This Isn't Your Mama's Pageant
We have all seen that TLC show, or heard about it. You know the one with the mini spray-tanned adult looking tots, the way over priced clothes and over-the-top theatrics that make for train-wreck programming. The world of Jon Bonet Ramsey and the thousands of dollars spent on what it takes to win a 5 foot- tall trophy, a crown you cannot wear in public, and a reputation for throwing temper tantrums of Honey Boo Boo proportions. Then there is the flip side the likes of Miss America, Miss USA, and Miss Universe where the contestants are perfectly poised, polished, and height/weight proportional. Streamed from the glam towers of Vegas, every little girl who is not perfect wishes they looked like the perfection on the stage.
If what I have written resembles your opinion of pageants, or what your experience with them has been, it should. However, there is a plus side few speak of, as if it were an unwritten rule: Thou Shalt Not Speak of Pageant Positives. There seems to be a backlash of back biting and looking for the queen to fall. The bad seems to always take precedence over the good.
"There's a good side to pageants?" You ask. Yes, indeed, there is. There are excellent systems out there who guide young ladies in the art of poise, good sportsmanship, and public speaking. Each one comes with a modicum of rules for decorum, such as how one conducts themselves in public, social media, how to cope with social anxiety, and to be an ambassador for various charities. Even with these positive aspects, there are some crucial things missing due to being outdated with the demands of society.
Real American Pageants aims to turn pageantry upside down, one pageant at a time by accepting the things that make people unique and not segregating individuals who do not fit the mold of typical "beauty queen" stereotypes. Contestants are encouraged to be themselves, right down to the colored hair, tattoos and Birkenstocks! Those with family friendly tattoos are not turned away and those "of a certain age" are greeted with cheers from contestants and staff alike, since there are no age requirements adopted by most other systems. People from all walks of life compete side by side, the only thing separating them is what they bring to the table, not what they wear.
Independent film producers, casting agents, models, and sound professionals volunteer their time as judges and mentors to help contestants succeed in an ever-fickle world that is the Entertainment Industry. These judges are looking for people they can cast for projects either in print, film, web, and music.