It's no secret that pageant girls love to give back. That's why so many contestants have a pageant platform, or a cause that a contestant or titleholder dedicates their time to working on or giving back to. With so many causes out there, how does anyone choose just one pageant platform? How do you get ideas for a pageant platform? And once you figure all that out, how do you promote your pageant platform? Don't fret, we've got all the answers for you right here.
Miss Universe 2019 contestants volunteering at the Children's Hospital of Atlanta. Photo: Miss Universe Organization
A pageant platform is an integral part of becoming a contestant and a reigning queen once you win the title that you are after! Becoming a contestant or a titleholder for a pageant gives you a stage to stand on to bring a certain cause or issue to light. Participating in pageantry is about more than just a crown and sash; your voice and your actions can influence so many more people than you realize and having a sparkly hat and sash can help to amplify anything that you want to bring to light.
The way pageant platforms are implemented can take on many shapes and forms, but it’s all up to you on how you want your year as a contestant or a titleholder to be. Your platform could supplement an existing charity, like the American Heart Association or Shatterproof, or you could start the path to create your own organization. If you have decided to work with an organization, you could begin to volunteer your time with these organizations if it is not something that you already have a personal connection with. Volunteer work has always been at the forefront of competing in beauty pageants, so be prepared to do as much work as possible!
Everyone either has a cause or has heard a story that pulls on your heartstrings and makes you want to help as much as humanly possible. This is exactly what having a platform can do! By championing a cause, having a platform provides you with the opportunity to make a difference, and even though you may feel that your impact is small, once you become a titleholder, it is very much so amplified on a local, state, national, and international level! Having such a platform can bring meaning to your time in pageantry, and can get you started on the path to volunteerism if you weren’t involved before.
Having a pageant platform is also the perfect way to increase your marketability to the judges to ensure that you stand out amongst the dozens of contestants. Even if your platform is about another cause that another contestant champions as well, it is all about how you speak about your platform and work towards ensuring that the issue that you want to be solved will one day be solved that can differentiate you from others. Mayelin De La Cruz Gutierrez, Miss Grand New Jersey 2019, says this about platforms, “A platform is ideal for a contestant to have because you can learn so much from what they support and what they choose to advocate for.”
Need more information on what a pageant platform is and what it should mean to you? Listen to Steven and Jesse break it down for you in the podcast, "What is a Pageant Platform and How Do You Develop It?"
No matter what, if you create a pageant platform, make sure that you are actually working towards your goal. When a contestant creates a platform and does nothing to make a change, it can be noticeable from a mile away that they are not actually working towards their supposed goal. Your platform should be a cause that you can easily spend hours discussing and volunteering for. When you choose a topic that you love and are passionate about, everyone can see the passion from miles away!
Depending upon your system, you may also have to write an essay or a speech about your platform and the work you’ve put in towards achieving the end goal of your platform. This is why being passionate is absolutely necessary. Even if you are not the greatest writer, when you begin to write speeches about your work, the passion towards solving your platform goal will have the ink flowing out of your pen faster than you can say ‘butt glue’!
Below is a video showing Catriona Gray, Miss Universe 2018, talk about her platform during the opening statements round at Miss Universe 2019. Even though she only had thirty seconds, in those seconds she elaborated upon what her platform was and how it will influence the youth.
Learn more about Catriona's strong platform work and her pageant story through a podcast, "A True Queen: The Story of Catriona Gray":
Not having a pageant platform is like joining a sports team, becoming the captain, and benching yourself from all the games. You’re restricting yourself from being able to achieve the absolute best without a pageant platform. If you decide not to embark upon having a pageant platform, you’re limiting your reach as a contestant and are at risk for not having much to do as a titleholder. Competing in pageants is more than just being a beautiful face, it’s about being a representative for your community and having a platform can help you achieve just that.
Depending upon your organization, your platform can be a mandatory part of your reign, like for Miss America 2.0, where in its 99-year history, every single contestant must form a pageant platform with an amazing title. Other organizations, such as Miss USA or Queen Beauty USA, have their organizations be open-ended as to where a contestant can decide if she’d like to pursue a larger cause or have her title be more career-oriented. No matter the organization, having a pageant platform ensures that as a contestant and titleholder, you are a well-rounded individual that wants to make a larger impact on her community and the world that surrounds her.
As mentioned before, having a platform is integral to making your year of service, whether as a contestant or as a titleholder, worth the effort. Now, is it absolutely necessary to have as a pageant contender? Many girls who have signed up for their first pageant have not embarked upon a platform and won. Many girls who are titleholders only use their titles to achieve personal fame and establish a modeling career from having their titles. It is absolutely possible to coast on through your pageant journey without having a platform, but you will have missed an opportunity to make a lasting impact in someone’s life. With a platform, you could accomplish so many more appearances and talks than without one, which means if you go without, the possibilities of creating a legacy decrease. Take this into consideration if you decide that not having a platform is your best option.
Miss Teen USA Kaliegh Garris AND Miss USA Cheslie Kryst at the Annual Best Buddies Leadership Conference. Photo: Miss Universe Organization
Generally speaking, there are as many potential pageant platform ideas as there are people on the planet, as well as human experiences and experiences that motivate us. It truly is endless! Choosing a platform is something that you should really take some time to explore. And, you may find that you change your mind a few times about your platform. That is totally normal, and it’s ok.
Some people know immediately what they want to do for their pageant platform, and others need to do some soul searching first. In fact, the majority of contestants go through a period of looking into different platform ideas, asking themselves a lot of questions about what the feel most motivated to change in the world. Because that is what it really boils down to. A platform is simply about solving a problem of some kind.
You’re going to be spending a lot of time with your platform, years perhaps. You have to know who you are, what your values are and what it is that you want to change in this world. It’s surprising how often contestants choose a platform just because it “seems interesting” or is something that shows up in their lives, and they impulsively act on it.
For instance, they decide that they should select a disease because they have a family member that suffers from that disease. Or they choose “bullying’ because they were bullied as a child, and it’s a popular platform, so it seems like a good idea. But, just because your Grandfather grumbles about his gout, or some mean girls harassed you during junior high or on social media, does not mean that those are ideal platform ideas for you.
It has to be something that you want to invest in, work tirelessly for and put energy into for the long haul. It should never be something that you just “put on” for the sake of a pageant competition, because you think the judges will approve of it or just because you want to win a title. It really should not be something that you “put on” at all!
A good platform is something that comes out from you, so to speak, naturally and easily. After all, it is a cause, mission or charity that you have a deeply personal stake in or a deep affinity for. Your platform is the foundation of your service work (whatever that looks like) and it’s the cornerstone of your strategic marketing campaign, so what you choose is of the utmost importance.
But, please don’t stress out over it. We are here to walk you through the process, and when we’re done you should be feeling a lot clearer about the direction that you want to go in.
One point that we must clear up before we go any further is something that so many people get confused about, and if you don’t get this part right, you will end up looking like an amateur.
What you must understand is that a platform is not an organization. Many pageant girls will say that their platform is, “The Red Cross”, when in reality, their platform is not actually “The Red Cross,” because the Red Cross is an organization. You have to really think about what your platform is, not where you volunteer or serve. Your platform is your cause or mission, not the name of the charity affiliated with your cause or mission.
The best way to think about and brand your platform, by the way, is to identify your platform by a sentence or statement. What would you call your platform if it were a book, for example? You would not call it, “The Red Cross.” Why? Because, that would indicate that book was about the organization itself. Is that your platform? Are you educating people about the history of the Red Cross?
“Why is this such a big deal?” you ask.
Well, suppose that you are competing in a pageant with 25 other girls and three of those girls are saying that, “The Red Cross” is their platform. Are all three of you the same? Do you all have the same platform? Most likely you do not. Even if you all three volunteer your time at your local Red Cross, I bet that what you do, how you do it and what you really care about is very individual to each of you.
Now, that we’ve got that cleared up. Let’s find you the perfect platform!
We’ve decided to give you an overview of some success platforms from the past few years so you can see how the pros have implemented their platforms to have the biggest impact.
If you are a pageant gal who has a soft spot for our furry, finned or feathered friends, a platform that is focused on animals is a fun and motivating way to help the creatures that we share the planet with.
There are so many platform ideas in this category, that we cannot possibly cover them all!
The good news is that there are also tons of organizations around the world that are centered on helping, caring for and saving our animal friends, so it’s very easy to locate other people who have the same priorities that you do. And, because there are so many types of pro-animal causes, you can find one that fits exactly what you want to do.
Are you motivated to save an endangered species? Is your thing finding families for the homeless cuties in animal shelters? Or, is it your mission to ensure that no animal should ever be abandoned by their owners?
Miss America 2014 Nina Davuluri, adored animals, so she encouraged the public to adopt a cat or a dog instead of purchasing a pet from a breeder. Her pageant platform was, “Celebrating Diversity Through Cultural Competency,” and her motto was, “Celebrate diversity and adopt a mutt.”
