What Have I Gotten In To?
I have vivid memories of begging my parents to let me stay up and watch the end of the Miss America Pageant as a kid. Every year I rooted for Miss Kentucky and had dreams of wearing the crown myself one day. I assume most little girls share this fantasy along with one of marrying a prince and living happily ever after. But I never did compete in any beauty pageants and really I have no regrets, especially after watching a few episodes of Toddlers And Tiaras. Having seen a glimpse of that world, it is certainly not one I want any part of, nor do I want my kids exposed to it.
But Anna is a typical girl and the more sparkles something has the better. For years she has asked about being in a pageant and for years I have said no way. But recently she and I had a heart to heart after she was feeling a little down in the dumps. It was the next day that I received a letter from NAM (National America Miss) Pageant. They couldn't have timed their delivery any better. Normally I wouldn't have opened the envelope and it would have been recycled, but this particular day I was curious and read the mail.
I have to admit, they said all the right things. This is a pageant where they focus on building self confidence vs. tearing it down. They want girls to look like girls vs. women so they have a no makeup for girls under 12 policy. There is not a swim suit or talent competition. They focus more on personality, speech and presentation. For whatever reason, it spoke to me and I thought this might be exactly what Anna needs to boost her spirits.
She has been super excited about it all (what little girl wouldn't?). We went to the open call to learn more. I had no idea what to expect or what something like this would cost (I had the impression some people spend a fortune on this stuff, and I can't do that). Anna knew going in that we were just checking it out, and that it may be out of our price range. But I have to hand it to these people, they make it reasonable to enter, they make several other competitions optional for an additional fee and once you buy the dress, interview suite, shoes and other accessories, plus the hotel stay as the state competition is out of town, you are looking at the cost of a small vacation or a year or two of dancing lessons (which she never took so I call us even).
At the call back, she had to dress as if she were going to a job interview (we just pulled something nice out of her closet and I did have to get her some new shoes - she was due anyway). She was asked a few simple questions, we watched a presentation and low and behold, she "was selected" to be a state finalist. Now they said they don't take everyone, but we sort of doubt it. They also say you don't need a coach which I hope is true because we are not investing in one. I am hoping Anna has fun, maybe meets some other girls and learns some skills. That's it. I do not intent for her to make any money or make the national competition, but she will have an experience and can say she was in a pageant once.
Next week she goes to a training session hosted by NAM to learn how to walk, use a microphone, what makes for a good interview question response and how to introduce yourself. I will be going and taking notes so she can work on these skills this summer. I do want her to be prepared so she has confidence on stage but I vow to not be a stage mom. The only thing worse than a soccer mom is a stage mom. (I will not be a stage mom. I will not be a stage mom. I will not be....)
So anyway, we are giving this thing a whirl. I will keep you all posted on how everything goes. After Anna had already fallen head over heals in love with the idea, I googled it and of course found controversy with this particular pageant. It seemed pretty evenly weighted on both sides of the argument so I decided to stay in but I will do my best to give it a fair review and share our experiences so should your daughter beg you, you will have some info to help guide your decision.