So you want to do a pageant? Believe me when I say, if you want to win a crown, there is a pageant for you somewhere out there. With hundreds to choose from, how do you decide which pageant is right for you?
Pageants are much like a job.
Each pageant system has prerequisites so you need to make sure you have the qualifications they are looking for to ensure your best possible chance at winning the title. I’m going to tell you upfront, pageantry is an expensive hobby sport. If you want the greatest return on your investment, do your research and plan wisely. You’ll want to enter pageants that score highest in the areas where you are strong and avoid those pageants whose focus is on the areas where you are weak.
For example, if my goal was to be Miss USA, depending on which state I live in and how many contestants there were competing, I might win the state title only being 5’3”; but my odds of winning the Miss USA title are a long shot. In my 40 years of watching the pageant, the shortest Miss USA I’ve ever seen crowned was 5’5” and she had other assets to make up for being on the shorter side. There are always exceptions to the rules but image how frustrated I would have become competing year after year in a system where the odds were against me. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t follow your heart if that’s truly your dream. Just be realistic in understanding that whenever you’re going against the odds, the journey may be harder.
Oh yes, I know some of you reading this may be thinking “but the paperwork says nothing about a height requirement and the director told me it doesn’t matter how tall I am”. Remember, there are always exceptions to the rules and a director doesn’t want to discourage contestants from participating in their pageant; but, this is where your power of keen observation will serve you well. Read the guidelines and watch what is actually happening at the pageant.
Another statement that you will see on applications is that “pageant coaching is not necessary”. But I am telling you, 99% of all titleholders have received some degree of coaching, advice, or help (whatever you want to call it) from an inside pageant person. This may occasionally happen in small local pageants or small preliminaries, but not in big pageants.
Before you enter any pageant, check out its credibility. Here are a few things to look for.
- How many years has it been operating?
- How many contestants enter the pageant each year? How many contestants return?
- Does the website provide complete information with names of the directors, email addresses and a phone number to contact them?
- Does the website have current photos of titleholder and up to date information on it?
- What are the qualifications of the people running the pageant?
When I go to a website, if there isn’t a name and complete contact information easily identifiable on the home page, red flags go up in my mind. This is just me personal, but I want first and last names of the people running the pageant, not just some “production company”.If a person has integrity, they’re going to attach their name to whatever product they are selling to make it easy for me to reach them.
If the pageant has been around for more than 5 years and the number of contestants remains the same or grows each year, it has a track record for you to check. Do your research. Most importantly, talk with current and former titleholders and contestants. Ask them about their experience. If possible, go watch the pageant first or ask if there is a DVD you can purchase so you can see the quality of the production. Believe me, the money you spend going to watch a pageant pales in comparison to how much money you’ll spend competing.
Make a personal assessment list.
Do you make good grades? Are you heavily involved with a service project? Are you a strong public speaker? Are you extremely photogenic? Do you know how to work the catwalk? Do you want to do pageants t hat have bathing suit competition? Do you have a strong talent? What do you want to do with your title? How old are you and what is your marital status? Once you have your list, start looking for pageants that showcase your strengths.
Know how much money you want to invest in a pageant and how far you are willing to travel.
If you have a grand total of $1000 to spend on a pageant, then you need to look local and small because you will easily spend at least $500 of that $1000 on your interview attire and formal gown alone. Realistically, you’ll spend $1000 just on your shoes, accessories, interview suit and gown. But there are pageants at all price points. The key is you must have clear boundaries upfront about your budget or you will quickly get in over your head financially. Instead of experiencing the fun and positive benefits you can develop through pageantry, you’ll be left feeling stressed out and have a bitter taste in your mouth about how much money it cost you.
Start small and work your way up.
If you insist on doing one of the big pageants your first time out, do yourself a huge favor and get a qualified coach to help guide you through the process. I’ve seen too many contestants spend their entire budget on a gown they thought was wonderful and it was not appropriate for the pageant system they were competing in. Not only did they not have a competition gown, but there was no more money for additional clothing, training, hair, makeup, professional headshot, travel expenses, and other required pageant fees.
There are new pageants springing up every year. If you’re a young girl or woman who wants to experience a pageant, there is one that is a fit for you. To find them, contact your state festival board, search online and ask people around in your community.
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Peak Pageant Season Is Here!
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Occasional my Facebook posts seem to hit a chord with people. I received so many direct inbox messages on this one that I thought it would be good to share with all of you in case you’re not on Facebook. I feel it is especially timely coming off a pageant weekend when there were so many deserving girls and women who were competing for one opportunity.
“You always pass failure on the way to success-Mickey Rooney.” When we're in the moment, disappointments may feel like failures. However, it's been my experience that they are merely rest stops on the way to our final destination. It's our choice as to whether we keep driving forward to get there, or stop in our tracks. The choice is ours, and I say put the pedal to the metal and press on :). Of course, this has resulted in a few speeding tickets in my life (LOL) but nothing ventured, nothing gain.
Rhonda Shappert is an expert pageant coach, an iPEC Certified Professional Coach, an Energy Leadership Index Master Practitioner, and a member of the International Coach Federation. She created Winning Through Pageantry® to partner with pageant contestants and their support people to provide complete pageant preparation, achieve winning results in life through pageantry, and to Succeed From The Inside Out®. She has over 30 years experience in the pageantry world as a contestant, judge, emcee, staff member, mother of daughters who compete, Mrs. Ohio America 2005, and has held multiple titles at the local, state and national levels.
Rhonda graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelors degree in Musical Theater from The Ohio State University and has performed on stage in 15 countries on the Asian, European and American continents. This mother of three home educates their children and has been married 22 years to her husband Stephen, is the former mayor of her community, and serves on the Board of Trustees for the Ohio Virtual Academy. She and her husband perform original contemporary Christian music. For more information on Rhonda, visit www.WinningThroughPageantry.com .