Miss America 2014 Nina Davuluri. Photo American Bazaar Online
Every year millions of cats and dogs are placed into animal shelters, and a majority are euthanized because there are not enough good homes available. By choosing adoption over buying from a breeder you can help save lives. A few of the organizations that you might volunteer with if you want to get involved in this area and meet other people who share your passion are Paws, Petsmart or your local animal shelter.
In recent years, pageant platforms that promote the arts or art education in some form have become increasingly more popular. This might have to do with the fact that so many pageant contestants and titleholders are genuinely and remarkably talented people.
Add to that, that frequently, pageants require their contestants to perform a talent during competition, and oftentimes, that talent score is a substantial amount of the total. Therefore, if you want to do well in that type of a pageant, then you’d better be pretty adept at your talent.
Pageants have always attracted young ladies who have substantial talent and who are also interested in education. The Miss America organization is no longer considered a pageant, but they still offer contestants the opportunity to earn scholarship awards to fund their education. And, they have increased the percentage of the talent score, so talent has become an even more prominent feature to that competition.
It’s no wonder that so many of the ladies who have participated in the Miss America pageant in the past have been world class performers in their given field. And, many of those titleholders decided to combine their love of the arts with education.
Take for example the current Miss America 2019 Nia Franklin, whose platform is called “Advocating for the Arts”.
She earned a Masters degree in Music Composition; she is a classically trained opera singer and she endeavors to use her voice and the power of music to transform lives through art.
As the winner of Miss America, she has been able to do just that.
Nia was only five years old when she wrote her very first song. And, one of the coolest things that Nia did while she was Miss America, was to re-record that song and then sell it online through the MAO website. Then, she arranged for all of the proceeds to go directly to benefit The Children’s Miracle Network.
What an incredible way to “think outside the box” and use your platform to benefit the pageant that you are representing!
“In the last three months, one of the biggest highlights of being Miss America has been being able to use my voice to share the importance of arts in education from speaking in schools across the country to performing at the Lincoln Center and to taking every media opportunity to continue expressing just how vital the arts are in schools,” she said in a social media post in December 2018.
Miss America 2019 Nia Franklin. Photo: Associated Press
The subject of bullying has grown so big over recent years, that you can’t watch a pageant these days without seeing at least one contestant that has adopted bullying in one form or another as her personal platform.
There is nothing wrong with having an anti-bullying platform, if that is what you feel drawn to. But, we suggest that if you do adopt this subject as your pageant platform, that you really think through what you want to do with it, and make sure that you have a solid connection to the topic.
If you have your mind made up on the topic of bullying for your platform, take some time to get clear on why this is so important to you. Have you had a traumatic experience as a result of someone treating you badly? How have you been able to overcome and get through the difficult aspects of being bullied? What specific ideas do you have for how people can combat the problem of bullying and become a kinder, more accepting society?
It’s always a good idea to find a specific niche with regard to a popular platform subject like bullying. You want to be able to set yourself apart, and show that you are an individual.That way you can really personalize it in a way that makes it unique and attention getting.
Miss Dominican Republic 2015, Clarissa Molina. Photo: Instagram
The business world is ripe with platform ideas, especially if your career goals or line of work coincide in some way with your cause.
Women are still continually fighting for equal rights and opportunities in the business arena, and who better to embrace and understand that fight than someone who is in the trenches day after day?
If you are currently employed in a corporate environment or you are working towards a business related degree, then you likely have endless contacts available to you that can help support your platform work.
Just think of what can come from your networking efforts! It’s an exciting time to explore volunteering in this area, and you will absolutely feel rewarded for your efforts, as you help other women achieve their own goals.
Some of the platform topics related to business, just to name a few, are women mentoring women, entrepreneurship and philanthropy.
And, depending on your particular passion and niche, there are so many wonderful organizations that you can get involved with such as, “Dress for Success”, “Goodwill” and “Jobs For the Future”.
There is also a charity called, “Career Gear”. This charity does for men what Dress for Success does for women. They provide professional clothing, mentoring and life-skills to help low-income men get the clothing and toiletries they need for job interviews. There are several locations on the East Coast and in various parts of the Southern U.S.
In fact, our current Miss USA 2019, Cheslie Kryst, is a huge supporter of the non-profit, “Dress for Success”.
As most of us know, Cheslie is an attorney specializing in complex civil litigation, which gives her a unique ability to inspire, mentor and empower the women that she is helping. But, she found a very unique way to combine her passion for fashion with her personal drive in the business world, and empower women from her very individualized point of view.
In addition to being an active Dress for Success volunteer, Cheslie authors a fascinating blog, “White Collar Glam”, that provides modern corporate fashion inspiration and work related resources for women. Cheslie’s desire to help other women with their wardrobe stems from “years of internships and full-time experience in corporate America”.
Cheslie’s pageant platform had its early beginnings when she was still in college.
For her senior thesis in undergrad, she conducted research on body image and clothing design. She used her research and a $1,500 grant from the Honors College to design and construct a line of evening gowns for women with varying body types.
Then, in 2016, Cheslie won the “Rock the Runway” design competition, a fundraiser sponsored by Goodwill. She designed and constructed a line of eveningwear out of clothing purchased from Goodwill. Cheslie also created a ball gown out of newspaper for the competition!
Isn’t that cool?
This modern woman managed to combine her career and business acumen with her love of fashion and femininity in a way that showed she was bright and ambitious without losing any of her feminine appeal. She then pulled on her creative design skills and her proclivity as a social media influencer, and ultimately forged a service oriented purpose and platform that was undeniably her own.
Cheslie’s one-of-a-kind brand of beauty, brains and business is so attractive to other females, and the fact that she is such a transparent and down to earth gal, despite her accomplishments, makes her an ideal role model for today’s generation.
Cheslie’s obviously enamored the judges at Miss USA, and she consistently demonstrates that today’s pageant queen can be a titleholder who is relevant and relatable, while still being a whole bunch of fun!
Miss USA 2019 Cheslie Kryst. Photo: White Collar Glam
A platform that revolves around serving children in some way is such a special and sweet way to help the innocent, little beings in our world.
Children are so deserving of our help and attention because they are often victims of situations and circumstances that they cannot control. It takes a tender heart to want to make a difference in the lives of little ones. If you are an empathetic person, who has the desire to impact a young life, then you’ll probably find your dream platform in this category.
Platforms that are related to children can often be cross referenced with other categories as well.
For example, you may want to help children who are growing up in poverty, like our current Miss Universe 2018, Catriona Gray does.
She won her crown on a platform of supporting youth care and education in her native Philippines. Miss Universe advocates for the group, “Young Focus”, a non-government organization working towards making education accessible to the children of Smokey Mountain dumpsite communities, which is a slum in Tondo, Manila. Proceeds from Catriona’s music helped to build a preschool and childcare center for Young Focus, and also provided meals for families and children so they could celebrate Christmas with food on their table.
Or, perhaps you feel compelled to help children who are experiencing some kind of abuse. If that is the case, then make sure that you think through how exactly you want to assist them. It requires a lot of strength, maturity and healthy boundaries to get involved with children who have been hurt because if you are a sensitive person, it can be very painful for you as well.
Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray in the slums of Tondo. Photo: Philstar
A pageant like The International Pageant System is an organization that puts a major emphasis on service work and platforms, so it’s no surprise that two of their well known national titleholders in the Mrs. Division, embraced platforms that focused on helping suffering children.
Mrs. International 2013 Amy Gregorio found her passion and platform as a CASA, or Court Appointed Special Advocate. After spending years covering the fallout of abuse and neglect as an Emmy nominated TV journalist for CBS, CNN, and Fox, she took a step back from broadcasting and researched ways to use her skills on behalf of abused and neglected children. She is still part of CASA’s Speaker’s Bureau and serves as a National CASA Ambassador. Her involvement with her platform allowed her to partner with Prevent Child Abuse America and Child Help.
Mrs. International 2017 Melissa Pocza, advocated for abused children through her own program, Broken Little Voices, which raises awareness of child abuse issues through a free APP that provides support and resources for child abuse survivors. She was also aligned with the National Child Advocacy Center's "It's My Body Campaign," and worked to initiate similar programs into community outreach organizations during her year of service as Mrs. International.
Mrs. International 2013 Amy Gregorio collecting toys for foster children in L.A. Photo Facebook
Your platform does not have to be limited to one organization or one area of concern. If you just want to help kids, you can get involved in all kinds of service organizations or missions that are making a difference in the lives of children worldwide.
If you grew up in foster care, are a parent to an adopted child or just feel inspired to help in that area, then check out an organization that is tied to foster care, adoption or some other form of
child advocacy. There are never enough volunteers or advocates for these types of organizations, and there are countless children who are desperately in need of a loving home.
If you have a place in your heart for the holidays, you can make Christmas extra special for kids by joining up with the Marines and their, “Toys for Tots” drive. Or, if you want to expand your reach worldwide, but you don’t own a sleigh, then why not partner with Samaritan’s Purse and give a gift to a child overseas who has never had one through, “Operation Christmas Child”.
