Misconceptions About Pageants

This year, I promised myself that I would step out of my comfort more often and try new things. I didn’t, however, plan on participating in a pageant but life has a really interesting way of sending new opportunities your way.

I participated in the MAITBC Miss Asia Pageant, which was held at the Mid America Asian Cultural Association festival. They had three different categories for contestants to compete in: Miss Teen Asia which was meant for the 13 to 17 age group, Miss Asia which was meant for the 18 to 35 age group, and Mrs. Asia which ranged from 20 to 80 age group.

I’m going to be painfully honest, my mom signed me up for the pageant because there was a really big need for Pakistani representation and it didn’t look like anyone else we knew was going to sign up. In the beginning, I wasn’t looking forward to it too much. I was really worried that it would be something like out of the “Pretty Hurts” music video by Beyonce.

It wasn’t anything like that, though. I definitely love to preach about not judging things before trying them, and I failed with that here, but having the opportunity to participate in this opened my eyes to the biases I carry surrounding pageants and pageant girls.

  1. 1. Pageant Girls Are All Extremely Skinny And Tall

    I will admit, I am pretty skinny for my height, but whenever I thought of pageant girls previously,  I always thought Bella Hadid skinny: 5’9” and weighing maybe 130 lbs. I felt really subconscious about my height and build when I first started out because I was afraid that I would be “too” short. It was really refreshing to see a variety of heights and builds represented within the pageant girls. Pageant girls are definitely not a monolith in any category whether that be build, height or looks.

  2. 2. Pageant Girls Are All Dumb

    This is obviously a stereotype perpetuated by movies but nonetheless is something that is still commonly believed. I didn’t quite believe this but I did worry that the girls I was competing with were airheads or would be super vain. But I ended up finding a lot of like-minded individuals that were interested in a lot of the things I’m into, like world events and social issues. Pageants are a lot of work and I don’t think people take that into account. I had to seriously hone my skill of multitasking and scheduling my life to keep everything on track to be able to attend practices, rehearsals, and so on. Pageant girls work extremely hard for pageants, and it’s not fair that they get overwritten as dumb.

  3. 3. Pageant Girls All Fight With Each Other

    This is probably the largest fallacy I’ve heard. As someone who has never participated in a pageant before, I was super nervous. The girls who had done the pageant before and were more familiar with how pageants run were giving me tips and encouraging me throughout the whole pageant. I joined the pageant late so I missed a lot of the bonding that most of the girls had gone through but by the end of the semifinals, I became good friends with all of the girls. These group of girls are super supportive and welcoming, and they are what really shaped my positive pageant experience. We all hyped each other up and helped each other with things like makeup, hair and even putting on our dresses. There were a lot of girls supporting girls moments.

I made it to the final round of the pageant somehow! They are supposed to be scheduled sometime in September. A date or a venue hasn’t been confirmed yet, but I can definitely say I’m already feeling those pageant nerves again just thinking about it. However, I’m also super excited to take part in a pageant again because I feel like it really helped me with my public speaking and my ability to present myself in the way that I want to an audience. I am so thankful to Carol Wei for guiding me through this pageant and constantly giving me words of encouragement! I hope that when you think of pageants in the future you will reconsider all of the possible biases you hold.