We all have a stereotypical image in our head when we hear the words ‘beauty pageant’. But what really goes on behind the scenes, and what is it actually like to take part? The good news is that you’re about to find out!
This weekend, I completed a Spartan Race, clambering over walls and beneath barbed wire before waking up very early to take part in the finals of Miss Hertfordshire 2016. Head over to http://www.spartanrace.uk to see more about what they do!
We’ve all seen the video of Miss South Carolina messing up her Miss World answer, and most people imagine that the girls go out there to publicise themselves while dreaming of ‘world peace’ and wearing bikinis to make a living.
As somebody who originally signed three years ago for a bit of a challenge with absolutely no idea what to expect, I can can confirm that this could not be further from the truth.
Beauty pageants have changed massively from when they first began, and a lot of work the girls do goes under the radar. The competitions are now based around the Miss World charity ‘Beauty With a Purpose’ and contestants use their creativity to fundraise to support this incredible cause, helping disadvantaged children throughout the world.
One of the rounds is the ‘Eco Dress’ round; where each girl wears a dress she has made herself, using recycled materials. This year the theme was ‘England’ and the dress had to include a red t-shirt, with some using the shirt as a base layer, and others even crafting the shirt into flowers. Whilst it may sound easy, this would test the most creative of girls, as making a dress which will withstand an entire day of practice as well as a quick-change quickly becomes very difficult.
My dress this year was made from the magazines of my sponsor; MyNewsMag. Despite leaving the making of the dress a little later than I should have, in hindsight, and having a few technical hitches, my dress (just about!) held together, and I was very happy with the outcome.
Not only does a huge amount of preparation go into the pageant, but the girls must also have the ability to sprint in heels, as you have what feels like around 3 seconds to get to the changing rooms, switch outfit and return to the stage. (Something definitely missing from the Olympics). In reality it is a couple of minutes, but you’d be surprised at how difficult it is to leap into a paper dress…
From the beginning of rehearsals at 10am, to going home around midnight, competitors are on their feet and in heels. I can in fact confirm that following an obstacle course race and then 14 hours in heels… My feet are not a particularly pretty sight.
The girls who take part have real ambitions, and as well as having to speak to a huge audience, have a responsibility of promoting the charity, working in the community as an ambassador, and being a positive role model to people of all ages and backgrounds before, during and after the competition. They’re all people with normal day jobs who are going out there and doing something to make a difference in their community, county and perhaps even their country.
Whilst it may seem a strange way to motivate people, or make the world a better place, I went out there determined to show that anybody can give it a go if they went for it. At 5’3″ I am around a foot shorter than the usual ‘beauty queen’, I spend more time in trainers than in heels, and when I laugh I have a tendency to sound as though I am suffocating a little. Aside from that, I don’t see any reason I shouldn’t be a beauty queen…
This year was most likely going to be my last beauty pageant, but after having so much fun and enjoying it more than ever… I’m incredibly tempted to give it another shot in 2017.
I’ll end in true fashion with a little thank you speech. I’d like to thank the organisers, judges, fellow competitors, sponsor and my family for making the night so memorable. But most of all, I would like to thank my boyfriend Dan, who sat up through the night lovingly stapling pieces of magazines to me. He put up with a very emotional, tired and grumpy girlfriend at times, but still stuck around to cheer me on in the finals.
Will this trainer-wearing blogge ever wear a tiara? Stay tuned.
Photo credit to David Freeman Photography