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Living behind the crown

Brianna Lewis, Op-Ed Writer

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Pageant girls are often seen as snobs who are all about looks and shiny things.
But my world, as a pageant girl, is full of community service, comradery and sisterhoods.
At 16 years old, I’ve been competing in pageants for almost 12 years , and there are many misconceptions when it comes to how we handle our titles.
One: we usually don’t do it for the titles. Two: our programs are not made to brainwash little girls into disliking their natural selves. Three: we are most likely at the forefront of some of the background of your community.
We have learned compassion from the fits of nervousness in the dressing room and rushing backstage to comfort someone who messed up their performance.
These are the times that competition turns into bonding moments and lifelong friendships.
Pageantry, for many competitors, is a lifestyle. Our practices and workouts are almost as strenuous as that of a high school athlete.
I grew up practicing introductions, smiles and “pretty feet” in my family’s old apartments before playing a card game with my brother.
As I got older, our card games turned into interview practices with mama and my play time into practice.
This is where I found the origins of pageant girl stigmas.
To us, spare time is a luxury. Between school, jobs, service, practice, clubs and sports, being chill teenagers is difficult.
At this point, I’ve aged into fitness portions of competition, which adds sore muscles to my list of post-practice rituals.
I hold an local Outstanding Teen title for the Miss America organization. We’re often confused with Miss USA and ridiculed for the former owner of a completely different program.
However, for both organizations, traveling and appearances take up a mass amount of time. Through these competitions, we network and meet new people.
Winning is just another way to get a louder voice. I think it’s fair to say people tend to be more inclined to listen to the girl with the crown.
When I was little, I looked up to the older girls with crowns, and they always told me if I worked hard enough, nothing could stop me.
I worked my butt off to get to a point where little girls look at me the same way, so I would be able to give them the same advice.
The plan for most of us queens is not to just look good, but to be stepping stones for the next generation of female leaders.
We have more to offer than just televised pageants. We have our own platforms and organizations to benefit our communities. Including pageants for girls who might feel overlooked in other programs.
Through competing, we’ve learned discipline, couth, responsibility and skills that will help us throughout life. Especially with jobs and school.
We learn to be confident in ourselves knowing not everyone is going to be in our corner.
Judges interviews prepare us for jobs; contestant resumes prepare us for college applications; on-stage competitions prepare you to face the criticism of the world around you.
There are many complications that come with this lifestyle. But in the end, it’s all worth it for the experiences, memories and life lessons.
Welcome to pageantry.

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Living behind the crown