Kellen Takenaka, Ms. US World 2015-2016
It's easy to get down in the dumps about a Ms. title. Historically, the Ms. title in front of a name denoted a divorcee or the crazy cat lady down the street. It tends to mark the time when youth is lost on us and we are no longer privy to the Miss title and marriage has either failed or yet to come. In these lights, it has rarely been positive. But, Ms. also represents women who didn't change their last name when they married and has become the safe alternative to use when you don't know to put Mrs. or Miss before a name. There have long been Miss and Mrs. pageants. Miss America ages out at age 24. When Miss America first started you were to be married at 24, so it's no surprise. Miss USA accepts contestants up to age 27, which adds a little more time for ladies in their 20s. Mrs. pageants start at age 21. So, what about those of us who are quickly approaching age 30 and/or life has thrown a few curveballs by way of marriage or motherhood? Or those of us who haven't achieved either, but in the eyes of the pageant world are too old to be a Miss? Thankfully, it's the 21st century and directors are opening doors to Ms. pageants that embrace women who do not fit into traditional roles and all the beauty they behold. (Read: Top 10 Ms. Pageants of 2014).
Maturity can go a long way in a pageant. For starters, you have an informed opinion. You are speaking from experience and not just from a binder of current events.
You can speak on a variety of topics from politics to sports. You're aware of the events in the world around you, not just on the college campus you attend.
Ms. contestants are also able to really consider what the title can do for them and their platform as well as what they can do as a representative for the pageant. They often know how to market themselves as a woman and as a titleholder.
"I see the biggest positive with a Ms. pageant is our maturity. Since you have had time to mature, you can really grasp the opportunities afforded to you with competing for or winning a Ms. title. No matter your age, a pageant can open many doors if you are willing to see and work towards the opportunities in front of you," said Natasha Johnson, Ms. Woman North Carolina United States 2016.
You may have competed in pageants before, but if not, odds are you've competed for promotions and other job opportunities. You know how to make yourself stand out in a group.
"Ms. Pageants give women who have already established themselves as leaders professionally or through community service a platform to amplify their existing work and make a larger impact in their communities. A title gives these women a voice and access to important people and resources," said Melissa Hill, Ms. District of Columbia United States 2015 and reigning 2016 International Ms.
Melissa Hill, Ms. District of Columbia United States 2015. Photo courtesy of Melissa Hill.
Ms. Pageants Celebrate YOU
Many Miss pageants celebrate your accomplishments scholastically, community service wise, talent, or platform. Mrs. pageants recognize wives and mothers and their accomplishments in their communities.
However, a Ms. pageant celebrates your success as a woman, with no man required.
"A contestant in a Ms. Pageant has usually had more of an opportunity to work on developing her career and community service work than a woman competing for a Miss or Mrs. pageant. A Miss pageant contestant is usually younger and hasn’t had as much time to build her career. While a woman competing in a Mrs. pageant may have prioritized her husband and/or children over other areas of her life," said Hill.
While having a family is admirable and being a mom is something many women dream of and say they want to be when they grow up, there is also a growing population of women who do not find themselves in that role for a number of reasons.
The Mission is Different
Ms. pageants offer their contestants prize packages and opportunities that work around their careers. Often, Miss titleholders have to put their lives on hold to serve their year, but Ms. pageants work within the confines of your career with the mission of celebrating you and your accomplishments as you continuing to grow and set goals for yourself.
They also do not discriminate based on life circumstances, allowing women who may be disqualified from other divisions due to marriage, divorce, age, or motherhood the opportunity to compete. (Read: How to Succeed at the Miss Earth Goddess Pageant)
"At the end of the day, all Ms., Mrs., and Miss pageants have a common goal of succeeding at being the best you. If I am honest, the will and desire to win remains the same no matter what age division you participate in," said Johnson. "I think each pageant reflects a different stage of life. When I competed as a Miss, I was still trying to figure out who I was and what I wanted to be. It’s a growing stage. Miss America helped you with crucial college funds to get to that next stage of life. Miss USA, Miss United States and other Miss’ pageants helped you then launch your career with opportunities in many fields including entertainment and modeling."
