What does it mean to be a “pageant girl” – or rather a pageant woman? It means so much more than I ever imagined.
This past week-end was the culmination of a journey that started about 6 months ago, but has been rooted in my psyche for over 30 years.
In interview, I was asked if the married women of Arizona could relate to a pageant winner. Yes, they can, if the right woman is selected. Unlike superstars, we’re not paid to be glamorous or to keep our bodies in paparazzi shape. We’re regular wives, moms, women who happen to have a dream to wear a crown and have access to a public forum to inspire others or to bring attention to a worthy cause. We work hard for this – and if we can, anyone can.
Some of us are traditional pageant girls who grew up and got married and still have that dream. Maybe they had a crown, maybe they didn’t, but they still have that desire. Some of us were in pageant eons ago and want to see what we can do now. Others have never been in a pageant, period. And at least one of us had a traumatic experience once, a long time ago, and needed to banish a nightmare and build a new memory.
Regardless of where we came from or how we got there, we were all on the same stage.
It was a physically and emotionally brutal week-end, late nights, early mornings, demanding schedules, stress, worry, hopes, and everything in between. Although I was worried about managing it with my own challenges, I came through it with no worries. I did have to modify medication and physical regimens, but I prepared and was ready. In fact, I was not worried until I saw the stage and realized my voluptuousness would be five feet in front of the judges in an ill-fitting swimsuit. yikes. Maybe I wasn’t worried because I realistically did not think I would win. Sure, I had hopes of winning some piece of it. And I did. I won a piece of my pride. I felt brilliant, beautiful, and bold.
But you know what? I also made friends for life. I was the second to oldest competitor, the longest married, and probably the biggest hick there. There was not a woman there that I would have been disappointed that she won. God puts us in the right place at the right time. In fact, before the pageant, we prayed together as a group. No pressure. It happened organically.
And each of these women are quite inspirational. Their stories are unique, but similar in that we all faced our own demons, arrived at this moment, and came out winners.
And the fact that former competitors and titleholders were there to help us all through it? It’s a family. When we stumbled, another caught us. When we forgot a move, another reminded us. When our dress was crooked, another straightened it. We truly helped each other and I cannot tell you another time in life where I have ever experienced such an overwhelming sense of purpose, pride, and teamwork shared by an entire group, who were all competing for the same award. And let’s not get into details on the level of nakedness in the elevators as we rushed for clothing changes!!! Band camp’s got nothin’ on us.
And then to be named Mrs. Congeniality, in honor of Jeanne Schmitz. Shocking. Humbling. Please don’t tell them I’m a cold-hearted attorney…let’s keep that between us.
Will I be back? Yes. I needed that sparkly carrot to motivate me to lose weight and get healthier. Now I want that sparkly carrot because I am a competitor and I love this sense of belonging. I also am Mrs. Scottsdale for the next year and I want to make appearances and do stuff. Hook me up, peeps.
In the end, my journey has made me a better person. I hope it is helped anyone else out there with struggles and doubts to realize that they can be conquered. Perhaps their route is different than mine, but they all start with one step forward. Take that step and keep moving. And when you miss a step or are forced backwards, get back on the path or forge your own way. Be you. Be the best you. Be the brilliant, beautiful, and bold you.