My actual 30-day countdown doesn’t start until tomorrow, so until then I am going to write about something else I know a lot about: pageants! I just returned from Miss Universe in Vegas a few weeks ago, and Miss Texas USA was this past weekend Houston, so pageants have been on my mind a lot recently and it’s got me thinking about my personal experiences with them and how they have shaped the person I am today. Not necessarily going to talk about all the butt glue, boob pads and tricks of the trade, although I could write an entire book on that!
Here is my quick bio involving beauty pageants, or as quick as it can be. I did them a long time!
I started pageants at a young age because my mother and grandmother put me in them. I was so shy but over the years they really helped me become more outgoing and self-confident, even in my “ugly duckling-braces wearing” pre-teen years. The picture to the right is a fabulous example. I think I was about 11 or 12 and definitely looking a little awkward.
But before that, when I was about 3 or 4, I lifted my dress up during an onstage interview and told the emcee and the entire audience I had to potty. Not very becoming of a young lady but hey, when you gotta go you gotta go! Another time around the same age, my mom told me I better smile right before I went on stage. (in not so nice words haha) The emcee happened to ask me what was the last thing my mommy said to me? I smiled as big as I could and said, “She told me she loved me.” My mom later told me she almost passed out in the audience waiting for my response. I guess I had learned a few things about onstage interviewing! I am pretty sure it was the purple dress featured below that I lifted up. And you can just see the mischievous thoughts going through my head in the other picture! Who knows what was about to come out of my mouth!
Eventually I got involved with the Miss USA system and I at the age of 16 I won Miss Texas Teen USA in 1997 on my second attempt. That was pretty surprising to me because I think I placed in the bottom half of the 150 girls the year before! I went on to compete in Miss Teen USA 1997 and tied for 10th place going into the semi-finals, eventually putting me in 11th or 12th place I believe. Back then there wasn’t a top 15 like there is today. So technically I made the top 15 but just didn’t advance to the semi-finals because of the format. Why do I point this out? I don’t know if you knew this, but in Texas, pageantry is basically a religion! If you don’t advance at the national pageant you are torn to pieces as pageant road kill and forever known as the one who missed the cut. At that age I was exposed to such a level of disappointment that many of my peers had not experienced yet, but I think that made me much stronger and more mature. It only made me want to try harder! But overall my experience at Miss Teen USA was positive! I do remember some amusing stories though. I had a mini meltdown before our personal interviews because I couldn't talk to my mom or my interview coach. My roommate had talked to her boyfriend for hours and hours and ran our room telephone bill up, so they shut it off! I had my mom's cell phone, but this was 1997, so to use it out of our home area would cost $25, 475. I remember jacking myself up on sugar and running all over like a maniac to try and find a phone. I was so nervous and I didn't think I would make it out alive, but I did. Then after the live telecast there was a small group of "rebel girls" who wanted to go out and hit up the town of South Padre Island, TX. We had been under constant surveillance for 3 weeks and wanted to let loose! This little group was headed by none other than Ivanka Trump, who hosted the pageant. (this was the first year Donald Trump had taken over) Problem was we were all between the ages of 14-17 so there really wasn't much for us to do. I think we ended up making a Whataburger run, pigged out and kept the rest of the night pretty PG. At least that is how I remember it. ;)
|With Ivanka Trump at Miss Teen USA 1997|
|Competing in swimsuit at Miss Teen USA 1997|
So then that brings me to the next chapter of my pageant career. I think I hold a very interesting record in the Miss USA system…. the most attempts at a state title without winning. NINE!!!! My Wikipedia entry details pretty much all of them. I competed 9 times from the age of 17-26 in three different states and ended up first runner up my last attempt in Miss New York USA 2006. Tenacious much? Does this embarrass me? Absolutely not! When I competed I had this crazy laser focus on my training and it made me a better person in every aspect of my life. I was in the best physical shape and learned how to eat healthy. I wouldn't even eat one skittle off my diet! I did better in school, and after I graduated and started working it made me more productive there. I learned how to talk to pretty much anyone, how to interview for any job, how to really be a lady, how to be more compassionate and caring and how to handle yourself with grace in disappointing situations. The woman who just captured the Miss Texas USA crown did so on her 5th attempt. So if anything pageants definitely teach you the benefits of persevering. Even though I didn’t end up with the crown and a chance to go to Miss USA, it radically deepened my understanding of myself and I saw how hard I could work for something year after year. I also made many lifelong friends along the way!
It has been about 4 years since I last competed, and almost three years to the date that I did this interview. I hope to find something else I can feel so passionately about as I embark on this new challenge. I am going to put all my “pageant-like laser focus skills” into this blog and into finding out who I am at 30!