Pageants. When you hear that word, you might think of a lineup of super skinny, empty-headed girls curling their hair and jabbering about makeup.
Or, if you've ever actually been to a pageant or competed in one, you'll know that it's not like that at all. Pageant girls are smart, have real bodies and have the poise it takes to get to where they are. And yes, as a matter of fact, we do curl our hair to perfection, love our mascaras and eyeshadows, and rock those sparkly dresses.
I recently represented Weber County in the Miss Utah USA pageant's teen division, and I can honestly say it was one of the greatest experiences I've ever had. Some of the girls I met there will probably be friends for life, and it taught me that being confident and having self-esteem is the most important thing to any girl. I made the top 15, which is pretty good for someone who has never done a pageant before.
Preparing for the pageant took time and effort. I ran every weekday for half an hour or longer, and I tried to resist sugar. Even though I caved in a couple of times for brownies and ice cream and chocolate, I like to think I did pretty well. Another thing that was hard for me was fundraising. I've never liked asking people for money, but when you have a $1,000-plus entry fee, it's a necessity. Without support from my family, I don't think I could've done it.
For the competition, there were three nerve-wracking parts every girl had to compete in. For swimsuit and evening gown, we walked the stage, posed and let the judges pick and choose. Interview was a 30-second conversation with each of the five judges.
Swimsuit was my favorite part because I love the pattern of my swimsuit and I'd practiced with my heels for weeks. The choreographed opening number was so much fun too; we danced to "More" by Usher. Another thing I loved was the gala before any of the competition started, where we got to know all the girls and I sang karaoke with my friends.
The preliminary competition was Oct. 21 at the Browning Center at Weber State University, and the finals were Oct. 22. Keilara McCormick, representing North Utah County and one of the sweetest girls ever, won the teen division and Kendyl Bell from Draper won the Miss category.
If I was given the chance to do the pageant again, I would absolutely love to. It was so much fun, the people were amazing, and I learned so much.
Kaylee Gifford, Miss Roy Teen and a sophomore at Roy High, says, "This weekend is one I'll never forget! All of us girls bonded so much and I'm sad that it's already over. But for those two amazing ladies who won, I wish them the best of luck and it is only the beginning for them."
I'm going to miss those pageant girls so much; we all went through the same things to get to the Miss Teen Utah USA pageant, and that's a connection that's there forever. The biggest thing that came out of this for me is how much confidence I have now, no matter what I'm doing.
I'm not sure what it is, but I guess walking out on a stage in a bikini in front of an auditorium full of people just makes everything else pale in comparison.
Minna Wang is a junior at NUAMES. She loves to take pictures, go shopping and run. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.