Maybe you would prefer to get involved with children in a way that is not quite so serious, but you still want to make a major impact in a child’s life. No problem! There is nothing that says that you can’t have fun while volunteering.
Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Best Buddies and the Boys & Girls Clubs of America are always on the lookout for people to come hang out with their clients. You have so many options through these places, too. You can help to facilitate a class, volunteer to tutor a child who needs help with their homework, teach a skill that you know or just show up on the weekends and play hoop! It does not have to be complicated. You just have to care.
Mrs. International 2017 Melissa Pocza at the "Broken Little Voices Child Advocacy Center. Photo: Melissa Pocza
Kendra Hale has been involved in pageants for many years and most recently held the title of 2018-2019 National American Miss.
Like the majority of pageant girls, Kendra Hale has been involved with a lot of service organizations throughout her time in pageantry.
She has gotten involved in a variety of levels and capacities with charities such as the Open Book Project, Butterfly Hugs, Knit a Square, Relay for Life, Give Kids the World, and Ronald McDonald House.
In fact, she was even a recipient of the Gold Level Presidential Volunteer Service Award (the highest you can achieve) because she donated over 250 hours of unpaid acts of volunteer service benefiting others, within a 12 month period!
How is that for impressive, huh? And, she even received a personal thank you letter from the President of the United States!
Despite Kendra’s intense involvement with a variety of charities and causes, the personal project that she is most passionate about is the one that she herself created.
She calls it, “Healing Hearts”, and it’s a platform that is dedicated to enhancing the lives of others.
Originally aimed at helping hospital patients and their families, Kendra has now expanded her original vision to helping the lives of everyone she can.
(The word, “H.E.A.R.T.S.” stands for “Helping, Encouraging, Achieving, Reading, Teaching, and Supporting.”)
Kendra’s main focus with Healing Hearts is to use literacy as one of the mechanisms to achieve her goal of touching others.
Through her charity, Kendra has donated over 2,000 books to underprivileged children and adults.
Kendra explains the personal feelings and beliefs that drive what she does;
“I live beside several counties that have high poverty rates. I feel a very strong connection and desire to serve these counties. I have chosen to serve the people in this area by collecting and donating books to those in need. I do this because of a strong sense of citizenship and desire to serve my community. “
Kendra has also started a companion program that allows people to get in touch with their “artsy” side, while still helping others.
She collected over 1,000 handmade butterflies that were created by people across the United States. The butterflies were then attached with a note of encouragement and placed in hospitals, cancer centers, nursing homes, etc. around the country.
Whether it’s collecting books or decorating craft butterflies for patients, Kendra insists that “Healing Hearts” has a place for everyone.
National American Miss 2019 Kendra Hale. Photo: Facebook
The category of health and disease related platforms is probably the largest and most diverse of all of the platform categories.
Unfortunately, there are a plethora of diseases and illnesses that afflict human beings. But, the great news is that there are thousands of organizations and foundations around the world that exist to educate, support and lift up those who are affected by them.
From severe diseases like cancer and Aids to mental health related issues like depression or eating disorders, and even subjects like organ donation, if you have a sincere desire to serve those who are suffering, then this category may be a good match for you.
Pageant systems and their connection to medical charities
Miss America 2019 Nia Franklin. Photo: CMN
Many pageant systems have dedicated their organization and the work of their titleholders to enriching the lives of people affected by various diseases. They are most often affiliated with charities associated with medical issues, or are sponsored by them.
Miss America has been associated with “The Children’s Miracle Network”, and every woman who becomes Miss America, accepts the responsibility of being their ambassador. Most of the candidates who participate in the organization also enjoy getting involved with the annual fund raisers associated with the CMN, such as Dairy Queen’s Miracle Treat Day campaign and Free Pancake Day at IHOP.
The Miss Universe Organization partners with several different charities related to medical issues as well. They support Smile Train, GMHC and AID FOR AIDS, and the winner of Miss Universe spends her year traveling overseas to spread messages about the control of diseases, peace, and public awareness of AIDS.
Smile Train is an international children’s charity with a sustainable approach to a single, solvable problem: cleft lip and palate. Cleft repair surgery is simple, and the transformation is immediate.
GMHC is a not-for-profit, volunteer-supported and community-based organization committed to leading the fight against AIDS on a national platform. They provide prevention and care services to men, women and families that are living with, or affected by HIV/AIDS in New York City.
AID FOR AIDS International is a non-profit organization committed to improving the quality of life of people living with HIV/AIDS in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray visiting a child with a cleft lip. Photo: Smile Train
Aside from pageant systems making medical issues a priority of service, titleholders around the world have always been drawn to supporting these types of causes because by and large, the type of people who get involved in pageantry are givers.
And, for many of these ladies, their platform was born out of their own personal experiences.
Miss Montana 2012 Alexis Wineman, was the first woman ever with autism to compete in the Miss America pageant. Alexis inspired the Autism community and demonstrated that there is hope for people on the spectrum to be able to attain whatever their dreams are. Today she travels the country as a motivational speaker, continuing to encourage others to not be limited by their diagnosis.
Miss Manatee River 2019 Rachel Barcellona. Photo: CNN
Rachel Barcellona is a beautiful and inspiring pageant girl with autism. She is an active advocate for people with disabilities and her platform “The Ability Beyond Disability” is concentrated on autism and other disabilities.
Currently, Rachel is the international spokesperson for the Center for Autism and Related Disabilities (CARD) at the University of South Florida and was recently elected to their executive board of directors. She was named ambassador for the Unicorn Children’s Foundation and works with this international organization to help people with neurodiversity. She is a member of the International Thespian Honor Society and is an honor student and vocalist who loves to sing opera.
Rachel has won the titles of: Miss Largo’s Outstanding Teen in 2014, Miss Florida Collegiate in 2015, Miss Florida International in 2016 and Miss Southeast International 2017. And, in 2019 she competed in the Miss America system and represented her native Florida as Miss Manatee River 2019.
If you’re interested in finding out more about the cause of Autism, there are organizations like Autism Speaks, the Autism Society of America and Autism Outreach Inc. that would love to get you involved.
As Miss America 2011, Teresa Scanlan worked to promote the Miss America Organization and the organizations that it partners with, such as the national platform of Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, and her personal platform on eating disorders, “Eating Disorders: A Generation at Risk”
Miss America 2011 Teresa Scanlan. Photo: Pinterest
Teresa’s passion to combat eating disorders stems from a friend who struggled with bulimia. Teresa did extensive research about eating disorders for her friend and discovered just how rampant it was across the nation.
Her goal as the national titleholder was to educate children and adults alike as to the signs and risks of eating disorders, as well as how and where to get help for themselves or a loved one.
During her year as Miss America, Teresa travelled an incredible 20,000 miles per month, educating and counseling students and young adults about eating disorders, a platform that she advocates for to this day.
Additionally, she spent time as a spokesperson and advocate for many other organizations and causes including the Heart Association, the American Cancer Society, Youth Service America, and the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders
Teresa is now making her mark as a mentor and full-time public speaker, continuing to focus on the two areas of pageantry that she initially fell in love with: continued personal growth and development and being able to reach and impact other people.
Miss Pageant Planet Lauren Forbes. Photo: Facebook
Lauren Forbes is the first crowned Miss Pageant Planet, 2018 Miss Massachusetts East Coast USA Photogenic Supreme and "Spirit Award" recipient of Miss Massachusetts USA 2018.
Lauren is also a first year medical school student, with a goal of obtaining her Doctor of Medicine (MD) and pursue her dream career of becoming a pediatric neuro-oncologist.
Lauren is also a survivor of anorexia nervosa.
And, as a survivor of the disease, she is committed to trying to raise awareness of the debilitating nature of eating disorders, and to spread the message to young girls that "Self-confidence is the single most important thing in the key to happiness.
Lauren serves as the official Massachusetts advocate for both the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) and Multi-Service Eating Disorder Association (Meda).
In addition to her other commitments, she found time to work alongside the Massachusetts State House on policy changes. In January of 2018, she worked one-on-one with the state senator and was instrumental in seeing the very first house bill passed in the state of Massachusetts regarding eating disorder awareness.
Her platform is built upon the idea that "every individual should feel comfortable in their own skin."
Lauren says that her main objective is to remind all that have struggled and that are currently struggling with eating disorders that, "There is a beautiful life after recovery," and that “individuals of any size can feel confident enough in their own skin to pursue any dream imaginable. Size does not define beauty. Appearance does not define beauty. Every individual is beautiful in her own unique way.”
Miss Massachusetts East Coast USA Photogenic Supreme Lauren Forbes. Photo: Creative Sparks Imagery
Another titleholder whose platform came from her own medical experience is Miss Washington World America 2019, Shree Saini. Shree has held many titles in the years that she has been involved in pageantry. She was Miss India Worldwide 2018, Miss India USA 2017 and prior to that countless titles in the Miss America system. Shree is a facial burns survivor and a heart patient, and has had a pacemaker since she was 12 years old.
