Everyone who does a pageant has a story; I am no exception. This year I competed with over 180 other girls for the title Miss New York USA. The Miss Universe program is acknowledged as the most competitive pageant system, and the state of New York is one of the hardest to win. A record one hundred and eighty six girls competed this year.
My biggest take away from the weekend was that you need to extensively research which pageant you should compete in. The Miss USA pageant is nothing more than a beauty pageant. They allegedly have a scholarship program, but that is a stretch. The scholarship is small and awarded only to an unremarkable school in upstate New York. I would be surprised to hear that any winner actually used the money.
If you have a career, extensive schooling and anything that passes as a talent you need to be competing in the Miss America system. More on that later.
Miss USA is not a scholarship program; however, it is an excellent beauty pageant. The competition is made up of three parts: interview, swim wear and evening gown. The interview is only two minutes long. The judges could not care less about your accomplishments, they only want to see that you can string together a few words without sounding daft (an accomplishment for some girls). You could say anything in interview if you answer the question they ask, and answer it confidently.
Anyone considering Miss New York USA should know that at least eighty percent of the girls have never competed in a pageant before. Quite a few girls posted on social media that they “qualified” and “were selected” to compete. Don’t be fooled, there is no selection process to become a state finalist. Anyone can pay to play, and pay you will… If you pay early you can compete to the tune of $1,300. If you wait you will pay $1,500. Miss USA is a business. They would have double the number of girls compete if they could.
You are not special because you are selected, you are special because you chose to sign up.
The swimsuit competition is your chance to hit the runway. I don’t know many people that are thrilled at the prospect of strutting the stage in what may as well be lingerie. Deciding to step on the runway is a massive accomplishment. The pageant asks that you wear a solid color suit, and if you want to win you will wear a bikini that shows off your fabulous spray tan.
During this portion of the competition it becomes obvious how many girls felt uncomfortable with their bodies. I cannot count how many vegan, calorie counting machines I met competition weekend. Fortunately, I am a long distance runner and that takes care of my body well enough. I didn’t diet extensively for the competition. To fuel my body for long distance running I have to feed myself well. I do not run so that I can compete. Running is my lifestyle, the pageant was a two day event. The pageant certainly motivated me to be a more diligent runner, but that is just the beginning. I will run for the rest of my life.
I witnessed so many ladies making changes in their lifestyle just for the pageant. What good is it to develop new, healthy habits if they do not last?
The second most prevalent mistake I noticed were girls competing who could not afford to. If you are going to compete in the Miss USA system you need to have at least $2,500 readily available. The entry is too steep to halfway commit. You need a professionally done headshot, hair and makeup hired out (unless you are a makeup artist or stylist yourself), and you need a stunning gown.
If you can’t afford it don’t compete, it is most likely going to lead to regret. A girl this weekend told me she was feeling pessimistic about the finals, and that she was upset because this was her vacation money… I gave her the best advice I could, “It’s not about being pessimistic, it’s statistics. You have a 1 out of 186 chance of winning. That’s less than a one percent.” There were at least fifty girls this weekend competing that won the genetic lottery. Any of one of those fifty could have one and nobody would have batted an eye, the prettiest girl their had a 2% chance of success.
If you don’t have the money compete in Miss America. They only ask that you fundraise $100 dollars to compete. It is a much more palatable entry fee. Miss America is truly a scholarship program, not an enterprise. They want girls who have talent, they want girls with a resume. If I compete again it will be for their Miss Manhattan title.
I competed for Miss New York USA because I am proud of myself. I am proud of my body. I am proud that I am recovering from sexual assault well. I am proud that I have a career. I walked away from this weekend realizing that I am a winner, because unlike most the girls I have an incredible life waiting on me. My title for the weekend was Miss Wall Street which said it all. I am blessed beyond reason. I love my life, I love my family and friends, and most importantly I love myself just the way I am.