The pageant experience

Jessica Taylor

If you’ve been reading the Lariat for a while, you know that I not only support beauty pageants, but I am a pageant participant. Pageants offer to women the unique opportunity to show off physical fitness, grace, beauty, and intelligence.

When I saw an advertisement for the Miss Newport Beach pageant, I knew I had to see what it was all about. I attended the mandatory orientation and was a little put off that the director decided to eliminate personal interview, which was supposed to count for 35% of the total score.

I love interview because I have a brain and an opinion on most things, not to mention I love to talk!

I was very surprised however when they asked us to leave the room so they could set up. When we re-entered the room, they had set up a mini-dinner had professional etiquette training for us, including how to greet people, set a table, and eat with poise.

This etiquette class was just one of the things the director offered to help the girls in preparation for the pageant. Most of the contestants had never been in any sort of competition like this before, and to aid them several tools were donated by local sponsors.

One hour bi-weekly fitness classes were available for contestants at no charge. Makeup classes with application tips and information about the differences between every day makeup and stage makeup were available to the contestants at no charge.

Hair styling classes to help us girls learn about giving our hair the best amount of volume and how to style hair to best suit individual features at no charge. All the swimsuits were donated from so that contestants didn’t have to purchase their own.

The option to borrow a dress from a popular store so that contestants didn’t have to purchase their own was available. A local dentist donated teeth whitening, a local ski spa offered facial and toning treatments. Toastmasters offered a free three-week intensive public speaking training.

Everything was at no charge. Everything was donated. Everything was offered to help the contestants feel as beautiful as possible and keeping the overall pageant costs down to a bare minimum.

This was the reason that even though interview was removed from the breakdown, I chose to stay in the pageant and not pursue another one.

For only having a background in media and advertising and having never put together a pageant of any kind, this director did a very good job drawing local support and media attention. However, when it came to actual production things were very unorganized.

Media, including men, were allowed in the back room. The dressing room. Where in a beauty pageant, women need to dress.

After they were finally asked to leave at the request of a contestant (ahem), other girls were grateful for the privacy.

The rehearsal we were supposed to have featured a walking specialist to help us look our best with model confidence.

Unfortunately, because the lighting also needed to be set up, we were not given an opportunity to run through the show and get a feel for what would actually go on. We were, thankfully, given a good amount of time to prepare and put our makeup on and get personally organized.

When it was time to go on stage, most girls found that they were fairly comfortable and at ease in front of the crowd, which was around 400. The preparations we were given gave all the girls great confidence.

Unfortunately, the venue we were at and the pageant staff, part of the advertising firm run by the director, allowed people to drink while in the audience.

And there was no curtain or separation of the contestants with members from the audience, so people could talk to the contestants at any time.