Photo: Miss America Organization
Almost every pageant organization claims it is accepting of all shapes and sizes, but when you look at current and past titleholders, you see a very different reality. Each pageant system is unique and each one seeks something different from its contestants. No matter what your size, there is a pageant out there that is perfect for you. The important thing is to do your research and discover which one will be the right fit for you. (Read: What to Look For in a Beauty Pageant)
A woman with a thin physique would thrive at pageants like Miss USA, Miss Teen USA or Miss United States. These pageants look for tall girls with modelesque figures. Miss Teen USA contestants must be at least 14 and under the age of 19 whenever at the time of competition. Miss USA contestants must be at least 18 and under the age of 28. Miss United States contestants must be between the ages of 20 and 29. Miss USA is always very slim and toned. Despite a change in ownership in recent years, this is one fact that has yet to change.
Though slimmer figures are the norm in the Miss USA pageant, here and there we see contestants breaking the mold. DeAnna Johnson, Miss Georgia USA 2017, gained a lot of media attention due to her fuller hourglass figure. She was predicted by many pageant experts to be a semifinalist, but she fell short of making the top 10 at the televised event. Though I'm sure the judges acknowledged Johnson as beautiful, they chose 10 semifinalists that fit the traditional mold of a Miss USA. Many people criticize the Miss Universe Organization for choosing titleholders that resemble (or sometimes actually are) models.
These people often fail to realize that the Miss Universe Organization is a company like any other company. The judges know the brand and they know what has worked in the past. There is a place for tall women who resemble models in the pageant world, and for the girls who don't fit the USA mold, there is a system for them as well. (Read: The Best Swimsuit Styles for Your Body Type)
Kára McCullough, Miss USA 2017. Photo: Benjamin Askinas/WME IMG via Getty Images
Miss World, Miss Earth, Miss America, and Miss America's Outstanding Teen are great organizations for girls sizes 00 to 6 to consider. Miss America and Miss Earth has a swimsuit portion of the competition and Miss America's Outstanding Teen and Miss World has a fitness portion, but they are not necessarily looking for model body types. They are looking for healthy girls who can be advocates for healthy lifestyles while still being relatable to the average girl. Miss America contestants must be between the ages of 17 and 24. Miss America's Outstanding Teen contestants must be 13 to 17.
Mallory Hytes Hagan, Miss America 2013, was made fun of by several people because of her weight. Hagan had worked extremely hard to be in shape and to be a great representative, yet she still faced bullying. These viewers failed to realize that like the Miss Universe Organization, the Miss America Organization has a brand as well. It looks for all-American girls who will be relatable to the average person. Hagan, despite this criticism, is a very well like and memorable Miss America. She fit the mold of a Miss America by being the healthiest version of herself and by being a role model to people across the country. Have you seen Hagan in the news lately? She is taking a stand for the Miss America Organization in light of the email scandal she is involved in. (Read: Miss America 2013 Calls for Organization Reinvention)
Cara Mund, Miss America 2018. Photo: AP Photo/Noah K. Murray
National American Miss, American Pageants, and other systems like them are great pageant for girls of any size. National American Miss does not include a swimsuit portion. The swimsuit competition is a common reason plus sizes girls decide not to compete. They often feel their body is not the pageant norm and discourage themselves from giving it a try. National American Miss is accepting of all sizes and sees beauty as a poised young lady. National American Miss has a wide variety of age divisions from National American Princess to National American Miss. (Read: Top 10 Tips to Succeed at National American Miss). American Pageants, formerly known as Miss Teen of America, doesn't have a fitness or swimsuit portion therefore girls of all sizes win this system. There are also several age divisions, ranging from age 7 to age 24.
American Pageants 2018 titleholders. Photo: American Pageants
Plus-sized girls are the least represented in pageantry. Girls in this size range should consider National American Miss and American Pageants. These pageants are accepting of all sizes and do not include swimsuit competitions, a common reason plus-sized ladies may choose not to compete. If you have ever been discouraged from competing due to not having a stereotypical pageant body, I urge you to reconsider. Pageantry needs representatives of all shapes, sizes, backgrounds and ethnicities. By having the confidence to compete, you will inspire other girls who perhaps have the same hesitations as you. By having the confidence to compete, you will inspire other girls who perhaps have the same hesitations as you.
National American Miss Tennessee Teen court. Photo: Brandi Davis
When it comes to pageantry, size really isn't an issue. There is a place for everyone! Do your research and find the system that you feel is right for you. Just because you didn't succeed in one system, doesn't mean you won't succeed in another. Maybe it just wasn't the right one for you. One thing that pageantry will teach you is who you are and what you stand for. I hope you find the best place for you and never get discouraged.
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