Shree’s platform is all about heart health and emotional wellbeing, and she is an incredible volunteer, logging an astounding amount of volunteer hours, and earning numerous awards for giving her time to many organizations including the American Heart Association and The Hope Heart Institute.
Tragically, during the Miss World America pageant in Las Vegas, she collapsed just as she was preparing to go onstage for the final round of the national competition. But, that didn’t stop this queen. Shree was given 5 pageant awards that night, even though she spent the remainder of the week in the hospital.
During the three nights that she was hospitalized she had 80 well-wishers visit her, 100 some international newspapers covering her collapse, and thousands of emails from around the globe.
The attention that Shree Saini received wasn’t because she collapsed at a pageant. It was because of her commitment to a platform, and because of all the people that she has impacted with her story and years of service.
Miss Washington World America 2019 Shree Saini. Photo: Facebook
The problems and disorders under the umbrella of “mental health” are varied and include everything from suicide awareness to eating disorders. In our modern society, these issues are so prevalent that most everyone can say that they know someone who has struggled with one of these issues at one time or another.
Sadly, we are hearing more and more about the increase in depression, anxiety and mental health disorders in the world. And, while it is extremely sad to think of all these poor souls who are suffering, the plus side is that all of this media coverage is bringing attention to an area that has been severely stigmatized in the past.
Two titleholders who have had intimate knowledge of depression and the resulting feelings of pain and isolation are Miss Black USA 2018 Kelsi Horn and Miss Global 2018 Sophia Ng.
Not only did Kelsi want to bring awareness to a range of mental disorders, but she is very passionate about dispelling the stigmas around mental health and also specifically wanted to speak to how often they affect young Black women.
Kelsi explained that her college roommate attempted suicide and she got to see firsthand how devastating to consequences of depression was to her friend.
“I saw so many young women struggling with mental health issues, trying to be perfect and taking on way too much pressure.”
Kelsi believes social media is a culprit in the pressure young women apply to themselves.
“Young women are often comparing themselves against the accomplishments or achievements of others,” she explains. “Everything from how they look to what they’ve accomplished is judged against someone else, and that isn’t healthy.”
When asked who her role models were growing into womanhood, she explains why she was able to avoid some of the pitfalls social media offers.
“My role models are my Mom, my aunts and other family members. I had strong women around me that I could look to for guidance and leadership,” she says. That support system kept her from falling victim to some of the issues young women succumb to who don’t have such a strong family unit.
Being crowned Miss Black USA 2018 gave Kelsi a very powerful opportunity to speak positively to younger women across the country, and for that she is grateful.
“My favorite part of this journey by far is the opportunity to speak to young women across the country and to be able to encourage them,” she says. “I want them to know that they are perfect just as they are, and they don’t need to compare themselves to anyone. I want to encourage them to be aware of their mental health and to realize there is no shame in going to talk to someone. There is nothing wrong with getting help. In the end, it could save their life.”
“It’s important to prioritize self-care. Young women should know that taking care of themselves is just as important as achieving any other type of success,” she says.
Miss Black USA 2018 Kelsi Horn. Photo: PBS
Miss Global 2018 Sophia Ng was born in Vancouver, Canada and had dreams and aspirations to play volleyball professionally.
However, at age 16, a sport related injury led to a complete left-knee reconstructive surgery. Bed ridden for months, the psychological toll of a shattered dream and recovering body led to an eventual downward depressive spiral. A friend urged Ng to get the help she needed and it was through the transformative power of therapy that she found a new sense of purpose.
As a professional therapist she works with children and teenagers from age 5-19, and does individual counseling for those who suffer from a diagnosed mental health disorder (major depressive disorder, attention deficit hyperactive disorder etc).
Ng was unsure as to what pageants could offer her already budding career in mental health, but, she began to realize that she could use her platform to further her passion of wanting to de-stigmatize mental health especially amongst the Asian American community.
She has inspired hundreds of students who have taken her message back to their own communities to evoke change in the negative attitudes about seeking mental health services, and how to help a loved one who is showing signs of depression.
As Miss Global 2018, Ng’s primary goals were to continue to de-stigmatize mental health through advocacy and education, and to foster more open dialogue about mental health problems in a culturally sensitive manner. In addition, she is passionate about women’s empowerment and creating spaces where women can support each other and inspire the next generation to continue this path.
Miss Global 2018 Sophia Ng. Photo Miss Global
According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, A total of 552,830 people were experiencing homelessness on a single night in 2018.
This number represents 17 out of every 10,000 people in the United States.
Most people experiencing homelessness are individuals (67 percent). The remainder (33 percent) are people in families with children.
However, there has been a general downward trend over the last decade. Since 2007, homelessness decreased by 15 percent.
Unfortunately, this problem does not appear to be going away any time soon, and more and more contestants are choosing to address the issue of homelessness as their pageant platform.
Thankfully, there are a substantial number of agencies and organizations that are available to partner with, but the reality is that you do not have to have a huge network of people to help you get started.
In fact, you can make a major difference in the lives of homeless individuals just by being willing to show up.
That’s just what Miss Washington Teen USA 2019 Lily Lloyd did.
Lily started a non-profit called, “The Smize Foundation”, which is a nonprofit corporation that connects high school students with local food banks to provide donations, volunteer opportunities and awareness of community outreach. Lily’s title is CEO.
It’s very impressive for a 16 year old girl, isn’t it?
Miss Washington Teen USA 2019 Lily Lloyd. Photo: Lily Lloyd Instagram
But, what’s even more impressive than her ambition and her title is what she’s doing when nobody else is watching.
Lily has dedicated over 400 volunteer hours serving her community through the non-profit that she created.
She literally works every single day from 9:00 in the morning until 1:00 in the afternoon packing up donations, sorting food and supplies, then delivering all of it to the park where she serves the homeless and other people who come to get fed.
Once she arrives at the location, she then organizes all of the different service stations that people use once they show up. She offers places where people can get washed up, get themselves some warm coats or clothing and select books, all for free.
Sometimes she serves 120 people in a day and some days it’s 50. But, every single day, she is there.
She shows up. And, this one fact is the singularly most impressive thing about Lily Lloyd.
She shows up for the homeless, the ignored, the forgotten, the invisible and for the disenfranchised.
She shows up for these people when nobody else does. She shows up because she believes that she can make a difference. And, she does.
And, so can you.
Of course, you don’t have to start your own non-profit to help make a difference for the homeless population. All you have to do is make yourself available.
There are likely churches in your area right now that are serving meals or collecting donations like coats, clothing and food.
Or, check out organizations like The Salvation Army, Goodwill, Association of Gospel Rescue Missions, StandUp for Kids and local shelters in your area.
Miss America 2015 Kira Kazanstsev. Photo: Safe Horizon
This category encompasses an extensive array of issues related to women, including everything from body positivity and self-defense to raising awareness of human trafficking and domestic violence and sexual assault.
In recent years, several noteworthy titleholders have created dynamic and powerful platforms that not only won them a significant title, but brought a lot of public attention and support to their individual causes.
Additionally, the “Me Too” and the “No More” movements have also created opportunities for pageant contestants to explore a whole new genre of platform ideas related to female empowerment, that they may have been reluctant to promote in the past.
The vast media coverage and candid admissions of harassment and assault by countless celebrities has created an open environment to discuss issues that were off limits previously.
The stark reality is that 1 in 3 women experience sexual assault or domestic violence at some point in their lives, so it’s time that our society comes to terms with the damage of this epidemic and that we start aggressively seeking a solution.
Prior to these movements, most women were too uncomfortable or ashamed to discuss the topic of sexual abuse so openly, and many certainly felt that it was a risky idea for a pageant platform.
But, now, thankfully, the secrecy surrounding these issues has been lifted, and victims of assault are taking back their power and inviting other survivors to do the same. It’s a tremendous and freeing time to champion a cause related to female empowerment and any related topics.
In 2015, Kira Kazanstsev was the third consecutive Miss America winner from New York, and she made a powerful impact with her platform, “Love Shouldn’t Hurt” – Protecting Women Against Domestic Violence.
When Kira was a young college student, she experienced an abusive relationship with her then, boyfriend. Her personal experience and the deep pain that it caused, became the inspiration behind choosing her platform.
Kira worked alongside the organization, “Safe Horizon” and started her own movement, “Put the Nail In It” utilizing the hash tag, #putthenailinit.
She encouraged individuals to take a vow stating that they would do all they could to support survivors of abuse and stop domestic violence and as an additional sign of solidarity, paint their ring finger purple, which is the accepted color of “Domestic Violence Awareness”.
The reach of her campaign was monumental and everywhere you looked, you saw women AND men with a fingernail painted purple. It was a brilliant marketing and public relations move, and the visual impact across social media was incredibly memorable.
Another national titleholder that created a platform based on her own personal history, is Nia Sanchez.
Miss USA 2014 and 1st Runner up to Miss Universe, Nia Sanchez says that she is probably the only Miss USA in history to spend more time out of her heels than in them, because she was always kicking off her shoes to give demonstrations in self-defense.
