Miss Colorado USA 2018, Chloe Brown, and Miss Colorado Teen USA 2018, Chloe Zambrano. Photo: Future Productions, LLC
Many of us have had the experience of watching Miss America or Miss USA on television and thought about how much fun it would be to do a pageant. All the girls look so pretty and confident and they get to wear such gorgeous clothes. We fall in love with the fabulous fashion from the adorable opening number outfits to the unbelievably beautiful evening gowns. We feel drawn to certain contestants and we become invested in them so much that we want them to win.
And, when it’s all over, we feel a sense of awe and elation as we watch the new queen take her first walk with the crown precariously balanced on her head and her tear-streaked face smiling at the crowd, so full of joy and gratitude. It’s all so thrilling and magical that we wonder what it might be like to do a pageant ourselves. We want to share in that kind of excitement. We want to feel that Cinderella specialness and wear a glamorous dress.
And, most of all, we want to know what it must be like to have that sparkly crown placed on our head at the end of the night. Every pageant professional was new at one time, and every girl with a dream has to start somewhere. Well, Pageant Planet is here to help you reach your dream, too. (Read: 6 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your First Pageant)
Do your research
The idea of entering a pageant when you have no experience is scary, exciting, confusing and overwhelming because you are so aware of just how much you do not know. The first thing that you should do, if at all possible, is to attend the pageant that you plan to enter. If you don’t have time to do that, the next best thing is to read and study the pageant’s website and talk to the director and ask a lot of questions. The director is there to help you, and they understand that new contestants need a lot of help, so don't be afraid to ask for what you need. (Read: How to Prepare for Your First Pageant)
Another thing that will help you is to attend any and all pageants that you can. If there aren’t a lot of local pageants in your area, then watch Youtube videos of pageants. They can be incredibly helpful for you to get a better idea of what to expect. Your pageant may even have its own private Facebook page, in which case, take advantage of that forum to make friends and ask questions. Many pageants also offer workshops prior to the pageant, so try to attend as many of those as possible. There are bound to be some seasoned contestants who would be happy to help you, so just reach out to them. Most people who love pageantry are very willing to give back to the newbies because we ourselves were new at one time, and we want to pay it forward. (Read: What is the Average Amount of Times a Girl Competes in a Pageant Before She Wins?)
Most girls that you meet in pageants are friendly and happy to meet you, but there may be some contestants that are stand-offish or that may even ignore you. If you run into that kind of behavior, do not take it personally. There will always be people in pageants that are negative or unpleasant to be around. Do not allow those kinds of people to affect your experience or drain your energy. If you can, find another new contestant or two to buddy up with and learn together. Having a friend in the pageant that is learning just like you can be a great support.
Practice, practice, practice!
Even the most seasoned pageant professional undergoes a process of preparation that takes months, even years, depending on the level of competition that they are entering. There is no substitute for time and practice and there is no quick solution. You just have to jump in there and do the work. But, the good news is that you can do a lot of learning on your own, and I encourage you to study as much as you can by yourself. There are many excellent books about pageantry on the market, so ask your director or other more knowledgeable contestants which ones they recommend. Become familiar with all of the well-known professional pageant coaches and read everything that they make available.
Every pageant coach has a website, and they often offer free coaching articles on all kinds of subjects. Many even sell resources through their websites on improving interview skills, platform development, and just about any pageant topic that you can imagine. You do not need to spend the money to hire a coach for your first pageant. There are so many useful resources available to you for free. Of course, Pageant Planet is a treasure trove of information just waiting for you to discover!
Emma Marie Cook, Miss South Carolina Preteen United States 2017 interview outfit at the 2017 Miss Preteen United States Pageant. Photo: Goodwin Photography
Interview is typically the portion of the pageant that makes up the majority of your score, so learning all that you can about the interview process is crucial. You’ll need to learn how to write a solid pageant biography and include the right kind of information about yourself for the judges to draw their questions from. (Read: How to Succeed in Pageant Interview)
You will also need to practice how to answer questions in a genuine and relaxed way and be able to discuss a variety of subject matters. A pageant interview can be a very anxiety-producing experience, so you have to learn the skills to manage your nervousness or shyness. It is not easy to try to tell a total stranger all about yourself in a short amount of time, so you really do have to commit yourself to practicing this phase of the competition. Fortunately, because the interview is such a major part of pageantry in general, there is a lot of material out there that can help you. Again, Youtube is an excellent place to find videos on all aspects of pageantry. Some of the best videos about walking and stage presence can be found there. But, just watching them is not going to make you a better competitor. You really do have to practice. And, when I say practice, I don’t mean a few hours a week. I mean that you need to dedicate a few hours each day if at all possible. When you are new, you need to learn everything! And, it is going to take time for you to become proficient in all the different areas of competition. (Read: What is the Best Body Language Strategy for Pageant Onstage Question?)
Finding your own “win”
Believe it or not, pageantry is not ultimately about winning the crown. I know it’s shocking to hear that, but it’s true. Yes, we all want to win the crown, and we all dream that it will happen for us. But, no matter how many people compete in a pageant, only one goes home with the crown. And, it is extremely rare for someone to win their first pageant, because the skills required to actually win take a lot of time to develop and cannot be faked. (Read: 10 Things You Must do to Win Your Next Pageant)
However, that does not mean that you should not give it all you’ve got and compete! What I mean by competing is that you have to find your own “win.” Finding your own “win” means that you set goals for yourself that you want to accomplish during your pageant experience that is entirely dependent on you to achieve and nobody else. That means that the goals cannot be something that someone else gives to you or awards you. They have to be very specific objectives that you want to obtain during or by the end of the pageant that you are in control of. (Read: 8 Steps to Setting Achievable Pageant Goals)
For instance, if you want to lose weight or achieve a specific level of fitness for the pageant, that goal would be your “win.” Or, another goal might be that you want to overcome your fear of public speaking or your insecurity about wearing a bathing suit in front of an audience. Perhaps your goal is to simply sign up for a pageant and actually follow through with it. All of those things are terrific goals that you can achieve by yourself and for yourself and they make up your own personal “win!” (Read: 7 Activities That Help You Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking)
The main thing that you need to understand about pageantry is that it is a process of learning and becoming the person that you have always wanted to be. The process of pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone and self-imposed limitations results in incredible personal growth. Whether you want to overcome shyness and learn to speak to a crowd of people or you want to improve your confidence by going through the interview process, you cannot help but grow as an individual by taking part in a pageant. Of course, most every girl who enters a pageant has the dream of ultimately winning the title, and that is to be expected. But, along the way you will be giving back to your community, engaging in a cause that is greater than yourself, and making incredible friendships with others who are just like you. Those are the reasons that most people keep coming back to pageants time and time again, whether they win the crown or not. (Read: How to Choose the Right Platform for You)
You can never really know what to expect from a pageant your first time around until you actually compete. You may be drawn to pageants because of the drama and the excitement of becoming a queen, but what you will soon learn is that there are so many other worthwhile benefits to being in a pageant. Hopefully, you’ve learned a bit more of what to expect and what to do to prepare yourself for when you are ready to take the pageant plunge.
And, when you do decide to enter your first pageant, Pageant Planet will be with you every step of the way! (Read: How to Find a Beauty Pageant to Compete in)
Why not start you pageant journey by signing up for our free Pageant Preparation Course?
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