Miss America 2017 contestants. Photo: Miss America Organization
For those who are new to the pageant world, finding information on the first initial steps can be a difficult process. Pageant preparation is, of course, an ongoing process of discovery. But finding a pageant is a hard step as well. This article is a resource to guide you in choosing your first or your next pageant. The good news is that there are so many amazing options! All you have to do is find the one that is right for you.
Browse Pageant Planet's Pageant Directory
Pageant Planet is committed to connecting the pageant world. Because of this, we have a free pageant directory that is easily accessible online. Our directory is an excellent resource for girls to find wonderful pageants everywhere. It is a great way to learn about new pageants, sort them based on what interest you, and decide which pageant you think is best for you!
Talk to a pageant coach
Pageant coaches are experts in the industry. You can schedule a consultation with a coach and discuss which pageant he or she thinks would be a good fit for you. Pageant coaches will not only be able to offer you a list of potential pageants to enter, they will also be able to go in depth about each system and what is required and judged in the competition. The knowledge of coaches is a useful tool that can help you navigate your pageant journey from choosing a pageant to winning the crown. (Read: How a Pageant Coach Can Help You Win Your Next Pageant)
If you don't have a pageant coach, visit our Pageant Coach Directory to find one near you. If you are a pageant coach, it's completely free to list your business and help pageant girls find you!
If you don't want to leave the comfort of your home to talk to a coach, try out our VIP Program to be coached by Pageant Planet's own pageant coaches.
Pageant coach Terri Bolen. Photo: Terri Bolen
Talk to pageant friends
If you have friends who have previously competed in pageants, ask them about their experiences and ask for recommendations. No advice is better than the advice from peers who have experienced the system firsthand.
If none of your close friends have competed in a pageant, post a status on your Facebook page asking for pageant recommendations. Some of your Facebook friends might be previous competitors or be able to point you in the direction of a previous competitor. (Read: Are Your Pageant Friends Helping or Hurting Your Chance of Winning?)
Now that you know some ways to find pageants, what are the criteria you should be looking for while on your search?
Who are you?
The first thing to do is to evaluate yourself. What are your best qualities? What are your dreams? What do you hope to accomplish by competing in a pageant? If your dream is to be a model, the Miss Universe Organization is a wonderful system to consider as many former titleholders have gone on to modeling careers. If you love singing and are looking for an opportunity to perform, the Miss America Organization would be a great fit for you with its heavily weighted talent competition.
There is no "typical pageant girl." The ladies who compete differ from system to system. There is bound to be a system perfect for you and your goals! (Read: 2 Questions You Must Ask Yourself to Succeed in Pageantry)
Is the pageant credible?
In a world of scams, it is important to be cautious any time you are spending a large amount of money on something. Luckily, it is easy to decipher a pageant that is credible from one that is not. The internet is our greatest tool for this. Check out the pageant's website and see how professional it looks. Its social media is important as well.
Are they active? Do they get tagged in posts and have a sizable following? Has your contact via email or over the phone been professional? These are all important questions to ask while you are in the consideration process.
This is also where it is important to seek advice from past competitors and coaches. They will know if the pageant is credible and worth the time and money that you will put into competing. (Read: Canadian Woman Scams Contestants Through Unsanctioned Pageants)
Does this system have good reviews?
Reviews can sometimes be misleading, but oftentimes they are filled with truthful insight into what the competition will be like. Another person's willingness to share their experience in detail is a valuable resource for you. Though the pageant will be a unique experience for each individual contestant, you can take tidbits of others' stories to evaluate what the system would be like for you.
How expensive is the pageant?
Unfortunately, the cost is often a deciding factor for what pageants a girl could or couldn't compete in. It is no secret that pageantry is not a cheap endeavor. Scope out the systems and see if the entry fee works in your budget. (Read: How to Budget for a Pageant)
Another factor to consider is how much you'll have to buy in preparation for this pageant. If you have already competed in a similar pageant to the one you are considering, you may already have the right wardrobe for competition weekend. But if this is your first pageant or this system differs greatly from your previous competitions, you may have to buy an entirely new wardrobe. Set a budget and make a chart of which pageants you estimate do and do not fit into that price range.
Be sure to account for additional costs outside of the required pageant fees. Keep in mind travel costs, hotel fees, luggage fees (if you are flying), hair and makeup costs, headshots, pageant coaching, spray tans, and anything else that you may need to pay for leading up to or during the pageant competition.
Keep in mind that smaller pageants will be less expensive than larger pageants. If this is your first pageant, consider starting small if money could be an issue.
Also, take a look at the requirements of the winner. Maybe you can afford this state pageant, but if the state pageant leads to a national pageant that the winner is required to attend, will you be able to afford that as well? Read all of the paperwork before committing to compete.
Does the pageant line up with my values?
All pageant systems strive to make the world a better place, but some systems will line up better with your personal passions and values than others. Some systems emphasize advocating for education while others send their titleholders to visit hospitals on a regular basis. Look at what the current titleholders are doing as appearances and see if that is something you would love to do and advocate for. It is important to remember that pageantry far extends past the crowning moment. You will be a titleholder for that system for an entire year. (Read: How to Choose the Right Platform for You)
How would you like to spend your year? Does this particular system emphasize the issues that are important to you? Do they have the resources to aid you in making a difference in your particular platform? These questions are vital because they will affect how you will spend your year. Make sure you go wherever you feel your passions and talents are able to do the greatest amount of good. Pageantry is an amazing opportunity to extend your heart for service to a large number of people. (Read: How To Turn Your Passion Into A Successful Pageant Platform)
Jessica Baeder, Miss America's Outstanding Teen 2018, visits children. Photo: Miss America's Outstanding Teen
In the age of the internet, finding pageants is much easier than it has ever been. Though it is still a difficult task, I am confident you will find the perfect competition for you! You just have to get to know yourself and get to know the systems. With research and recommendations, you'll be on your way to your next pageant in no time. (Read: How to Choose a New Pageant System When You Have Aged Out)
Written by Jade Spilka
Tip: "Have confidence in yourself, you weren't made to be anyone else."Learn More