Underclassmen participate in local, national pageants

Isha PAtel, Staff writer

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Glitz and glamor, gowns and crowns make up the stereotypical idea of beauty pageants. Freshman Madeline Garcia has participated in pageants for the past four or five years, when she said she decided to join after receiving a letter in the mail.

Currently, Madeline is representing the title of Miss KS Junior High School America with other past titles including Miss KS PreTeen, National Cover Model and a Photogenic title.

Madeline said most beauty pageants have about five age categories from 5 year olds to college age.

“A lot of them are just really around your age group but [in] the bigger [pageants], you’re competing against a wider range of girls,” Madeline said.

Madeline said she has participated in past competitions involving a talent round rather than fashion. She said she has been dancing for the past six years, which is her talent in the competitions.

“When you enter the competition, it’s about five minutes, you approach the judges personally and nobody is allowed in the room,” Madeline said. “Then, there is an onstage portion, in some of them there is athletic wear or swimsuit portions, but the ones I do, there is gown which is your stage presence — how graceful you are walking on stage.”

Much like Madeline, sophomore Rachel Hammons has been involved in pageants since the age of 7, and said not all of the stereotypes are true.

“[A] common misconception about pageants is that it’s all around beauty, but it’s really not,” Hammons said. “It’s more about how you’re doing in school [and] how you’re helping your community.”

After being introduced to the gig by a family friend, Hammons said she fell in love.

“I just had a lot of fun with them and it helped me grow my self confidence and I got to meet a bunch of new people,” Hammons said. “My favorite part is talking to people — learning their stories — and just the volunteer service aspect of it.”

Hammons said she volunteers with the Lend It Heart Organization that deals with human trafficking. Hammons said she has earned the titles of Miss KS Tween, Junior Teen, KS Junior High and  KS High School. She currently holds the title of International Junior Miss KS Junior Teen.

“As a titleholder they really care about your volunteer service and what you’re doing, so a lot of times you figure out your platform and what volunteer service you want to work with so you [help out a lot] in your community,” Hammons said.

Madeline said since the rules state that she is not allowed to compete in other pageants when already representing a title, she likes to help out with the local pageants like Miss Johnson County, Miss Merry Christmas and Miss Summer in addition to the volunteer work she already does. She said pageants have helped her come out of her shell.

“Before pageants, I was really shy like the person who would hide behind their parents or not talk to anybody,” Madeline said. “Now if you know me, I’m not like that anymore.”

Madeline’s sister, junior Megan Garcia, said she thinks pageants are a good experience, but can induce added stress.

“If you have a little money to spare and are looking for that confidence boost and wanting to learn how to be a more polished person, [then it is good],” Megan said. “But it does put a lot of stress on you as a person at a young age, so it’s hard to decide whether it’s good or not.”

Megan said she has seen the change in the process of how different pageants run ever since her sister started competing.

“She started with Miss National American Miss — it’s a pretty fairly large pageant system and a natural pageant,” Megan said. “It’s all about your natural beauty and your personal skills — that was the first one she ever competed in and placed in the top 10.”

Furthermore, Megan said Madeline received a National Cover Model award allowing her and her family to travel nationally for the first time to Anaheim, California, to compete, where the pageant there was a also a natural, no makeup pageant. However, Megan said the pageant in Little Rock, Arkansas, was an opposite experience.

“The girls weren’t being judged for how well they interviewed or how well they present themselves, they were being judged for looks and such,” Megan said.

However, Madeline said stereotypes should not limit others from participating in pageants.

“There isn’t a kind of ‘pageant girl’ — you don’t have to be a pageant girl to compete in pageants,” Madeline said. “Anybody can compete in them. You can be any kind of person — you can have any body shape — you are not judged for being different, you are actually encouraged. I think a lot of people think you have to be tall, you have to be skinny — like a supermodel — but really, they’re looking for a natural, all-American girl — they are not looking for the next top model of the United States.”


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