Nia is quite a remarkable woman in many ways; she is incredibly stunning, intelligent and an eloquent speaker.
But, she is most impressive when she is breaking boards and “doing her thing”, notably being a fifth degree black belt in taekwondo, which she began practicing when she was just 8 years old.
Nia is the only Miss USA ever featured on the cover of the magazine, “Tae Kwon Do Times”, and was named a “Goodwill Ambassador” for the World Tae Kwon Do Federation.
Nia spoke throughout her reign about the positive impact that the sport has had on her life and she credits taekwondo with much of her success, gifting her with discipline and self-control. She stressed that the central taekwondo tenet of perseverance equipped her with the determination to overcome defeat throughout her life.
But taekwondo is not simply a mental and physical exercise regimen for Nia. It is also a martial art that teaches self-defense techniques, and that point was a major one for Nia, as she believes that women should have the skills to defend themselves.
She still teaches classes today through, “Self-Defense by Nia”, which supports empowering battered and/or abused women, and she also hosts additional workshops to help young girls dealing with low self-esteem.
Miss USA 2014 Nia Sanchez. Photo: World Tae Kwon Do Federation
Miss Universe 2017, Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters, created a personal platform that focused on self-defense, and she then made it her mission to empower women and keep them safe with her Unbreakable initiative, which she launched in 2017, while she was still Miss South Africa.
Her worldwide campaign was designed to empower women with the information they need to be mentally and physically prepared in the event of a violent attack.
Demi-Leight was inspired to launch Unbreakable after her own violent carjacking experience in June 2017. While stopped at a traffic light in her native South Africa, her car was surrounded by armed men. She gave up her belongings but was able to survive the attack unharmed by using techniques she'd learned at a self-defense course three months earlier.
As her story was covered by the local news, Nel-Peters received requests from other women to share the experience. She saw an opportunity to create an environment for women to share their stories and learn how to protect themselves.
She collaborated with experts including Mark Grobbelaar, founder of the Woman INpowered course she had taken, and began hosting Unbreakable workshops in her home country to provide women with valuable and sometimes life-saving information.
After winning Miss Universe, Nel-Peters used her title to expand the Unbreakable platform internationally. She went on to host workshops in other countries, including Indonesia, Mexico, and the United States.
Although she passed on the crown to a new Miss Universe, Demi-Leigh has no plans on giving up on her Unbreakable initiative. In fact, she wants to make it even bigger and turn Unbreakable into a foundation where she could work with safe havens to bring the empowerment workshops to the women they serve.
Knowing just how powerful this woman is, we have no doubt that she will do just that!
A couple of interesting organizations that support survivors of assault or domestic abuse are The Global Sisterhood and Milagros Day Worldwide.
The Global Sisterhood’s mission is all about “providing education, resources, and networking for women and girls internationally by forming connections and supporting each other’s missions and movements.”
Milagros Day Worldwide, is a non-profit organization that empowers survivors of Domestic Violence through leadership coaching and mentorship; and a commitment to turning abuse into success.
Miss Universe 2017 Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters. Photo: Miss Universe
Okay, okay, we know. You need not roll your eyes at this category, because yes, “World Peace” is a much joked about pageant platform cliché, however, it is a very real and valid cause, worthy of any pageant contestant’s efforts.
In fact, there are entire pageant systems established around the idea of ending the war on violence, such as, Miss Grand International. The Miss Grand International pageant has a beautiful mission that goes far beyond beauty.
The pageant has adopted a mission that they call the, “Stop the War and Violence Campaign”. They believe that the annual competition is not only a form of entertainment, but they endeavor to educate people around the world about the effects of war and violence, that many people may not be aware of.
Miss Grand International 2019 Valentina Figuera. Photo: Lasopa
The pageant accepts that a simple beauty pageant may not be able to remove hate and violence totally, but they are determined to decrease negativity by promoting peace, love and understanding.
Another organization called the, “There Is No Limit Foundation” seeks a world free of poverty, inequality, and violence, where independent, networked individuals leverage their knowledge, skills and connections to uplift and provide for themselves, their families and communities.
Their mission is to empower individuals and families in the poorest communities to reach their fullest potential and enhanced sense of dignity through economic opportunities and the eradication of barriers including poverty, inequality, and violence.
So, don’t be too quick to pass up world peace if you believe that your purpose is tied to this type of service work. Some people might think it’s a joke, but saving the world from hate and violence is no laughing matter.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving
One of the most well known non-profit organizations in the world is Mothers Against Drunk Driving, or MADD.
MADD was formed when 13-year-old Cari Lightner was walking along a quiet road on her way to a church carnival when a car swerved out of control, striking and killing her. Cari’s tragic death compelled her mother, Candy Lightner, to found the organization, which would grow into one of the country’s most influential non-profit organizations.
Candy Lightner learned from a policeman that drunk driving was rarely prosecuted harshly, and that the driver who hit Cari, (who had a record of arrests for intoxication, and had in fact been arrested on another hit-and-run drunk-driving charge less than a week earlier) was unlikely to spend significant time behind bars. Furious, Lightner decided to take action against what she later called “the only socially accepted form of homicide.” MADD was the result.
MADD had expanded to some 320 chapters and 600,000 volunteers and donors nationwide by 1985, and by 2000, the 20th anniversary of MADD’s founding–alcohol-related fatalities had dropped some 40 percent over two decades, and states with the toughest drunk-driving laws were beginning to treat alcohol-related fatalities as murder.
Then, there is the tragic story behind “Victoria’s Voice”, otherwise known as the “Victoria Siegel Foundation”. David and Jackie Siegel lost their daughter Victoria to a drug interaction overdose when she was only 18.
Their unimaginable loss inspired their complete devotion to shining a bright light on the dark issue of opioid abuse that has crippled our nation, and killed our children for some time. The overdose death rate from opioid (painkillers) drugs has increased a staggering 200 percent since 2000. Through the “Victoria Siegel Foundation” the family is bringing this matter to the national stage, championing specific ways that we can reduce drug experimentation, addiction and overdose deaths. Their singular mission is saving lives so we don’t lose our future generation.
The coolest part of the Siegel’s story is that the Mrs. America Organization was so moved by their efforts, that Victoria’s Voice has now become one of the official charities of both the Mrs. America pageant, as well as its sister pageant, Miss For America. Since the partnership began, countless contestants have chosen to champion the cause, which has resulted in unprecedented growth and support of the charity, as well as hope for families, that the loss of their loved one was not in vain.
It’s plain to see that one decision can have a tremendous impact on the world.
Sometimes beauty is born from ashes, and the most painful tragedies of our lives can become a catalyst for change that ultimately helps heal the pain of other people.
We've created a list of 107 Pageant Platform Ideas (with a few organizations to partner with) just for you! If you have a unique platform not included here, please email us at [email protected] so we can include it here!
Choosing the right pageant platform is integral to how you can market yourself and begin to make a true difference in your community throughout your time as a contender for the title that you are pursuing. As mentioned in the previous section, you may be spending years with your cause, therefore, you must choose to champion something that’s vital to who you are as a person. You want to be able to speak about your platform for days on end to as many people as possible and not risk exhaustion because you love your platform just that much. While this may seem difficult at first, once you sit down and take a deep dive into who you are as a person and what motivates you to move forward, you should be able to nail down a platform with ease.
Start in the family
In your immediate family, those who stay with you in your home, is someone facing an extremely tough medical situation? Do you find yourself helping them on a day to day, hour to hour basis in fighting their situation? Has someone in the family passed from a certain medical condition that has moved you profoundly? Are you facing any medical conditions that you like to bring awareness to? If your answer is yes to any of these questions, then you can begin to build a platform in which you want to let these conditions and ailments be known. Your platform could be centered around how a family members’ condition has forced you to become a stronger person for them. Or you could choose to bring about change in how certain medical conditions are treated.
Having family members who have faced these situations, or facing them yourself, gives you first hand knowledge of what it is like to have to live with these ailments or conditions. This creates the perfect opportunity for you because you know what struggles that you or your family member faced and you most likely have already thought about what would make the process easier. Creating a platform gives you a voice to advocate for the change you want to see for others who have faced the same ailments you have seen take hold of someone’s life. Being able to speak about someone that you love facing a medical dilemma can be the inspiration for many passionate speeches and essays about how those battling the same dilemma can get through it.
Look throughout your community
If you don’t feel comfortable speaking about medical conditions, take a look around your community and look for the main issues that you’d like to see a change in. Get to know the people who you see everyday around town and listen to what they may be struggling with. Staying homegrown and realizing the problems that face your community is a great way to be an advocate to advance your cause and give your hometown someone to believe in. Having a platform through pageantry is much like being a politician already, but when you choose to advocate for your community, your voice is amplified just as much.