"As a Ms., you are at the stage where you have had the time to find a career and discover what you do and do not want in life. You have had the time to mature and seek new opportunities that maybe you missed while competing in a Miss pageant. It may also represent a new opportunity in life if you have previously been married or have children. Miss’ pageants require you to have never been married or have had children, a key difference! I feel like a Mrs. pageant is where you have it all. Your life is pretty much settled in the bigger areas of life such as family. Even though you may have reached that stage where life is a bit more complete, you still have the same goals and aspirations as a Miss or Ms. Though our bodies, age and future goals will all differ, the common goal of being the best you remains the same in each and every pageant," Johnson continued.
Natasha Johnson, Ms. Woman North Carolina United States 2016, being crowned. Photo courtesy of Natasha Johnson, Photo By Angelia Hudson Photography
You Can Still Have Goals For Yourself
We hear it all the time that we should have hobbies outside of our careers and our families. Ms. pageants allow you just that opportunity. (Read: How to Succeed at Miss All-Star United States)
"I believe a Ms. pageant provides a unique experience and opportunity for women. For starters, it is a pageant that honors various ages as well as being previously married and/or having had children. At any age, having something that requires you to set goals is always a positive as we are never too young nor too old for personal growth. Since I am now 30, I have found that I have had time to settle into life, a career and discover causes that mean a lot to me," said Johnson.
Ms. pageants also give you a reason to look and feel your absolute best and motivate you to do more than come home after a long day and lay on the couch.
"Ms. Pageants also give women in their late 20's and 30's an opportunity to feel glamorous and the motivation to set physical fitness goals. Nothing motivates me more to exercise and eat healthy than knowing I’ll be in a swimsuit on stage in a few weeks," said Hill.
You Are Not Too Old
We all take different paths in life. Sometimes we hit road blocks and hang ups that prevent us for succeeding at one stage or another. Sometimes we were hitting the books or pounding the pavement in our careers. Sometimes we stand still while everyone around us moves forward. (Read: How to Win Ms. Galaxy)
Perhaps you dread going onto social media due to the massive amounts of new job, engagement, marriage, pregnancy, and birth announcements. While we find ourselves happy for our friends, for those who have yet to walk down those paths, it can be discouraging. Let's not get into the holidays with family asking questions of, "When will you..." or "Will you ever... again?"
While Miss pageants aged us out when we just felt like we were getting our feet on the ground and knew what we stood for, Ms. pageants have stepped in to fill that gap.
"My advice is that you are absolutely not too old to compete! I didn’t start my pageant career or even consider pageantry until I was already into my 30's. I spent my 20's toiling away in law school and building my career," said Hill.
Melissa Hill, 2016 International Ms. at a photo shoot. Photo courtesy of Melissa Hill.
She added, "Pageantry has given me a fresh opportunity to tap into my feminine side, feel glamorous, and has motivated me to get into the best physical shape of my life. I have also made amazing new female friends through the process. Besides, with all the advances in the cosmetics field today, women are able to maintain their youthful appearance longer and longer and are just as attractive as their 20 something counterparts well into their 30's, 40's and 50's. Hello Jennifer Aniston and Michelle Pfieffer!"
Though you may feel as though you were just reaching your prime days when you aged out, the desire to succeed and speak for what you believe in doesn't disappear just because you reached a certain age.
"My last pageant I participated in, before I decided to compete again this year, was 3 years ago when I 'aged out.' Even though I was 'too old' by some standards, my desire to improve myself and my life skills did not suddenly disappear because I was a year older. These days I see so many more opportunities for women, especially in our 30's and 40's," said Johnson.
She continued, "Ultimately, a girl or woman that makes a successful titleholder is one that is confident, well spoken, engaged in her community, and beautiful. These traits do not go away because you feel 'too old.' If anything, you are probably more prepared to do the job as a titleholder because you have the maturity and experience. So if you feel like you have it, go for it!"
Natasha Johnson after crowning as Ms. Woman North Carolina United States 2016. Photo courtesy of Natasha Johnson. Photo by Angelia Hudson Photography.
Advice Moving Forward
If you really want to be a Ms. contestant, no matter your past pageant experience, go for it!
"Advice I would tell anyone: Do not let the opinions of others limit you. In life, people will tell you you are unqualified or silly for believing you can be someone or do something. Often times things are disqualified because of age. Those people are wrong. Even if you fail, at least you had the courage to try, and that is the definition of true success," said Johnson. (Read: How to Overcome Pageant Criticism From Friends and Family)
So go after it ladies! No matter your circumstances, or whether you're a Ms., Mrs. or Miss, embrace it. To find other Ms. pageants search The Pageant Planet Directory.
Her tip is: "Remember you are fearfully and wonderfully made.”Learn More