Senior Rachel Berry

Photo by Stephanie Zhang

When did you first start doing pageants?

I started doing pageants a year ago, September 2014

What pageants have you competed in?

I have competed in five pageants (six by November): Miss Hoosier High was my first one, Miss Indianapolis, USA National Miss State and Nationals, Miss American Coed (MAC) State and Nationals in November.

What awards and/or honors have you won?

I am honored to say that I have the current titles of Miss Carmel High, Miss Teen Indianapolis, USA National Miss Indiana Teen and Miss Indiana American Teen. I have also won the community service/volunteer award at two pageants and also the personality award at MAC State.

What first got you interested in pageants?

When I was young I was really intrigued with the whole concept of wearing a pretty dress on stage and doing hair and makeup and everything that is shown on TV, when it comes to pageants. It was rare that I would miss the Miss America pageant or the Miss USA pageant!

Take me through a typical pageant. What are the steps leading up to it?

To be fully prepared for a pageant, takes 3 months, or more. You have to constantly go over questions, about yourself and about the world around you. You also have workout and eat right to make sure you look healthy on stage.

What are the stages of the competition?

A competition consists of usually three or four different areas. One is the interview, which is where the judge(s) truly find out who you are. Another is evening wear and on-stage question. Those two go hand-in-hand. Swimsuit is another part which is where the judges see how well you take care of your body, not how skinny you are.

What is the best part about being involved in pageants?

The best thing about being involved in pageants is definitely meeting all of the amazing girls who are also involved. I have met some of my best friends through these competitions and through the events that I have volunteered at through my titles.

What preparation goes into competing in pageants?

Preparation is the key to having a successful pageant experience. Like I said earlier, it takes a minimum of 3 months to be fully prepared. This means working out every day, eating healthy, going over interview questions and onstage questions, walking in your competition heels, getting new dresses, and most importantly building your confidence and your communication skills.

Photo by Stephanie Zhang

What skills are necessary for being successful in pageants?

I believe your communication skills are the main way to being successful in pageants. Just being able to talk to others, and answer questions on the spot.

Do you think pageants are more than just “skin deep?”

I do think pageants are way more than just “skin deep.” Pageants have helped me grow my everyday confidence and how I present myself. They have helped me see who I really am, what I believe in and how I see beauty.

Are pageants overly concerned with outward beauty or is it more than that?

It is definitely more than just outward beauty. Yes, beauty does play a role in the competition, but it is nothing compared to how you truly present yourself. During interview, the judges are looking at your inner beauty, and how you are involved in your community.

What components of pageants show how these competitions are more than just skin deep?

Interview and how you interact with the other pageant girls shows how they are more than just “skin deep”.

What have you learned from doing pageants?

I have learned so much from being involved in pageants. I have learned how to communicate with others which will help me out in the future when it comes to jobs and other events. I have also learned how to present myself in public appearances, and I have also learned how to truly love who you are and not try to be someone else.

When you tell people that you are involved in pageants, do you think they realize exactly how much goes into it besides superficial beauty?

When I tell people that I am involved in pageants, I have received many different responses. I have had some that think that it is so cool and others who judge right when I say the word “pageants.” To me, I am involved in a scholarship pageant, not a beauty pageant. I have earned a lot of college scholarship money from all my experiences, which is another one of the main reasons I am involved in them.

Why do you think there is some stigma against pageants?

I think there is some stigma against pageants because people only see the beauty aspect of them. When watching the competitions on TV, viewers only see how the girls look and how they present themselves in front of the camera, which can often seem very fake and unintelligent. I think people also see the fake side of the pageant world, also known as the famous “Honey Boo Boo.” There are pageants like that, but those are called glitz pageants, not beauty pageants, and are for young girls, which I am totally against.

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About the Author

Christine Fernando