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I was 17 years old when I competed in my first pageant. Prior to that experience, I had zero interest in the pageantry industry. I thought pageants were for those “pretty, popular girls,” and I didn’t believe I fit into that category. I was that girl that was comfortable wearing jeans and a t-shirt who was content with being a straight-A student, student leader, and singer. The truth is I suffered from low self-esteem and a lack of self-confidence. It wasn’t until I received a letter in the mail asking me to be a part of the Miss Teen of Alabama pageant that I shifted my mindset about pageantry. Through my experience at Miss Teen of Alabama, I learned that what I possessed on the inside of me is of utmost importance. My looks, my family background, or my socioeconomic status did not matter. In spite of everything, I was worth celebrating.
Now 17 years later, the pageantry industry has taught me more about myself that I could ever imagine. Through this industry, I was able to find myself. I bet you are wondering how an industry that is filled with glitz and glamour can help someone find themselves. Let me show you.
#1 Pageantry helped me find my confidence
Pageantry empowered me to step out of my comfort zone. I had to learn how to interview in front of a panel of judges, model an evening gown, and answer an onstage question. The latter two are done in front of hundreds of people. Many of those people I didn’t know or never would have encountered had it not been for a pageant. The thought of this may sound overwhelming or scary, but once I took that step, there was confidence on the other side. The only way I was truly able to gain the confidence I needed to successful was to do what made me uncomfortable. This new found confidence has empowered me to start businesses, write books, and pursue acting just to name a few.
#2 Pageantry helped me find my voice
I have always been a quiet person. I never liked confrontation, and I was not always comfortable expressing my opinion without fear of persecution. Pageantry helped me find my voice. The industry taught me I had a voice that was important regardless of what others thought about it. Pageantry also gave me the courage to talk about a health issue that I had been battling with for years. Through pageantry, I was given a platform to talk about my battle with endometriosis. Now, every chance I get I educate others about this debilitating disease so they can be advocates for their own health. My ability to share my story has opened doors to be a part of worldwide publications and campaigns. This may have never happened had it not been for the industry allowing me to be candid and share my story.
#3 Pageantry helped me find my purpose
This industry birthed my purpose. I always loved empowering women and girls, and it wasn’t until I started competing that I knew what I was put on this Earth to do. Essentially pageantry became my ministry, and I use it as a vehicle to empower women and girls to create clear visions for their lives so they can experience success. The industry is much more than gowns and crowns; lives are being changed for the better. Goals are being accomplished, and dreams are being realized.
As you can see, pageantry has impacted me in many ways. I am grateful I got the opportunity to experience the industry and grow into the woman I am today. Who knew that a simple letter in the mail could have such an impact?