This will be my second year competing at Miss Missouri, and I am in awe of each and every competitor I meet, because I know firsthand what it took to get there. Not only have they prepared for the pageant, but they are also each an outstanding and accomplished teen in their everyday lives. I will enjoy seeing some of my old friends, and I look forward to making new ones.
Another stereotype about pageant girls is that there are a lot of catty back-stabbers who misbehave and bully each other behind the scenes, like we've all seen on reality TV shows about pageantry. Unfortunately, this particular stereotype is sometimes accurate. Leading up to the pageant competitions, many people read message boards which rate the competitors, discuss which ones are talented and which are not, which ones are carrying a few extra pounds, and those who might be less attractive. This type of cyberbullying is meant to intimidate and disarm anybody who might be feeling “a little too confident” going into competition week. Also, there may be some participants (and even their parents or directors!) who criticize, disparage, or otherwise try to tear down other competitors. I often ask myself, “Why do they do this to themselves?” That’s right, they’re only hurting themselves when they are focusing negative attention on others, because they should be focusing positive energy and effort on their own performance. When you bully other competitors, you are hurting yourself most of all.
We have to remind ourselves that this competition is really a journey of self-improvement, so even the 28 teens who DON’T walk away with the state crown will have gained some valuable tools to take forward in their lives. Hopefully, each girl will also walk away with 28 friends.
I wish each of the Miss Missouri Teen & Miss contestants ALL the joy, friendship, and success in the coming week. Notice that I didn’t say “good luck,” because we all know that luck has nothing to do with the result of the competition! We all work hard to get there, we work hard all week, and hopefully we will work hard at being friendly competitors. See you in Mexico (Missouri!)!