The Real Beauty of Beauty Pageants
If you have been a fan or critic of the legendary beauty pageants circuit, you may wonder how they will operate and flow as the world we live in today seems ever-changing and to some quite simply, shocking. In a world where society used to have a “norm”, we are undeniably far from anything defining or similar to that definition. “Norm” is most certainly an outdated perception; it seems as though lines have been blurred, erased, and rewritten in a new manner. The new “expected” way of thinking is anything but “normal”!
Some may wonder how traditional beauty pageants are going to operate. Will this popular system survive the ever-changing views coupled with increased opinions? It is really up for debate, as equality is continually challenged by many along with current growth in awareness of gender roles changing. Plus, who can really define what “beauty” is aftercall? There is the infamous saying that, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”. The truth is certainly clear. The pressure to know who you are and display that strength is needed more than ever.
A Brief History of Beauty Pageants
Traditionally audiences tuned in with amazement. Loving to be a part of the magical moment of the stage, seemingly entertained by the beauty of it all. As far as I can remember, I too was awestruck with the beauty, elegance, poise, glamour, and fashion of the pageantry world. Watching such talent and grace seemed a fairy tale in comparison. These women appeared angelic, similar to greatly adored celebrities that were untouchable. Traditionally televised, these contests created a larger than life image. Their perfect hair, glowing smiles, along with the svelte suits and gowns appeared magical with the elegance and dazzle. It is always a real show and treat to watch such beauty and talent before our eyes.
The first beauty contest in America was in 1880. A fun fact, the inventor Thomas Edison was one of the first judges. Since this time, the trail of beauty pageants has not fallen short in any size. Many beauty pageants we see are of young women ranging from 18 to upper 20’s for the Miss division. With time and evolvement, they have expanded to include married women and older and otherwise single women. Divisions include Mrs. and Miss. Judges assess multiple topics, one being a stage performance. Always captivating the audience with various styles of visual art. The older division competition, however, does not include a stage talent.
Inner & Outer Beauty
For the younger competition and divisions, these women showcase not only physical beauty, but also demonstrated real dedication to talent development, along with embracing commitment. This deemed highly important to the judges. It surely does speak of great discipline and dedication to be able to divide your time and excel in many areas of life. Including academics and family life.
It is not only this talent portion that is of great significance. The judge’s interview, typically held off stage, holds great weight in the overall score. These women are not “rated” on their beauty, that is just a bonus. However, what they are representing and who they are at the core is also of great worth. The judges most definitely have a hard role to play as they meet great women with principles and skill who are bringing their best to these competitions. Not only was I a titleholder in 2012, but I too was invited to participate in the 2014 contest for the judging panel. It was such an honor to be a part of this process. I was blown away at how many amazing women there are in just one community.
An Insiders View
Being a pageant titleholder myself, I am happy to share my experience firsthand. I was very pleased with the comradery and sisterhood that I felt at the state pageant level along with the National level. Naturally, there is a hint of competition in the air, as expected with many beautiful women altogether, ultimately competing against one another. However, many including myself chose to see it differently, the real beauty of these pageants is the hearts of these contestants. Most are leaders and want to make a difference while using their platform. To this day I see these same sisters supporting and rallying around good causes, uplifting others, and being strong leaders in their high-quality endeavors.
While personally being crowned, I was able to be involved in many wonderful causes and help support and shine light on some of the most important matters that face us all as human beings. It is our responsibility and privilege to uplift, support, and encourage each other. Through community support and efforts, I showed my level of expertise while being uplifted and taught by members of the society as well.
It is truly inspiring to see women like Serene Singh, a Sikh and South Asian 23-year-old from Colorado Springs, Colorado. A Rhodes Scholar at the University of Oxford pursuing a Doctoral degree in Criminology, Serene Singh won the 2020-2021 National All-American Miss title and placed TOP 10 for Miss World America 2020, the world’s largest and oldest pageant competition. Singh is also a former America’s Junior Miss as well as Miss Colorado Teen. She is a wonderful example of consistency, dedication, and strength as she follows a path of uttermost leadership.
More to Love:
A True Beauty Queen
Beauty comes in many forms. Cultivating a beautiful heart and blessing those around you with love, charity and consideration is what really makes a true beauty queen.
What will define our society today? It is my opinion that knowing who you are and what you stand for is far more valuable than what others choose to see. It is this knowing and valiancy that will make you stand out far above the rest indeed. The legacy of beauty pageants will continue to move forward, it may slightly evolve, as it should. But I know I am not alone in the hope that those beautiful faces also embody a more beautiful heart dedicated to good, building a healthy impact for all mankind, and forward-focused growth.
Words by Lisa Anderson (Sonnenberg). Former Mrs. Illinois, America 2012
Feature Image: Miss World America State Crowns 2019