Choosing to look for issues in your community and talking to those affected by the issue you choose (homelessness, poverty, gun violence, or any other major issue) can help you to figure out ways to best serve those in your community. For example, if you have noticed a large population of homeless veterans in your community, you can use your platform to bring awareness to their struggles as well as creating events and fundraisers that would help the veterans find permanent solutions to their issues. You’ve certainly noticed issues in your town and wondered, “Who is going to get rid of this? Who is going to solve this?” Now, the opportunity is in your hands to make that change!
Choosing the right platform is about doing soul searching to figure out what you want to put your time and effort into. Just by taking a quick glance through your life and your own personal struggles, familial struggles, or the struggles of your neighborhood, you can find so much inspiration for creating the perfect pageant platform. The most important aspect of the platform is to be able to go out into the world and inspire with actions as well as words. Being able to translate your platform into an activity that you can inspire others to do helps to really get your message across and show that you are willing to work toward a positive outcome for your platform.
Platforms “leveled up”
If you are new to pageantry and just getting your stilettos wet, then this suggestion is not as big of a deal because you are more in an exploration mode. Your focus should be learning the ropes of pageantry, finding a platform that you can really get excited about and finding a way to volunteer in your community or express that platform in some way.
But, if you have been competing for a bit, you’ve got a solid platform that you’re committed to, and you now have the desire to win at a higher level, then you need to pay attention. If you are competing in a pageant system that has a progressive competition structure where the winner goes on to compete at a state competition, then the national pageant and finally at the international level, then you want to keep in mind that your platform has to be something that can be “leveled up.” This also applies if you are in a position where you are going to be competing as an “at large” contestant representing your state, and you will be going directly to a national pageant competition.
What we mean by leveled up or up leveled, is that your platform can be easily implemented on a larger scale. If your platform is affiliated with a nationwide organization or has an international presence, then it is one that you can grow with and market easily.
The reason that this is so crucial for the contestant who wants to compete at a higher level, is that any pageant organization that has a national or international competition, will want to promote the platforms of their winners. And, if your platform is not the kind of cause that they can get involved with and expand on at a national or international level, then they likely will not choose you as their queen.
A platform does not have to be widely known or super popular to have that kind of presence; it just has to have enough people involved and have a global network in place. If your platform is a local, grass roots charity that will only really interest the occupants of your town or community, then it is not the type of platform that can be leveled up.
The International Pageants system promotes community service with half of each contestant's competition score based on knowledge of and work with her platform. When they are assessing the contestants during their national competition, one of the things that they are looking at is whether or not each woman’s platform is one that they can engage with and support on an international level.
The women who win the national titles always have the kind of platforms that have the ability to go global. It doesn’t mean that the contestant has already taken her platform to a global level; it simply means that she can take it there with the assistance of the pageant system.
Platforms “drilled down”
Now that we have explored the concept of leveling up your platform, it’s time to talk about how to drill it down. What we mean when we talk about drilling down your platform is that you may have a great platform concept, but you are feeling like it’s not quite right. You’re on the right track, but you need to customize your concept.
The way that you do that is to think about why you are choosing this platform and then pay attention to the small, personal details that fill you with deep emotion. Then you tweak your platform concept in such a way that it is more unique and personal to you.
This is also called, “finding your niche”.
Sometimes we know the general direction that we want to go in with our platform, but it just feels “too big,” or ‘”not specific enough.” It doesn’t click. When that happens it usually means that you just need to narrow it down to a more personal and custom fit.
It’s kind of like finding your perfect evening gown, but it’s too big or ill fitting. You know for a fact that this gown is the one that you want, and you know it was meant for you. However, it needs to be customized so that it looks like it was made for you as well. Make sense?
An example might be that you know that you want your platform to be centered on literacy. The reason that you think this is because you had dyslexia when you were a child, and you could not read well until your problem was diagnosed. You feel that this would be a good platform because you don’t want other kids to experience what you did.
But, maybe there is an added motivation. Perhaps your Mom and Dad read to you because you could not read for yourself, and that one thing that they did made you feel so loved and accepted, despite the reality that you had a learning deficiency. As a result, you felt like the whole world was opened for you.
So, in this case, there are a couple of ways that you could drill this platform down to a more personal level.
You could focus solely on dyslexia awareness and education, while still promoting literacy in general.
Or, you could clue into that intimate detail, which is the real thing that motivates you. You want children to feel loved and accepted and you learned that through being read to.
You could go a whole other way and promote reading with children as your platform. This type of a platform would be extremely personal and motivating for you. It would still promote literacy but it opens up the platform to include all children, yet at the same time, it keeps it very close to your heart because you have a connection with it on a deep level.
You could still talk about dyslexia if you wanted to, and this type of a platform would give you so many volunteering and community service options.
You could read to children at schools, libraries, hospitals and public events. You could start a campaign to create a neighborhood book borrowing service throughout your town. You could encourage and promote a movement that parents, childcare workers and guardians read to children every day. You could even come up with your own service project and write your own story book about being read to as a child.
Do you see how finding your niche makes your platform come alive? When you can key in to those personal details that motivate you, it then becomes so much more than a pageant platform. It becomes a purpose. And, that is what really makes a difference… in your life and in the lives of others.
Creating the perfect pageant platform consists of three different types of thinking: how strongly do you feel about your cause, what actions can you take to make your community aware of this cause, and what about it makes you a memorable contestant. When you take these ways of thinking into consideration, it becomes easier to create a platform that speaks to you!
Creating a platform with an emotional tie to you
As mentioned in the previous section, having a platform that means the world to you is absolutely key. When others can see the passion and care that you bring to the issue, judges included, it shows that you truly want to make a difference. As mentioned in the previous section, choosing a cause that has an emotional tie to you and your past or your future is the absolute best way to bring out this passion in you.
Choosing a platform that means something to you, a family member, or someone in your community, is the best place to start, as you are more likely to have a strong connection with it. For example, if you have a family member that has suffered with autism, you may want to create a platform about autism awareness in their honor. Therefore, you are more likely to work hard in your cause, not only because you do not want to let your family member down, but also because you have seen them struggle throughout their life.
What will you do with your platform?
Now that you’ve figured out what your platform is, and why you’ve created it, you must figure out how you will enact it. Creating a platform with actual activities that you would like to accomplish can be the most difficult part of planning. You can spread awareness of your cause through social media, but taking your cause to the streets not only gets the general public more engaged, but it can also give you more inspiration to keep going. If your cause is to raise funds for a certain charity, you could definitely create fundraisers and spread awareness through these ideas listed here (Insert link to this article: https://www.pageantplanet.com/article/5-pageant-platform-money-raising-ideas-that-are-guaranteed-to-work).
There are so many ways to have your platform become more widespread and create the most amount of influence. You could host classes about the topics that your platform covers, you could create a specific event for your platform as well. If you bring out your inner creativity and try to market your platform in a way you have never seen others do it before, then you are well on your way to a great platform.
Make it memorable
Memorability is the goal when it comes time to actually competing for your pageant. With the previous sections in mind, you want to make sure that above all, your platform stands out amongst the other contestants. You can achieve this in multiple different ways that involve the previous sections. Having a relatable and personal platform helps for the judges to remember you as well as making sure that you are actually accomplishing a goal in real life with your platform. Once it comes time for your pageant, you’ll be able to speak about your platform and incorporate yourself into the conversation with ease!
Keep in mind, the possibility of girls having the same platform as you is very high, there are only so many causes one can champion. It is not about the actual cause though, it is about what you have specifically done to mitigate this cause and bring awareness to it. This is where your personality and hard work comes in.
Between two girls with the same cause, a judge is more likely to choose someone with a personal connection to it and who’s actually spreading awareness over someone who championed the cause because their coach told them to. As long as you keep in mind that your hard work is what will set you apart in all aspects of competition, you are good to go!
A pageant platform essay is a paper in which you speak about exactly what you’ve been working on with your platform and what you have chosen to champion throughout your time as a competitor. The pageant platform essay is apart of the competition in which a contestant can validate, in writing, why she chose the specific cause she has. The essay is your moment to talk about every single intricacy that is apart of your platform.
If during the competition you never have a chance to speak about your platform, the essay needs to cover every single thing about your platform so that the judges have a semblance of what you have stood for thus far in your pageant journey. The pageant platform essay should encase topics like, how you created your platform, what caused you to choose this specific platform, how you have advocated for it, and how you will continue to advocate for it.
Although the pageant essay is not imperative for some systems, like Miss Earth USA or Miss USA, it is imperative for systems such as Miss America and Miss Teen, creating an essay is a great exercise for all contestants to ensure that they know the direction that they want to go in for their platform. Writing what you have done, what you will do, and what has made you continue to keep going is a great way to remain humble and realize why you began in the first place.
If you find that writing worries you, as long as you write from the heart and mean every word you say, you will find yourself writing too long of an essay. If writing an essay is required, it will also force you to think about the specific ways that you plan to bring your cause to a resolution. Having this in mind will help you to answer your interview questions easier as well as give you the proper mindset of why you embarked upon your platform.
