Top 5 at the 2017 Miss America Competition (l to r): 2RU Miss New York, Camille Sims; 4RU Miss Mississippi, Laura Lee Lewis; Miss America 2017, Savvy Shields; 3RU Miss Washington, Alicia Cooper; 1RU Miss South Carolina, Rachel Wyatt - Photo: Miss America Organization/Bruce V. Boyajian
Congratulations! You are on your way to a national pageant! In case you didn’t know, this is a BIG DEAL. At this point, I’m sure you have learned a lot about backstage tricks and other unofficial rules of pageantry, such as how to glue your swimsuit in place or what to wear to appearances, but there is a little bit more that goes into a national pageant that you just have to experience to find out.
Restie is your bestie the week of your national pageant, because unfortunately you can only run on caffeine and adrenaline for so long. Eventually, and likely at the worst possible time, your fuel tank will hit empty, so make sure that you find time to recharge in the midst of the busyness. A twenty minute nap can go a long way!
Another way to squeeze in more sleep time is to avoid staying up late on your phone. Get to your room and get to bed. You will have filled your day with enough activity to make a whole week interesting, so rest assured and lay aside your FOMO (Fear of Missing Out).
2. Bring snacks
"You're not you when you're hungry." Snickers knows best. Unfortunately, it isn't best for you. You have worked too hard to neglect your health now! Keep thinking about the finish line if that helps. In the meantime, bring healthy, filling snacks to sustain you until the final night. You will be running around all day, which can either lead to skipping meals or eating unhealthy meals. Try neither of them. Stick a protein bar or other energy sustaining quick fix in your bag before you turn into a monster. Oh wait, the Snickers commercials aren't real?
3. Pack wisely
People talk about overpacking like it’s a bad thing. I would certainly rather be safe than sorry. Or better yet, make a list a few weeks before your national pageant to allow yourself plenty of time to pack and buy any last minute necessities. (Don’t zip up your suitcase without a few items from our shop to help you catch the judges’ eyes!)
4. Make new friends
To me, the network of friends you create is one of the greatest take aways from pageants! I have had some of the best conversations with other contestants at pageants. Pageant girl small talk typically consists of food, breaking news and attempting to solve all of life’s issues. More than small talk, though, is the bond you share with each contestant. You all have so much in common, no matter where you come from.
I saw an incredible quote not long ago on social media from Georgia Frazier, Miss Oklahoma 2015. She said something along the lines of, “Girls compete. Women empower each other.” Take that with you to your national pageant and everywhere else. Also, stay open to new friendships. This is a chance to meet people that will support you beyond this pageant and stay in touch with you throughout your entire life. You do not want to miss out on that, so never allow competing to keep you from enjoying yourself and the company of others.
5. Go with the flow
More than likely there will be some kind of change or misunderstanding. This could be a schedule change or an outfit you didn’t know you needed, but whatever you do and no matter how flustered you may get, never let it show. Learn to take a deep breath and roll with the punches. Any national titleholder must be able to solve problems and think quickly. One change is not the end of the world, so go with the flow! Don’t let the unexpected stress you out or distract you.
Emilee Webb, Miss Junior High School America 2015 said, “I wish someone had told me to stop and enjoy the moment while you are in it. Don’t rush and be anxious. You may never get here again! Have fun and make it a memory you will have for a lifetime.” No matter what age you are, you can take her advice!
6. Remember what you have already accomplished
What an incredible opportunity it is to be where you are! Do not forget what you have worked for and already attainted. There were hundreds of attempts by hundreds of girls to have the opportunity that you have been given (and worked quite hard for). You have no reason to doubt yourself and no right to compare yourself. One of my favorite quotes says, “A flower does not think of competing with other flowers. It just blooms.”
No matter the outcome, you have countless reasons to smile and so many blessings to count. Whether a national, state, or local titleholder, maybe not even a titleholder at all yet, you can make as big of an impact as you are willing to. Your impact is not defined by your title. If your platform or even your smile changes the life of one person, you have done something great, and you don’t need a title to prove it. Work humbly and every second work will be worth it.
7. Be transparent
Arrogance puts a wall between you and anyone you would hope to connect with. Confidence and vulnerability allow the judges to completely see who they are about to choose as the next titleholder. Be transparent. Loren McDaniel, Miss Arkansas 2015, said it this way, “When you stop worrying about being the best at every phase of competition and you enjoy every phase of competition as if it were your last, you finally realize it was about putting the best version of yourself out there for everyone to see – when you’re honest and vulnerable enough to show your true self."
And I think any local, state, and national title holder will agree that that is worth more than anything. I discovered that during my three years of competition for Miss Arkansas and then at Miss America. "Standing in the light of the stage as you and being completely honest with who you are to yourself and the audience/judges is so bold and should be applauded. Be vulnerable. Be honest. Be you. In the interview, and every time you’re on stage.”
8. Learn from this experience
Your national pageant is an opportunity to learn things you never knew about yourself… and other states. Kristen Glover-Belew, Miss Arkansas 2011, said, “I always thought that my southern accent was a negative until I competed at Miss America. They couldn’t get enough of the southern girls and loved when we said ‘y’all.’ They celebrated the diversity of the different states and welcomed our accents.”
Embrace your own differences and get excited to witness the diversity of the other states. There is so much to learn and so much you will gain from this once-in-a-lifetime experience! Now, take these eight tips and run with them! Enjoy yourself at your upcoming national pageant. You certainly have the Pageant Planet's support.
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