Crowns, dresses, titles

Jordan Smith, Feature Writer

    You’re heart is pounding  out of your chest and blood flowing to your six inch heels. Your face is aching from smiling for hours and anxiety is gripping at your veins. Suddenly you hear your name and all the stress, the blood sweat and tears that you shed finally pays off.

    That fascinating experience for senior Jaylah Jones started for her in sixth grade.

    “Well when I was in sixth grade, a lady named Yvette Barnes, who is current my coach now, saw something in me and thought that with my personality, I would do excellent in a pageant called National American Miss,” Jones said. “My first year I got first runner up in Miss Personality and first in Volunteer Service. After that, I knew I wanted to be a pageant girl for life.”

   Jones currently holds the title of the 2016 National American Miss Miss Illinois Teen.

    “When I heard my name on stage, my mouth literally dropped. My heart was beating so fast and it felt like time slowed down for a little bit,” Jones said. “I looked at the remaining girls next to me to make sure my name was called. After seeing my mom, sister, pageant coach Mrs. Barnes, and Brianna Lewis,who is like a little sister to me, jumping and cheering for me, I knew it was true.”

   Her pageant coach, Yvette Barnes,  has been along her side since 2011 and views Jones as a wonderful young lady.

   “She is confident and coachable, which means she listens and is not afraid,” Barnes said.  When she is on stage, I can tell she is using what I’ve taught her. She is also hilarious, so there is never a dull session.”

   Barnes also views Jones as someone with a good work ethic and genuinely a nice person.

    “I would describe her as joyful, determined, and confident. She is fun to work with because she has such a positive attitude,” Barnes said.

    The typical pageant process takes three days. Throughout the three days, the participants get to meet their fellow contestants and queens and gather information about the pageants. The participants also get to choose if they would like to be in  optional events such as modeling, photogenic and talent.

    “You get to exciting mini competitions like modeling, which is my favorite, spokesmodel, talent, top model, and actress,” Jones said.

   On the final day, it is is all about formal wear and interviews. The anxiety of who won is released on the final night.

   Jones believes that the experience is life changing and that it is something that other girls should participate in.

    “I would definitely tell others to do pageants because there are many benefits,” Jones said. “You get to showcase a platform or create something to bring awareness to a passion of yours. It gives you confidence and skills that you will use later on in life.”

    Her goal is to be Miss Illinois Teen, Miss Illinois, Miss USA, and eventually Miss Universe.Although she strives for greatness, her heart isn’t focused on the awards that she receives.

   “Doing National American Miss (NAM)  has taught me to be myself and showcase my personality and passion with others,” Jones said.

    With a heart overflowing with love with passion for her community, she spends her day caring about what matters to her.

    “It’s not always about the crowns, the dresses, and the titles, “ Jones said. “Pageantry truly keeps young women to be inspired to be the best you can be.”