At age 5, my mom brought home a full length royal blue, crushed velvet dress she had borrowed from my cousin. To complete the outfit, she also had long white gloves, white patent leather shoes and a beautiful pearl headband. The ensemble was now fit for a princess. She announced that I was going to be in the local Snow Queen contest. I had no idea what that meant, but I loved the outfit and I was very excited to get all dressed up.
Besides the thrill of being on stage under the bright lights, walking down the long runway, the laughter/cheering of the audience, and receiving a brand new silver dollar from gigantic snowmen (OK, the businessmen who dressed as snowmen were a bit scary at the time), what I remember most about the evening was the special time I had with my family, feeling good about who I was, and most definitely wanting to do it again! Yes, I was hooked and that was the beginning of a lifetime of pageantry.
As a teen, I won four local and state titles, and enjoyed every aspect of pageantry. For me, each pageant was a time for self discovery, family bonding and, oh, so much fun. Most of my fondest memories and closest relationships stem from my years in pageantry.
After the birth of my third daughter, I discovered the world of pageantry for married women. Nothing will motivate a woman faster to shed that baby fat than having to wear a bathing suit in front of an audience. With the exceptions of my first and last pageants, of the eleven I participated in, I always placed in the top five. I was honored to receive the state title of Mrs. Ohio America 2005 (www.MrsOhioAmerica2005.com), and the national title of Ms. American Women Over 30.
During this decade of my life, I also became an experienced judge; a polished emcee/public speaker; and a pageant staff member. Hoping to help others receive the same joys and life skills that I developed when working with my pageant coach, I started pageant coaching on the side.
This whole time, my daughters observed what I did, participated in my public appearances, and grew up. At ages 11, 9 and 7, they expressed an interest in trying pageants for themselves. They started as festival queens and moved up to Cinderella state titleholders. At first it felt odd to be the mother of pageant participants, realizing the circle of life had begun. But it was a natural progression as our family continued our journey with pageantry in a style that focused on balance, personal development, quality family time and service to others.
My transition from hobby status into professional pageant coaching began when my daughters and I attended an international pageant in Las Vegas. Although I had seen negative pageant behavior on TV shows, it was the first time I had personally witnessed the devastating effects a demanding mother could have on her daughter’s self esteem and self worth. I was in absolute shock over what I was seeing and hearing. I didn’t personally know that mother/daughter team; however, I did know there was going to be long lasting consequences not only to that little 8 year old girl’s self image, but to their relationship as well.
When I came back, I started exploring how I could use my decades of deep expertise of the industry to help contestants experience the fullness of pageantry and strengthen their relationships in life. With that, I created Winning Through Pageantry- Succeed From the Inside Out®.
If you would like to use pageantry as a fun tool for self discovery, I encourage you to participate in one of my bootcamps, teleclasses or private coaching sessions.
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Your ability to see beyond the pageant night will determine how fulfilling your pageant experience will be. If you only want a crown, then I would suggest taking the money you’re going to spend on your pageant shoes alone, and buy the prettiest crown you can find online. You’re investment of time and money preparing for the pageant will far exceed the price tag of a crown. However, if you’re looking at pageantry as a vehicle to drive you to other places in your life, then you’re in the right place.
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 21 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. Their music CD entitled Cana is available through www.cdbaby.com/cd/shappert or on her website. For more information on Rhonda, visit www.WinningThroughPageantry.com .