Writing a pageant platform may seem like a tremendous amount of work, but the next section covers exactly how you want to write your platform essay and what you can include to differentiate your essay from the next!
Writing your pageant platform essay may seem daunting at first, but always keep in mind the fundamentals of writing an essay: the introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion. When you break down your essay like this, it makes writing your essay a bit easier. In the sections below, we will take the time to illustrate these sections of your essay as well as what tone your writing should take on when you talk about your platform.
The introduction to your essay should begin with an explanation of who you are and what your platform is. In your introduction, there is no need to delve into the why or the how of your platform just yet. If you decide to delve straight in with your story in the introductory paragraph, you risk overwhelming your judges.
In your introduction, you want to entice your judges by reading more. The last sentence of your introduction should read like a thesis statement for a paper. It’s when you finally tell the judges what your platform is.
Your body paragraphs are where you really delve into who you are as a person and why you chose your platform. In this section of your essay, you should have at least three paragraphs, the first illustrating the backstory behind why you chose your platform. This is your moment to speak on your ‘why’.
The second paragraph of your essay should be the ‘how’. In this paragraph, you should talk about how you have pursued your platform and how you have begun to tackle the issue your championing. This is your time to speak about all of the fundraisers, events, and charity work you have done to further your platform.
The third paragraph is your moment to speak about how your platform can affect those in your community and those for whom you created your platform to help. You should also speak about what you will be doing with your platform in the future and how you hope your platform will impact those in the next generations. Covering your bases like this will not only help you to seal the deal with your judges, but it will help to make an impact with others should you decide to post your speech online.
Like every essay, your conclusion should touch upon everything you mentioned throughout your essay. This is not the time to enter in last minute additional information, as the judges will have already formed an opinion of your essay by now. When writing your conclusion, you want to make sure that you use a proper tone that makes it sound like you are concluding your essay.
It is important to have a splash of personality and professionalism throughout the tone of your essay, as you want the judges to take you seriously, but you do not want your words to bore them as well.
Using proper punctuation when needed, ensuring that you are not using run-on sentences, and proper word usage can all help with your tone. The best essays are written when it feels like the contestant is actually speaking to the judge in a polite manner with her personality all on the table; just like in an interview. Once you have the proper tone and diction down, your essay will write itself!
In conclusion, writing a pageant platform essay is just like writing an essay for class. You are just telling a completely different story. As long as you stay true to who you are as a person and have your platform take center stage, you will write an amazing essay!
When pageant girls hear that they should be promoting their platform in some way, often times they get very anxious about the idea because they think that it means that they have to do something that is uncomfortable for them, or out of their area of experience or expertise.
When we talk about promoting your platform, we’re not talking about renting a vehicle with a speaker on the top, and driving throughout your neighborhood yelling at people to give canned goods to their local food bank.
We’re also not talking about going door-to-door, hanging outside of supermarkets or patrolling the mall, with a clipboard in your hand and handing out flyers to total strangers.
Those kinds of activities are definitely a type of promotion, but they are not all that effective and they can be downright annoying or perhaps illegal if you’re disturbing the peace or breaking a law.
Instead of thinking about “promoting” your platform, think more about “communicating” about it, because that is, in essence, what you are really doing.
You are communicating with intent to inform, educate and engage. Think about all of the possible ways to communicate with people, and all the different ways that we do that.
Every person has their own personality, style and temperament when it comes to communication, and there are multiple ways that you can communicate about your platform that will be comfortable for you.
Some people have the gift of gab, naturally, and those folks make it look easy. They approach the world as if there are no strangers, only friends they haven’t met yet!
But, if you are not a very extroverted person, or you get tongue tied or nervous when you’re speaking to people, especially to a crowd or people you don’t know, then you can find other ways to promote and communicate your platform, until you get more comfortable.
We do recommend that you work on those skills, though, especially learning to talk to strangers or to a group of people.
If you do have your sights set on being a titleholder at some point being a skilled communicator is a skill set that you will have to develop. But, it’s nothing to get worked up about.
Public speaking is a skill that you can absolutely learn! And it’s a skill that you can become very accomplished at, even if it is a bit out of your comfort zone initially.
But, for now, let’s concentrate on the myriad of ways that contestants promote their platform.
It’s time for another brainstorming session, so get out your pen and paper and let’s get down to business!
Let’s start out by talking about, “The foundation of networking”.
You can expand your reach by partnering with other people and organizations in order to promote your platform.
Ask yourself: “Who do I know? What do they do?.....and then…….
“Who do they know? And, what do they do?”
And, then begin writing down every single person that you know that you think you could network with in some way.
Start with your inner circle of friends and family and then work your way out to your neighbors, the people you work with or attend school with, and then the people that you know from all the different social circles you belong to.
We know that this is a very extensive project, but these people are your current network, and every single one of them can help you in some way.
They might be able to connect you with someone who has an appearance opportunity for you or an event where you could volunteer and promote your platform, as well as your pageant system.
As you begin to think about all the people that you know, then begin to systematically reach out to them by phone, email or text.
Create a concise announcement about your platform, your goals and what you would like to do with your platform in the future.
Then ASK for help! You would be surprised at how willing most people are to help you achieve your goals.
Passion is contagious, and when you are passionate about a cause or charity, you can get other people fired up too. If the person that you contacted cannot help you, they just might know someone who can.
By thinking along these lines, you will hopefully open yourself up to all of the possibilities that are within your reach.
Promoting your platform is not something that you must do alone. In fact, the best thing that you can do for yourself is to think of the big picture, and that includes your contacts and social network.
There are direct and indirect ways to communicate and promote your platform.
You can start a Facebook Fan page, an Instagram account that is dedicated to your platform, or a blog or website.
You can also start a youtube channel if your platform is something that would fit this genre.
Depending on what your platform is and what your goals are with regard to it, you can communicate about it in other ways too.
You can have t-shirts made, along with stickers, custom made pens, buttons, bumper stickers and wrist bands.
These types of ideas requires a financial investment, but they can be relatively inexpensive to make or purchase online at sites like Amazon.com
Contact any person that you think might be interested in talking about your platform, either formally or informally.
For example, why not contact your local Mayor, city official or any other important public figure. This can be very useful if your platform is related to anything in their realm of interests.
Send a press release to your local newspapers, news stations, online news sites or any organization that is in any way related to your platform and tell them about your projects and plans and any upcoming appearances. This is especially effective if you have just won a new title.
Who knows, they may not be interested in talking to you. But, you never know. You may just land an awesome interview!
Start making appearances! Seek out parades, a charity event, a race, a rodeo, a community festival or even a pageant. Anything can be an appearance! Just get yourself out there!
It is also very important to promote your pageant system, not just your platform by making appearances.
Appearances and volunteering are not the same things. Appearances are where you simply “show up” in your crown and sash and shake hands and take photos. It is primarily a social opportunity.
Volunteering means that you are there to help in some way and get your hands dirty.
You can give of yourself to others by volunteering at a local fundraiser or charity that is related to your platform and you can even help your personal or pageant sponsors out by assisting at an event of theirs.
Research all the local city and county websites to look for upcoming events, then call or email whoever is in charge and ask if you can help out or participate in any way.
Reaching out goes a long way. Because once you volunteer for an event or make a connection by helping someone, they will think of you the next time that they have an opportunity.
Also, by notifying all of the people on your networking brainstorming form that you are available for appearances and to volunteer, you just might get recruited to do things by people that you don’t even know!
Are you ready to truly make a difference in the world with your pageant platform? Check out this podcast with Steven Roddy and Jesse Ladoue: "How to Change the World Through Your Platform".
A lot of contestants think they’ve got a great platform, and they have tons of ideas about volunteering or serving in some way in support of that platform. But, nobody ever told them that they need to have a solid marketing plan as a part of that platform.
Your platform is not an entity unto itself. It does not exist just to give you something to do with your free time on the weekends.
Your platform is the vehicle for your strategic marketing plan as a contestant. It serves as a way to communicate who you are, what you care about, what your values are and it is a part of your overall brand. All of these aspects of your platform should mesh well together, and make it easier for the pageant judges to understand what you’re all about.
And, on top of all of those points, there are most likely going to be times when you want or need to raise money for your platform.
Sometimes, you may want to raise money for your platform because you care deeply about what you are doing, and your platform requires financial assistance from donors to survive. If your platform is a charity or non-profit, this is certainly going to be the case.
Other times the pageant that you are competing in asks you to raise a certain amount of money on behalf of the pageant’s charity. They often do this to because the charity and the pageant have a business partnership, and the charity promotes and supports the pageant, among other things in exchange for donations and advertising.
The pageant’s director also knows that your participation with its designated charity will show judges and potential sponsors that you are personally invested, and frankly, part of being a titleholder is often raising not only awareness for causes, but funds as well. Check out this podcast, "How to Raise Money for Your Pageant Platform," for an overview of how to start your fundraising efforts:
A titleholder is a leader and a motivator. Part of your job if you win the pageant, is being responsible for attracting new contestants, potential sponsors and business partners. When you can show the judges that you’ve been able to do this on your own with the pageant’s charity or your own platform, it demonstrates that you have the skill set and the capabilities to do that as a queen.
