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Why I Chose National American Miss Pageant

The plot twist that made me Anti-child pageant to pageant mom

By Hope MartinPublished 12 months ago 6 min read
The Tennessee finalists had top 12 girls

As a child, I was accepted into a modeling school and agency, as well as a beauty pageant. This was back in the early 90's. So, basically a long time ago. According to my mother, I hated it. When I hit puberty, I developed an endocrine imbalance. We all know when a woman has this issue, one of the most common side-effects is weight gain. For most of my teenage and young adult life, I was ostracized and criticized by people and doctors for being fat. My first husband even berated me for it in a very long, very emotionally abusive relationship. Beauty pageants just weren't my thing, after I got too 'fat' and no one who was anyone wanted anything to do with me.

Growing up, I had stereotyped the pageant scene. Especially pageant mothers. I am ashamed to admit, I was extremely human for a long time, and I had a very ugly assumption of beauty pageants. Especially beauty pageants for kids. I have seen pictures of little girls who have curved bodies of grown women shaped by bodices, and their makeup is way too mature for them. Pedo-bait, in my opinion. I have heard horror stories of pageant monster moms, who are hard and disparaging to their daughters. I never dreamed I would put my daughter into the pageant scene. In fact, the thought made me sick. Children should get to look and act like children.

Then along came this year, and my daughter was invited to an open call for National American Miss. We got a letter in the mail, with my daughter's name. There was a free open-call orientation, where I could learn about National American Miss. All I knew at this point, is that it was a beauty pageant. I decided, after talking about it with my mate, that we could at least go to the open call. It was free to go to, and heck, it would be a good opportunity for some one-on-one time with her (we feel it's important all the kids get special time with us on their own. I personally feel it will help as they get older with the sibling rivalry thing).

We went to the open call, and one of the first things we learned from Matt Leverton - the director of 8 of the midwest/south states for this particular pageant was that he built this contest to be different. He wasn't making a beauty pageant. He was creating an opportunity to bring brilliant young girls and women to the limelight and give them a chance to shine, feel beautiful, boost their confidence, make friends, and most of all, teach them everyday life skills that they would need to learn one day. In fact, none of the scoring competitions that help qualify for the crown has anything to do with looks.

There are three required contests for all competitors of every age division: the community service competition, the personal introduction, and the interview portion where the young girls will be interviewed by 6 different judges. Another thing that Mr. Leverton said was: "We are here to make connections, to applaud our daughters, to make friends, and to teach these young women that they are special, and perfect just the way they are. And that they can do anything."

I may have gotten a little emotional because the next thing that he did was show us a video of parents and girls talking about NAM, and why they loved it. I saw in the video I watched girls real girls getting to be part of this community he was talking about. These looked like girls that were real. Girls with braces. Girls that were thick. Girls with glasses. Girls of every color and size. And I was impressed. My daughter is beautiful, with perfect natural curls and a petite body that requires no work, and she's got legs for days. One look at my four-year-old and most people are smitten - especially if she graces them with a smile.

Too bad they don't get to see the spicy side of her. I swear that girl is an angel out in public, but she is a habanero pepper. But I was convinced she was made for pageant life when we arrived at the open call. She immediately began doing the catwalk to the music, and posing like the 'pretty princesses' on the screen when we walked into that hotel ballroom where the open call was being held. There were older girls and parents in the room, and I noticed the ones who smiled at her were the ones at the State competition.

I was sold on one other detail. Mr. Leverton gave us his spiel - how long he had been doing this, why he had done it, and how long some of his staff had been working for them. Typical rapport-building stuff at first. Then he got into talking about the girls. How every girl was perfect, and a queen, no matter if she won a crown or not. How he strives to teach them things they will need to be successful in life - public speaking, poise and kindness, community, and why helping others is important.

He then began talking about the rules of the competition and how it was judged. The optional contests that the contestants will do. But then he very sternly began telling us the things that are not allowed in the contest: competitors under the age of 13 were not allowed to wear makeup. He said and I quote:

"Kids should look like kids. I don't believe that children should be made to look like adults. Speaking of which, we do not and will not ever have a bathing suit contest for any of our age divisions. There is absolutely nothing uplifting about a young woman or girl being told to get on stage in front of people in high heels and a bikini. She is not an object to be sexualized or objectified. And this is not about how good a young lady looks in a bathing suit. This is about building lasting bonds, and friendships, and giving these girls a chance to shine and feel confident. This is about raising them up, and applauding them while they shine!"

I'm not going to lie. I may have cried a little bit when he said. And more than anything, if my beautiful daughter was going to participate in something like a pageant, I wanted it to be this one. I wanted this to be the experience that I never got as a child. I wanted my kid to participate in this pageant that lets girls with glasses and braces, and thick curvy girls to participate. I wanted my kid to get to participate in something that shows that everyone is beautiful - and beauty is deeper than skin.

Because I was criticized so much for being fat by people who were blessed with bodies that didn't have hormone imbalances, I developed a severe complex. And I almost always immediately feel insecure next to beautiful women with beach bodies. And that isn't something I want to teach my children. I want my children to grow up, and stand next to other beautiful people, and feel perfectly at ease because they know they are beautiful too. I want my children to look at other human beings and only know kindness and confidence.

I will be posting soon about our experience at State Finals, where my daughter won 4th runner-up for the NAM Tennessee Princess Queen and first place in casual modeling. We qualify for Nationals, and I intend to let her continue to participate in NAM as long as she enjoys it, as well as getting our younger daughter into it when she's old enough.

Oh hey, remember how I said we got a letter in the mail? It turns out that someone referred us. So if you have a beautiful daughter you'd like to refer to the National American Miss Pageant, click on this link, and if you don't mind, could you put in the additional information that Aylaina Sky Martin referred you? Thanks so much!

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About the Creator

Hope Martin

Find my fictional fantasy book "Memoirs of the In-Between" on Amazon in paperback, eBook, and hardback.

You can also find it in the Apple Store or on the Campfire Reading app.

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    Hope MartinWritten by Hope Martin

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