Aren't pageants just contests for conceited girls to prove how beautiful they are?


It makes me unhappy when I hear snide remarks about pageants just being “beauty contests” because they are usually so much more.  Yes, there are a few contests that have their main focus on beauty but even these contests can teach young women valuable skills.  This article will center on scholarship type of pageants that encourage personal development over beauty contests.

Scholarship PageantCredit:

Here are few key reasons why a young woman will enter a scholarship pageant:

1. Scholarships – A contestant can earn thousands of dollars towards her college tuition.  Most contests will offer some form of a scholarship to the winners and even the participants.  The Distinguished Young Woman program formerly called the America’s Junior Miss provides close to $60 million worth of scholarships nationwide to high school participants who participate in the program each year.  This program focuses on academics, talent, physical fitness, and good interview and public speaking skills and is only available to young women who are in the 11th grade.  In 2010 the Miss America program made available over $45 million in scholarships on the local, state and national levels and the winner receives $50,000!  This is only a couple of the pageant opportunities that are available.  A wonderful example of a contestant who used her scholarship winning well is Kaye Lani Rae Rafko, a young woman from the small town of Monroe, Michigan.  She entered a Miss America local competition to earn scholarship money to pay for nursing school. She went onto to win the title of Miss America 1988. Kaye Lani used the scholarship money she earned as Miss America to pursue an advanced degree and fulfill her dream of opening a hospice for the terminally ill in her hometown.

2. Improve Talents – Many pageants require the contestants to perform an on-stage talent so most young women have the opportunity to develop and build on their talents.  Generally these talents will focus on the fine arts such as music and dance.  These talents will range from classical violin to en pointe ballet.  Many will use a pageant as a springboard to a career in field related to their talent such as acting. 

3. Self Confidence – Very seldom do you really find the self-centered, egotistical young woman that is often portrayed as beauty queens in the movies.  Try modeling in a gown or swimsuit in front of an audience of people!  It takes an enormous amount of courage and self-confidence to do it.  Many of the critics of pageants would be quaking in their boots if they had to do what these young women do while smiling!  They are faced with many situations while competing and while holding a title that requires them to speak and act confidently.  Pageants that encourage poise and good grooming teach contestants skills to young women who are often just entering womanhood and are unsure how to use make up and do their hair.  Classes and workshops are offered at many of these contests just to teach these skills. 

4. Life Skills – Many of the skills they develop while preparing for a contest are skills they will use for the rest of their lives.  Learning how to interview in front of a panel of judges will benefit them whenever they will be interviewed in their professional lives such as job applications.  Public speaking is an ability that is always useful as they learn to answer impromptu questions with knowledge. A pageant contestant also learns how to handle stressful situations, how to function well with little sleep and how to behave properly under all conditions.  They learn how to make dedicate their lives to accomplishing goals they have set and how to achieve them.

5. Make Friends – Contrary to popular belief, many of these young women make friends for life with the other contestants. They find themselves studying together, encouraging each other and even crying when a good friend doesn’t win.  Some have been known to take clothes off of their own racks to loan to another contestant when a mishap befalls a rival in the same contest. 

6. Knowledge – Most of these girls could easily debate current event issues with anyone and guaranteed they all know who the Vice President of the United States is!  It has been proved that a very low percentage of college students even know his name.  Pageant contestants will study current events and world news diligently to prepare for a contest.  They are very intelligent and well spoken and this helps them when they are attending college or finding employment.

7. Social Cause – Most pageants require the contestants to develop a platform on a social cause of interest to her.  Because of this, they perform much needed community service and bring much needed attention to social issues that are facing the world today.  This is typically where the phrase, “World Peace” got started because it was a social cause that many pageant queens would use during wartime.  Now they focus on eating disorders, homelessness, abuse, and other personal issues that touch home for them.  This is also a great way they are able to give something worthwhile back to their community for the gifts and scholarships they receive.  Many pageant queens will use their platforms as a career choice. In 2000, state and local contestants in the Miss America program alone collectively participated in 12,384 community-service projects, dedicating a total of 571,177 hours and raising millions of dollars for worthy causes.  This is only one of hundreds of contests that encourage community involvement.

7. Open Doors – Many find new career paths and opportunities open up to them because of the exposure they receive when representing their title.  Queens will often receive job offers from the sponsors of the pageants.  They also get great exposure for other opportunities in communication careers such as Gretchen Carlson, Miss America 1989, who is now a famous news anchor on Fox and Friends, a morning new show on Fox News. 

8. Prizes and Gifts – Most pageants present the contestants and winners some very handsome gifts donated by major sponsors.  These gifts can include cash awards, jewelry, clothing, travel and many other products that are typically sponsored and donated by local and national companies. 

When you consider all of these benefits, is it any wonder that thousands of young women participate yearly in the pageant world?