Everytime I tell someone I do pageants I get this ‘trying to be polite, but not working’ look of confusion. “So like, toddlers and tiaras right?” *Inner monologue “NO NO NO NO NO 100X NO* Well no, let me be the first to tell you that not all pageantry is like Toddlers and Tiaras and certainly not every pageant girl is like the girls who fumble onstage and talk about ‘the Iraq.’ By the way, on stage questions are one of the hardest things I have ever done, so I probably would have been just as nervous as she was, as would you, so give her a break. *End rant* There are so many positive aspects of pageantry that are life changing for the young women who compete in them.
I began participating in pageants at 15 years old and if I could paint a picture of who ‘Katlynn Kennedy’ was at 15, she would be a lost, insecure, incredibly fashion challenged, teenage girl with no direction or goals. A friend of mine had been participating in pageants for years and suggested maybe I try one. “Well alright, but there is no way that I could ever win one of those. I am so not a pageant girl.” Well, I was wrong and was honored to win the title I competed for.
The moment that crown was placed on my head my life was forever changed. There are so many stigmas and stereotypes about pageantry and I am fed up with getting the look of ‘are you serious?’ when I tell people I compete in pageants. Over the years of competing and holding titles I have had highs and lows, I have learned how to lose and win, I have gained valuable skills that I will use for the rest of my life, and I have become a better and more confident Katlynn Kennedy.
Every time I enter a pageant I spend months preparing for it and my life becomes pageant prep. Pageant girls have to dedicate their free time to educating themselves on current social and political issues to prepare to stand before a panel of highly accomplished judges while they ask you questions for 10 minutes on anything their hearts desire. We spend our mornings reading a newspaper (or four) and watching the news at all hours of the day.
We have to work out every day and eat healthy, minus the occasional cheat day, to prepare for the swimsuit competition, which is no small challenge. Walking on stage in three-inch heels and a swimsuit is the most terrifying thing ever, but it is also the most exhilarating. You can find us in school, at fundraisers, in your community spending time working with service organizations and advocating for issues that are close to our hearts. Our feet are bleeding, fingers blistered, and vocal cords tired from practicing our talents until we could do it in our sleep backwards and forwards.
Yes, this is a lot of work and it takes over your life but I wouldn’t give it up for the world and I wouldn’t be who I am without it. Pageants have taught me not to give up when I am tired. They have taught me that when one door closes another one open. They have taught me that you never stop learning and that one never gets poor by giving. They have taught me to be the only person who can tell me my self-worth.
Pageants have prepared me to be a successful and empowered woman in a society where women are the underdog. I could honestly go on forever, but I think I can speak for all pageant girls here and say next time you meet someone who participates in pageants, instead of judging them know that crowns aren't made of rhinestones, they are made of discipline, determination and a hard to find alloy called courage.