Sparkle, glamor, cookie-cutter speeches, fake smiles, plastic – that is what some perceive pageants to be like.  When I was asked to be a judge for the Miss Crane Festival, and Outstanding Teen competition, I was honored.  But I was also thinking to myself, “What am I getting into?”

This is the dress I wore for the evening judging. i was able to find a dress at ReFind for 12 bucks, and added a few pieces to it. (that will be in a future blog) 🙂

I’m more of a down-to-earth get my hands dirty-rather than get dolled-up type of person.   I’m not near as much of a tom-boy as I used to be, but I’ve never ever considered entering the pageant world.  Boy did my eyes open up to what opportunities pageants offer young women.

Right away, contestants stood in front of us judges as we fired off questions.  Each girl has a platform, or a cause that they want to bring awareness to.  It’s not easy for everyone to speak in front of people.  Each girl was able to overcome the intimidation, and find some inner-strength to talk about what they believe in.  (FYI I did answer my husband’s question–not one of them said “World Peace” for an answer) There are some amazing young women out there, who have such strong causes they want to get behind.   You could see the passion.  I feel privileged to have had the chance to get to know each and every one of them.

The rest of the night, I was able to see how each girl handled themselves in different situations.   How they walked and handled an evening gown, see talent showcased on stage, and watch as they engage the audience.  Sure there was a lot of bling, glam, and smiles–but these ladies also revealed what was behind all that glitz during the competition.

This is an experience that opened my eyes.  It’s more than what you see on TV and in those reality shows.  It’s what each competitor makes of it and how they take in the experience.

The one with the crown at the end was not the only winner.   These young women were able to speak-up and get a voice when in this competition.  This was also a scholarship opportunity and now they have something they can add to their resume.   Each young lady was able to walk away saying, “I did it!”

I was able to walk away saying to myself, “This pageant thing isn’t all that I originally thought it was. ”  Being involved was an honor, and I will cherish this experience.