Beauty is only skin deep

Beauty pageant contestants endure huge challenges with every contest

By Mary Elizabeth Fair |

In February of 2006, I chose to participate in a preliminary pageant for Miss Mississippi.
I had taken part in pageants before but this particular pageant took more of my time and effort than all the others.

My reasons for choosing to participate were partially influenced by the scholarship money which was being offered, but I was mainly motivated by the fact that I wanted to challenge myself.

I didn’t realize then what an impact that decision would have on me.

The preparation for my pageant began several months before the event actually occurred. My first week into training, I was immediately told by my pageant coach that I needed to lose weight.

According to my pageant coach, if I wanted to win, my ideal dress size should be at most a size 2 or 4. I was faced with a “weight issue” that I was never too concerned with before.

After the problem was addressed, I was thrown into a lifestyle of practicing the “perfect” pageant walk, learning how to sing in public and running through interview questions.

For three months of my life, I spent countless hours putting all my time and energy into this one event that would last less than an hour.

My coach said I had to “live and breathe” the pageant life.

Anxiety became my closest friend for those three months. I was so worried that I was not going to be good enough, that I was not going to be perfect.

Was something like a pageant really worth all the time, work, and stress that I faced?

In some ways it was because I was able to achieve goals I never thought I could reach, like singing in front of a large audience. For the most part, though, I think the pageant disintegrated all of the positive feelings I ever had about my body image.

I think that pageants do encourage women to be the best they can be, but at too high of a cost. There is fine line between being the best you can be and being perfect.

I think that too often women, who participate in pageants, tend to seek the unachievable perfect image that society portrays rather than trying to be the best they can be for their own personal satisfaction.

I believe that there is too much emphasis on body image within pageants. Not everyone is created the same, and I think if pageants focused more on the beauty of individualism rather than conforming to a perfect image of beauty, the pageantry lifestyle would still be a successful industry.

Many people oppose pageants because they feel too much emphasis is placed on physical appearance.
Critics argue that by parading women down a runway and judging them is simply objectifying. Women’s rights advocates feel that pageants make it harder to gain the same respect and rights as men.

However, pageants benefit contestants significantly through scholarships, but unless the contestant wins the pageant, the scholarships barely cover the cost for preparation.

A positive aspect of pageants is that it allows women to challenge themselves, just as it did for me.
I was challenged to better myself and I achieved my goal. I would just like to see it be a less stressful and pressured challenge.

With so much pressure it’s easy for a contestant to forget why she is bettering herself. It should be for her personal benefit not for others.

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