The feminism in pageantry

I believe that every female should participate in at least one pageant in her lifetime (particularly by her 18th birthday).   As someone that has competed successfully on local, state, national and international stages, I will explain why…

The Feminist movement began because since our nation’s inception, women had been treated as second-class citizens. We did not have a voice, were forbidden education, career opportunities and the right to vote.  In 2014, women still fight for equal pay and competitive opportunities, and I suggest pageantry as a training regimen to give women the competitive edge and life skills that transform them into leaders ready to take the world by storm.

The public sees an onstage question competition … this competition teaches a woman how to have poise under pressure.  It teaches her to have the strength to stand alone and articulate her personal convictions with authority. Public speaking under pressure is an art.

The public hears about an interview competition that takes place before the finals they see on television … this competition, in my opinion matters most, and is the most difficult. It places you at a podium (a clear one!), in front of a panel of judges, to be questioned, press conference style about anything from national security and politics to your personal aspirations and platform. Imagine trying to look your best, maintain poise and posture, and maintain good eye contact with each person in the room, while articulating educated and thoughtful responses! This portion of competition, more than any other, prepares women for real life. My successes in interviews for academic scholarships, in my nursing career and for political endorsements, are credited to the work that went into pageant interview preparation.

The public sees a swimsuit competition … this competition is designed to teach contestants to live healthy lifestyles and to embrace the skin you’re in. It is the culmination of months in the gym, eating healthy and finding the perfect suit to flaunt your favorite parts and disguise those least favorite parts. This competition is about poise: I cannot tell you how hard it is to stand onstage, under the lights, in high heels, with your shoulders back and head held high saying, “This is me! I worked hard for this body!”
The public sees an evening gown competition … this competition is designed to teach women how to carry themselves in a formal environment. Are you poised? Can you be graceful? The prettiest, most expensive gown doesn’t win…it’s about the girl and the way she carries herself! Carriage in an evening gown transforms girls into ladies.

The public sees a talent competition…this competition allows a woman to express herself through the arts.  Whether she has trained in this art for years or recently picked it up, it requires discipline, dedication and confidence in oneself. It makes her well-rounded.

Lastly, the public hears each contestant talk about a platform … this component is not judged but may teach women the most important life lesson of all. It asks them to identify issues in the community and volunteer their time to educate, advocate and bring awareness to the issue using their title. It teaches the importance of using a position of influence to positively impact your community.

I know … the world of pageantry is often criticized. Many condemn women for subjecting themselves to judging, labeling it demeaning. In addition, the media-dramatized backstage catfights and embarrassing onstage question responses lurk on the Internet. Still, thousands of women compete annually on the local, state, national and international level; many ask why? Well, let me tell you, the payoff is way more than a crown, sash, scholarship and title. From the outside looking in, a pageant appears to be nothing more than a subjective judging of one’s physical appearance and how well a single question can be answered. As you can see, there is so much more.

I am an athlete and I often suggest that pageantry is a sport in its own right.  So much so that The Weekend Sports Buzz (the sports radio show I cohost) allows me a segment prior to every major pageant to discuss the competition, the favorites, even take friendly wagers among the team on who we think will win. So why is pageantry a sport?  It’s because we train and compete … and we train hard!

Our nation, in every industry, is in need of leaders who are poised under pressure, able to articulate their convictions in a way that moves people to action, and who are comfortable in their own skin. We need leaders who have a social conscious and understand the importance of using a position of influence to bring about positive change in the community.  I suggest that regardless of her political party, there is no woman more trained to lead than a #BeautyQueen.