One of the more interesting things I have heard oft repeated during my pageant journey is, “I don’t agree with pageants.”

It’s an interesting statement and in truth, I can’t help but wonder if I have personally said it in the past as well. In reality, a month ago (you know? about the time I applied as a contestant?) I was really hung up on the fact that Miss BC is not a beauty pageant. As soon as I heard the phrase, “I don’t agree with pageants,” as quick as a whip, I’d counter with, “This one isn’t a beauty pageant.” But now, a month into learning what it takes to be in a pageant, I can’t help but think, “So what if it were?”

I mean, I get it. In a beauty pageant, there’s a whole lot of celebration over the face God gave you. In a personal development and leadership pageant like Miss BC, the focus is on the confidence you bring to the pageant. So yes, there is a considerable difference in value. (I can work on my projected image but my asymmetric bad-teethed double-chinned face is just what I have to work with.) And yet, in spite of this difference, pageant preparation is nothing for lightweights. In fact, in a beauty pageant, you don’t get to just show up and dazzle ’em with your smile. If anything, the work to be done is even greater because one of the judgment categories is the physical perfection you have achieved in your training.

So you don’t agree with pageants. If you’re reading this statement and nodding silently, let me ask you this: when is the last time you strove for personal excellence and then put yourself on the line to be judged on it? If you are a competitive athlete or a lawyer or engage in some sort of activity where you will very clearly see a win or a lose outcome, then you are already engaged in something very much like pageantry. Oh sure, you can argue that a lawyer has to find the legal position and let the facts tell the story, but if you think a case is entirely made in the research then you have missed the presentation. If presentation weren’t everything, then case lawyers would just submit a bullet point form of the facts to the judge and wait for a response.

It’s the same for competitive athletes. They don’t hit the drive through on their way to the Olympics and order a triple cheeseburger knowing their natural talent will carry them to the gold. They train. They sacrifice. They learn how to take a microsecond off their time by changing the length of their stride. And that microsecond changes the world by setting new records.

It doesn’t matter if you agree with pageants or not. Very much like I don’t agree with drinking “sweetener” in my coffee, people will see the benefit and do it anyway.

But here’s the real issue for me when you say, “I don’t agree with pageants.” It shows a lack of curiosity. That’s what I find so difficult. Without any information or knowledge about what a pageant is or what it represents, it’s dismissed. I have no problem with people who understand pageantry and don’t like it. I have loads of problems with prejudice over things they have no knowledge about and seem to have no interest in gaining knowledge about. I mean, don’t get me wrong, it’s not my place to educate the world on anything. But when someone stands in front of me and dismisses something I’m doing without having the courtesy to be curious, it shuts down any further conversation we might have.

Because, here’s the thing, I’m loving this journey. And win or lose, I will be able to say that age the age of 48, I entered my first pageant.

And I did it because I finally had the confidence to be there.

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