By Emily Jackson
The lights are bright and the moment has come to announce the winners. Standing there in the final dress of the night, white, short and poufy with ruffles and pearls, freshman Kiara Carriger waits to see how she is rated in this state’s beauty pageant.
Third place is called and she is left to wait, second place and finally first place is called. And it’s her!
This feeling of success has come to Carriger three times that she can remember, winning beauty pageants in Michigan, Texas and Nevada. Carriger started competing in beauty pageants when she learned to walk, at the age of nine months old.
When she was young Carriger described the pageants as just work. So at the age of six she asked her parents if she could quit.
After watching shows like “Toddlers and Tiaras” and “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” it makes sense that there are running debates about whether children should able to participate in beauty pageants before they are in school. Girls from ages six months to sixteen years old normally participate in these child pageants.
Those people against the pageants claim that they make the children think that looks are all that matters. Dissenters are also afraid that pageants will make the children narcissistic or self-centered.
People who support the pageants say that they help the children get a competitive nature and give them more possibilities for college scholarships if they stick with it.
According to Kareen Nussbaum from the website A Minor Consideration, “the pageantry world helps introduce a face to the faceless troubles of racism, handicaps, and illnesses.”
Pageants welcome people of all races and handicaps. During the end of segregation the first African American woman became Miss America and in 1994 the first handicap woman won the same title. These pageants allow society to stop looking at what’s wrong with a person and instead see that beauty can come from anywhere.
Kiara Carriger realized after years of not competing in pageants that they may be a lot of work, but she really loved them. Three years ago Carriger started to compete again. She really appreciated her parents starting her early, even if she didn’t stay with it.
“If I hadn’t started early, I wouldn’t have done it,” said Carriger.
Pageants have become something that Kiara now enjoys and practices all year round. She only practices during the school year because of the stressful work load. Carriger then competes and travels over the summer. Her favorite part of the pageants is the traveling, not simply because she gets to go new places but because she gets to learn about new cultures.
“I like to meet different people,” said Carriger.
One of her most memorable pageants was when she got to research the Chinese culture and use that in her performance here in Kalamazoo. Carriger wore a traditional Cheongsam and learned the Chinese art of using a fan.
Pageants aren’t always taken very seriously, but it’s a competition. There is always a winner and Kiara likes to be number one.
“I like to compete, I’m a competitive person,” she said with a smile.
From the look in her eye it is obvious that she really enjoys the whole experience. From the practices to the preparation of hair and clothes to walking on the stage and finally hearing the judges’ decision.