By Miranda Cole
What would you say if your child wanted to be in a beauty pageant? Would you encourage them to do so or is your opinion of beauty pageants so low that you wouldn’t allow it?
As “Miss Upper Midwest,” I have not only seen in myself but also other pageant contestants, a sense of our goals and ambitions, as well as the ability to gain qualities and skills in ways that the real world might not allow us to.
Many people on debate.org, a forum where people debate, express their opinions and participate in polls, believe that pageants create a young woman’s self doubt, or in extreme cases, emotional health problems.
At protests against beauty pageants, protesters wave signs that say “babies not barbies,” or, “affection not perfection.”
Many do not realize that often on TLC and ABC Family TV shows like Toddlers and Tiaras, pageants are shown in negative light, often sexualizing the contestants and focusing on the negative aspects of the pageant industry.
Having grown up in the pageant industry, I’ve noticed that often pageant contestants have more confidence as they grow up to be fantastic young adults. Many become volunteers for nursing homes and food pantries, not because it looks good, but because it feels good to help others in need.
“I now see pageants as an outlet for girls to gain confidence and alternate skills, to learn skills in the real world,” said pageant mom Jenna Lovelace.
In pageants, you can often tell who was forced into it and who truly wants to participate. I once watched a live stream of a pageant and noticed one young lady’s body language. She had very poor posture and she did not smile. It was not how one would look if they were enjoying themselves. There have been other instances that parents have been seen mocking, comparing or even speaking poorly of other contestants. Those are not anyone’s proudest moments and they should not paint anyone’s view of pageants as a whole.
The pageant world is very uplifting and empowering for many of the young people involved.
One year as a pre-teen contestant, everyone placed in the queen’s court except me and a pageant friend. We came off stage to a warm hug from not only our parents, but also from the reigning national queen. She told us that we should always remember that this was not life defining and that we have much more left in us.
Although it took me many more tries before receiving a title, I never gave up. I never gave up my goals because being a pageant contestant taught me that my goals are achievable and I should never give up on myself.
I hope that the misconceptions many have can be altered to fit the reality that many pageant contestants live in.
Given my experiences, if my child were to approach me asking if she could participate in a beauty pageant, I would not only let them, but encourage being in a pageant as much as possible.