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5 Things Pageantry Has Taught Me About The Real World

When most people think of beauty pageants, they will probably think of that “picture perfect” type of girl: a perfect body, glamorous hair and makeup and parading around in a dress just to win a crown at the end of it all. This is what I first thought too before I started doing pageants. However, after five years of competing, I began to realize there was a whole other side that the public doesn’t always see. 

I began doing pageants in 2015 right when I turned 16 years old. When asked for the first time if I ever wanted to do a pageant I was thrown off to such a suggestion. Of course growing up I watched “Miss America” every year and “Toddlers and Tiaras” just for fun, but never imagined myself in that setting. Flash forward five years and I have competed in eight pageants and have gained some of the most valuable life skills I never would have imagined. Here are five things that the dainty, yet hardworking pageant world has taught me through my personal experience.   

Public speaking and finding my voice through interviewing.

This is one of the most crucial parts of competing in pageants. Most pageant systems do interviews behind the scenes, so that is why the audience doesn’t see it happen in public. However, it’s one of the most critical portions of the competition. In some systems, the interview even calculates to half of your entire score for the entire competition.

During the interview, girls get the chance to have an opportunity to present themselves and talk with the judges one-on-one. This is when a girl can be her most authentic self and speak about her passions, interest, hobbies and so much more to open up to the judges on who she truly is and what makes her different from other contestants.

Interviews are such a valuable part in pageantry because it trains you for public speaking, different skills including eye contact and posture and even how to present your best self. Although I found this to be the most nerve-wracking part of competing, it also became one of my absolute favorites. Through this type of experience, I was able to gain more confidence in my public speaking abilities and learn how to interview for pretty much anything.

Educating myself and speaking on relevant issues.

Another part of pageantry that many people don’t know about is the importance of talking about current events. In most pageants, one of the final parts of the competition is an onstage question. During this, girls are asked one specific question they either choose or are assigned and they must answer in less than 30 seconds.

Onstage questions can include topics such as politics, human rights issues, social issues, mental/physical health issues and many more. Researching these topics helps the contestants formulate a well-structured answer using facts to support their opinions while also answering it within the time limit. Practicing for this portion of the competition forces contestants to have the opportunity to educate themselves, and form their own thoughts on current events relevant in today’s world.

Confidence

Confidence was honestly one of the largest factors of beauty pageants that shocked me in a good way. When my aunt first asked me to do a pageant I was in a very sad and lonely place in my life. Of course high school has its ups and downs, but it was a time when I felt extremely lost in the world.

When the words, “You should try doing a pageant,” came out of my aunt’s mouth, I didn’t even know how to react. I thought she was crazy. However after deciding to go and try it out, I began to feel more confident and able to find my path.

Other than the crazy amount of butterflies from the nerves of praying I wouldn’t fall in my high heels, I felt a sense of accomplishment after finishing my first pageant. Many girls find a sense of confidence once they keep pushing through and competing more. After becoming more comfortable with the routine of competing, it  becomes second nature to you. However, it still takes a lot of work to get there.

The biggest lesson I have learned from this is that there is a difference between confidence and cockiness. It just depends on how a girl chooses to display herself in that way on the stage. When confidence becomes more prominent in your performance, it makes it a lot easier to have fun.

Failure is OK.

This is one lesson that many people in any competition or setting are going to have to face. This can happen in a beauty pageant, a sports competition, a dance competition, or maybe even a position for a job. There will be times that you will fail, and not get what you want, and that is OK. Many people will always jump to asking “why was it not me that won?” or “what was wrong with me that they didn’t like me enough?”

Failure is something that I have learned to help me more than let it ruin me. As someone who never made the top five at any national competition, it was a way for me to reflect more on what I could do better next time. It’s a hard lesson for many people to grasp, especially when you want to be the absolute best. Although the goal of any competition is to win, pageants are more about what you learn from the experience.

Becoming a role model and leader for others.

Pageants can pave the way to become your own type of leader, with or without a crown. With an increase of confidence, you also develop your own way of displaying leadership among others. Leadership is built into pageantry because we want to become role models for other people.

Being someone that others can look up to gives people a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction to know that their hard work will pay off in the long run. Whether this is making an appearance at a local community event, or volunteering with others, one small thing can really go a long way in someone else’s world. By implementing the importance of developing leadership skills, it can help pave a way for you to do this in other parts of your life as well that aren’t pageant related. Once these leadership skills become a part of your life, you can take them to anything you do in life. 

In conclusion, pageants have helped me gain a lot more other than makeup tips or how to dress up like a queen in the spotlight. They have given me some of the most important life skills I take into my everyday life. Being someone who has competed in pageants has been one of the most rewarding experiences in my life and I feel so grateful for everything it has taught me and how I can continue to apply it all to the real world. 

Mika Mantha

Hofstra '22

Mika Mantha is a public relations major at Hofstra University, and is also working towards a minor in photography. She currently resides in Massachusetts, but has lived in three different states throughout her childhood (insane right)! When she is not napping or binging a new Netflix series, you can catch her being an avid shopaholic (it's a problem), cracking really dumb jokes or striking up the most random conversations with literally anyone, or taking pictures and exploring new music in her spare time.
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