before I actually won a title. I actually placed, which was a good sign, and I could see improvements and my confidence growing. I knew if I won a title, I would then have directors who would help me with all aspects of the competition and prepare me for the Miss Texas Pageant. Well, I finally won one - EEK! I was crowned Miss Texarkana 2011. It was a thrilling night, with the cherry on top being that I won the Interview category! Interview is the highest scoring category, so that was a big win.
I have not discussed my college experience life in any blog posts yet, but I will say this - it was extremely hard for me, and college was when my anxiety and depression were at their worst. It was much better at this point, but I didn’t have a clue how to handle stress or adult life. The pageant world - talk about triggers for anxiety, comparison, envy, low self-worth, and FEAR. But I was proud of myself for just getting THIS FAR!
I worked my butt off. Literally. I was doing 19 hours in school, performing in Oklahoma! at TCU, going to events for Miss Texarkana (back & forth from Plano to Texarkana on weekends), working out with my trainer in McKinney, voice lessons….the list goes on. At the time, I thought I knew what eating healthy was - NO WAY. I didn’t have a “food guide;" I just wasn’t supposed to eat carbs. Then came the two-a-day workouts, practicing walking in a swimsuit with 6 inch heels, and rehearsing potential interview questions - political, personal, "solve world problems" questions. Y’all, it’s no joke. It is HARD, and any girl who gets up there is BRAVE and deserves an award for just being there. All the blood, sweat and tears that go into the preparation are beyond what I can describe to you. I was exhausted. I look back, and I really don’t know how I made it through. But I did, and even though I didn’t make the top 15, I am proud to say that I competed in Miss Texas. For me, it was all about self-growth and improvement, and that’s exactly what I did. In hindsight, I wasn’t ready to be Miss Texas. I think the IDEA was nice, and wearing the crown seemed like it would be amazing. But it is no easy job. It is an incredibly difficult job that requires an absurd amount of stamina. Personally, I think I was chasing the title and not the job. But, you live and learn, right? :)
My eyes were also opened to a whole new world of pageantry – the good and the bad. I was new and naive, so I soaked in a lot of information and just listened. Sometimes, you don’t have to say anything at all to know if someone is truly being themselves. But, we are all guilty of this, myself included. I desperately wanted to fit in and be friends with all of the girls. Pageants can truly bring out the worst in you, if you let it. Some of the girls barely ate a thing. I felt like I was the biggest one there, truly. I don’t think I could ever have a six pack, no matter how many carbs I cut out. But, that was the reality of pageants. I’m a stress eater, and with everything else that was on my plate, I caved and couldn’t quite keep up. But, I know I still worked extremely hard, and in the end, that’s all that matters!
MISS AMERICA 2.0
If you haven’t already heard, Miss America is cutting out the swimsuit and evening gown portion of the competition to be more inclusive and will NOT be judging contestants on physical appearance. I understand and I see both sides of the arguments surrounding this change. Many former contestants are not happy about it because they felt EMPOWERED by showing off how hard they worked and getting to strut their stuff in heels and then getting to show elegance in evening gown. It takes so much WORK, truly. So, I understand the frustration. But, it is also very important that all women feel like they have a fair chance! Side note - with the way social media is going, you can pretty much have a bikini pageant just on IG!? I mean, if that is what you’re looking for, go there for that I guess?! But who knows if those pictures are even real? ANYWAYS – I absolutely see both sides on this. After pageant week, you will not be seeing many of the girls being able to keep up with the same lifestyle, because life happens and that's OK. It is not reality. Now, this is all coming from a contestant that wasn’t necessarily the most confident with her body when she competed, but still. Notice how I didn't post a picture in my swimsuit? I still can't bring myself to do that. Evening gown portion is the most confusing to me because the dresses are so beautiful, and it’s a way for the women to show confidence and style. I LOVED getting to watch this mostly because I loved getting dressed up, and I love seeing all of the pageant dresses! But, at the end of the night, swimsuit and evening gown were the lowest scored parts of the competition, so how much does it really matter? I DO think that Miss America will still empower women like they always have. I am very curious to watch it all unfold. Let’s focus on what’s inside. You know what's really pretty? Your heart. Your character. The person you are inside. Hopefully, these young women can learn these valuable lessons. Our society is already filled with expectations of what young girls need to look like and wear, this might take some of the pressure off.
Just be YOU, because THAT is beautiful.
I will forever treasure my time as Miss Texarkana and all that I learned about myself, my body, stress, and what it means to truly work hard. I wish nothing but the BEST for all the girls competing and I hope they know how AMAZING it is just to be there. They should be so proud, because WOW! What an accomplishment! Now, go get that crown!!