You won’t be able to raise money unless you are “all in” on your platform. You must be absolutely excited, passionate and sold out regarding your platform and your purpose as you understand it, otherwise raising money will feel like a grind. You also run the risk of feeling resentful and insincere, and that is one of the worst combinations of emotions that any pageant girl can have.
We’ve all been there. That is why we want to make sure that the platform you select fits you like a glass slipper!
How to create a customized money-making plan for your platform
There are countless ways to raise money for your platform, cause or pageant, but we want to give you an idea that is unique to you as a titleholder or pageant contestant.
This is a very useful exercise that won’t take long at all, and it will generate a plan of action that is tailored specifically to you and your brand.
It’s time to brainstorm!
Get out some paper and a pen and find a nice, quiet place where you can reflect without interruption.
What are your talents, interests, gifts and abilities? What are you good at? What do you lose yourself in?
Think in terms of different areas or genres. Think about artistic interests, academic interests, physical abilities or sports related interests.
What have you done for fun in your free time? What kind of work have you done, or what tasks do you most enjoy at your job? What classes have you really enjoyed when you were in school? What would you do with a free afternoon or if you had a weekend all to yourself? (Sleeping does not count!)
Are you good at public speaking, photography, baking, playing chess, doing research, dancing, teaching children, applying makeup, speaking another language, reading out loud, cleaning and organizing?
If you’re having a hard time getting started then go talk to your parents, friends, relatives, teachers and anyone who knows you well and that you trust.
Just ask them what they think that you are really gifted at. Usually your parents or your best friends are the people who will come up with a long list of qualities or activities where they see you excelling all the time. They may even see things that you didn’t think of.
When you have finished creating your comprehensive list of talents, interests and abilities, then stop and take a look at it.
Select the top 10 things that you enjoy doing the most that you are also good at, and that do not require a huge investment of time or money on your part.
Choosing something that you are also accomplished at is key. Typically the things that we most enjoy are the things that we are also good at doing, but sometimes we find something we love like experimenting with recipes, but we’re not all that great at it. We want to nail down the things where you excel, that you also happen to like doing.
Then go through your top 10 activities and ask yourself if someone would pay you to do some of those things for them.
Can you find 5-6 items on that list that you can honestly say, someone would be willing to pay you to do for them? I bet you can!
You may never have thought of this before, with regard to yourself, but most anything that someone can do well is something that they can make money at. We’re not talking about starting a new career here. We’re just trying to come up with ideas to raise money for your pageant.
Let’s say that on your list, the top things that you are good at and enjoy most are the fact that you love journalism, photography and video recording, doing hair and makeup, playing volleyball and you love talking to people, especially new people and strangers.
So, first off, playing volleyball may or may not be a good money making idea, although, depending on your skill level, your experience and your desire, you may just make a pretty good volleyball coach.
We won’t rule it out, but let’s see if we can find some better ideas from your list, ok?
Let’s explore your love of journalism, photography and making videos and see if we can find something related to those concepts to make money at.
You may not be a professional when it comes to taking photos or creating videos, so taking pageant head shots is probably not a possibility at this time.
But, if you are pretty skilled, you could probably make some money taking photos of families, children or even pets.
Another great idea would be to offer to take videos of pageant girls doing mock interviews, especially since you are so comfortable talking to people and you have a natural affinity for journalism.
Every contestant out there needs to be doing mock interviews, yet so many girls don’t do it because either they don’t know what to do, they don’t have anyone to ask them questions or they don’t feel comfortable filming themselves.
It would not take much to set up the interview space, ask a whole bunch of random interview questions and film it all for each contestant. You could help so many people and make money at the same time. What a valuable thing that would be!
You could also offer to make videos of pageant contestants practicing their walking and posing techniques. That would be such a helpful service to offer too! All you would need is a large, open space that was relatively private where a girl could walk comfortably and safely.
In addition to those ideas, there are lots of other possibilities related to you skills at doing hair and makeup.
If you are really good, you could sell your services doing hair and makeup for proms and dances, or you could even teach young pre-teens how to do their own hair and makeup for a fee.
Parents would be thrilled to have someone teach their young daughters how to do appropriate hair and makeup, and they’d be happy to pay someone for that service.
You could even take it a step further and combine photography and doing hair and makeup!
For our second example, we’ll imagine that the things at the top of your list are cleaning and organizing, sewing your own clothing, you adore animals, you’re fluent in not only speaking, but writing in Spanish, and baking cookies, cakes and other goodies.
Right off the bat, you’ve got a tremendous amount of talent here that could be used to raise money for your platform.
How many people out there would love to hire you to help them clean and organize their home or office?
And, then the fact that you can sew, is a huge money maker! You can go so many places with that skill because most people don’t even know how to thread a needle these days! There are people out there who are petite and always have to have their pants, dresses and skirts hemmed and they would love to pay you to do it for them.
Your love of animals is also highly marketable, whether you realize it or not.
Yes, you could always make money by walking the dogs in your neighborhood, but let’s think outside-the-box and try combining some of your talents and see what comes up.
What if you combine your love of animals with your love of sewing and designing and create your own line of cute outfits or costumes for pets? Are you kidding! Any proud pet owner would be over the moon to be able to purchase a custom made outfit for their furry friend.
Or, if you are more interested in expressing your inner Julia Child, you could combine your love of animals with your baking hobby. Why not create your own brand of healthy dog or cat treats in your kitchen? Can’t you just imagine how much money you could make from canine culinary delights?
We haven’t even discussed your communication skills yet and you’ve already got a bunch of great ideas.
There are so many ways that you can earn money if you are fluent in a language. You could of course tutor someone, like a student in Spanish. Or, you could put an ad in a local college newspaper that you are available to practice conversational Spanish with others. You could even make money reading to sick or elderly people who only understand Spanish.
Do you now see how this works? When you dig down deep and think about all the different skills, abilities and talents that you have, you are a treasure trove of money making ideas just waiting to happen!
Public and private events and ideas that can help you raise money for your platform
Now that you have created your own customized money-making plan for your platform, it’s time to build onto that foundation and come up with additional ways to make money.
You’ve probably already witnessed pageant girls using sources like, “Go Fund Me” or posting messages on their Facebook pages or Instagram accounts asking for people to donate money to them personally, or for their pageant platform, and although there is nothing inherently wrong with just asking for money, there are so many other creative ways to do it.
Here are some public and private ideas that you can use to generate funds that can be very enjoyable not only for you, but for others to participate in.
Anything that is open to the general public can be considered a public event. It does not have to be a huge undertaking, like sponsoring a 5 course fancy dinner in a ballroom somewhere. It can be a very simple event, without a lot of fuss, as long as people are interested in attending.
Community activity night: bowling, ice skating, roller skating, paint ball
Community Bingo or other game that lots of people can play
Some kind of athletic event or tournament: An obstacle course, weight lifting, softball
A public eating contest of any kind: pie eating, hot dog eating, pizza eating and so on.
A public competition where people MAKE something: cookies, cakes, pies, chili
A public competition where people DO something: play music, break dance, carve pumpkins, decorate gingerbread houses, tell jokes
Zumba, Self-Defense, Kick Boxing or other fitness or dance class
Online Auctions where people donate items and you sell them to the highest bidder
Public Auctions where people donate items and you sell them to the highest bidder
Fun Runs or Walks, including “color” runs, or some other kind of theme
Dance-a-thons (or any other kind of “thon”)
Social Media Challenge or Contest: This could be done privately within your circle of friends and family as well.
Board Game Night
Supper Club – Where everyone pays a small fee and brings a dish and their recipe and you share a meal together
Individual Donation Opportunities
Pageant Planet - that's right. You can raise money for your platform right through your Pageant Planet profile! Just start a fundraiser and share your page!
Amazon Smile – you can raise money for almost any charity there.
Facebook has set up a system where you can create a personal post on your Facebook account and you can check a box that will allow people to donate to a cause.
You can create a “Go Fund Me” Page
Contestant Generated Donations
Selling something that you make like cookies, cakes, candy or specialty items like Christmas ornaments or other holiday decorations.
Making money because of something that you do for others as a service like dog walking, giving haircuts, cleaning and organizing homes or offices.
Selling products that you make or distribute
In general, when you are trying to think of what you can do to make money for your platform, try to stay as true to yourself as possible.
You do not have to over extend yourself and put on some grand gesture or produce a major event in order to make money, if that is not your thing.
Try to get involved with things that relate to your brand and who you are and what you most enjoy doing.
The reality is that trying to find a way to tell your personal story as it relates to your platform is the most powerful way that you can motivate people to not only support your cause, but also donate their money to it.
When you can share with people in a deeply personal and truthful way, why you have the platform you have and why you are choosing to do what you are doing, that is when you will be able to connect with them and motivate them to give.
I am currently involved with more than eight charitable organizations. Each and every one of them hoLearn More