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price of pageantry

The High Price of Pageantry – What Were We Thinking? Pt. 3

by Angie Camp

What Were We Thinking? Pt.3

– The Full High Price of Pageantry –

My personal pageant path…

Although I qualify as a pageant queen, I wasn’t really pageant queen material. The price of pageantry didn’t quite fit in my family’s budget. I was a hick from the sticks. What clothes weren’t hand-me-downs, we primarily bought at yard sales. But, God has quite a sense of humor and is without limits. Pageants was an avenue God used as a stepping stone to scholarships and opportunities I would otherwise not have had. 

My desire to go to college seemed impossible, until a lady who was a regular at the local Big Star where I worked heard me sing at her church. While checking out at my register one fateful day, she said with conviction, “I just think you ought to be in the Miss Tupelo pageant.” This particular local pageant was a preliminary to the Miss America Pageant. I followed her advice and entered.

My feeble means…

Clueless, I acquired a pageant wardrobe, consisting of a borrowed prom dress, and an interview outfit. For the swimsuit competition, I wore a one-piece I had already purchased for the summer. As a graduation gift, someone was kind enough to pay off my talent dress in lay-a-way. I wore the same pair of stark white heels from Wal-Mart with every outfit. My price of pageantry was less than $100.

God’s plans prevail…

I competed against contestants who wore custom-made attire for each phase of the competition and utilized the megabucks spent on voice, piano, and dance lessons. Yet, somehow, I was the one who stood out.

For talent I sang, receiving a standing ovation by the audience and the judges.  Winning talent and placing in other categories put me over the top to win the crown that night. Even though my interview was an epic fail, my academic ignorance couldn’t even thwart God’s plan.

The fallout…

Recognizing the supernaturalness of that event still did not prevent me from experiencing some negative emotions. Chatter of some of the contestants and their parents, regarding my “laughable” win, got to my ears. It hurt. 

At Miss Mississippi, intimidation and feelings of inferiority set in. Although I met some precious contestants and had a blast, I witnessed girls pull some very mean stunts to sabotage other contestants whom they viewed as a threat. I watched known-rivals put on a show of false affection towards one another. Sadly, the winner was not a shock. I was told ten months prior to the state pageant who the winner was going to be. She had been groomed for it. It was her year. Still, I won the Board of Trustees Award, which meant more scholarship money for me. I was thrilled!

The Price of Pageantry

While pageants can boost confidence, combat shyness, teach goal-setting, open doors and provide scholarship money, it also has some very negative aspects that need to be considered.

Pageants can have major effects on one’s mental health. Eating disorders plague about 26% of pageant contestants. Pursuing a perfect and flawless look becomes an obsession. 

Pressure from Moms, especially those who are living vicariously through their daughters, can also lead to anxiety issues, fearing they cannot meet their expectations. Low-self esteem and poor body image are also common.

Pageants can also exploit women, setting a standard of what beauty is, while placing their personal self-worth in the hands of a select few. 

Although they project a natural beauty, it is a superficial front.

Custom accessories, such as hairpieces, porcelain teeth plates, false eyelashes, spray tans, colored contact lenses, and vinyl fingernails alter the real person, convincing them that they are not enough without them. 

Another price of pageantry is the cost of training in pageant etiquette, talent lessons, hair and make-up artists, and custom fittings, Astronomical costs for entry fees, photoshoots, travel and hotels, combined with the ongoing expense of wardrobe, costumes, and the superficial custom accessories can drain a family’s finances.

Just like with travel sports, the siblings often feel invisible and pushed aside. Many of their weekends are spent in their sister’s shadow.

So, what’s my point?

Knowing it was God’s plan for a particular reason kept me centered. It wasn’t meant to be a career, however, it was full of purpose. 

It was also my decision and my desire, not my mother’s. Don’t live vicariously through your daughter. Instead, enter a pageant offered for your age and fulfill your own dream. 

If it’s your daughter’s desire, encourage her to do it with pure motives and good goals in mind. Most importantly, be more focused on her inner beauty that is incorruptible, than outward beauty that is fleeting.

“Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord will be praised.” 

Proverbs 31:30

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Angie Camp is an author, speaker, and Christian Counselor. Aside from being a Mother and Grandmother “Peaches,” her primary focus is walking with women and girls along their journey from brokenness to healing, reminding them that the goal is not merely to survive, but to soar.

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