From dresses and crowns to caps and gowns

Tiffany Martel

Who says a pageant girl can’t have beauty and brains?

Many people have a mindset that pageant girls are “airheads” or “ditsy”. What they don’t realize is there is a lot more to this group of young ladies. If you really knew what it takes to compete in these organizations, you might change your mind.

Most think beauty pageants are just a bunch of ladies dressing up in sparkly dresses, having voluminous hair and high-heeled shoes. Yes, that is all true, but what most people don’t know is the other half of the competition. These competitions, especially the Miss America Organization, are based off of academics and specific platforms. This means the contestants must be part or full-time students and work with something that is special to them. For example: Giving back to our community schools or breast cancer awareness. It can be anything that you do to give back to your community; it is as if you are an advocate for your platform.

Another big facet of the pageant most don’t know about is how much these young ladies have to be aware of current events. These current events can be about global news, local news and political news. As a contestant, you are given a 10-minute interview with a panel of five judges who will ask you all types questions. There are a significant amount of people who just think they ask about the contestants and how long they’ve been doing pageants.

When these groups of ambitious young ladies compete in these pageants, it’s much more than just a crown and title. Many of them are doing it for the scholarship money that they earn throughout the year. Just alone this year, Miss America received a $50,000 scholarship toward her university and over $45 million was awarded for local and state contestants as well.

Speaking first hand, I competed in the Miss America Organization and won a local title, going on to compete as a state finalist. It wasn’t because I wanted a crown and sash; I entered because of the scholarship money I was able to gain. And no, it wasn’t the $50,000 that Miss America received, but it was still enough to pay for part of my tuition and book fees. It was just great to receive any amount because every little bit helps.

So when young women feel reserved about entering a pageant, they should know that it’s about more than the dresses. Young college girls should want to enter so they can gain scholarship money to help out their tuition, and you never know, it could pay your way through college. Just know it’s not all about the beauty; the brains are a huge part to it as well. And the next time you hear the word, “pageant girl,” remember these are a set of ambitious, smart ladies who want to further their education.

These women are not just blonde, vapid girls who like to dress up. These are the young and ambitious women of the U.S.