Thursday, September 11, 2014

Three life lessons I learned from beauty pageants

I am unabashedly unashamed to admit that I was a "pageant girl" back in the day. It's a joke between my friend and me that people didn't take you seriously as a journalist if you had been a beauty queen... although you can just look around at all the former titleholders who turned into news anchors to see how far that rings true. 

I wasn't the stereotypical Pageant Patty who wore more rhinestones than fabric and collected more crowns than friends, but I did invest TONS of time and energy into competing at one point in my life. There's an understandable stigma of negativity surrounding beauty pageants these days, and I truly get it. Some people criticize them as placing too much emphasis on physical appearance (I don't agree with that assessment for the Miss America system-- and working in TV news could be worse, as far as being valued for appearance). Also, I admit that I personally experienced some pageant bullying first-hand! Nope, not saying names, although it would probably make this blog post a lot more interesting if I told those stories!!  ;)  

But years later, looking back, I am SO GLAD that I participated in pageants because of the valuable benefits that I gained from them.
Smiling on the outside... on the inside, probably thinking "My feet hurt in these heels."

There was a phase in my college years when every single weekend, I was competing in some different Miss Louisiana preliminary. I had it down to a science: packing, traveling, rehearsing for the competition, etc. I caught the pageant bug in high school, when I entered and won the first-ever beauty pageant at Ouachita Parish High School. I was "Miss Winter Wonderland," although I am giggling just typing that.  :)  I got a crown, $250 and eternal glory, LOL!  ;) 
All hail Miss OPHS Winter Wonderland! 
Those roses were almost dead by the time I got this photo made, haha

In college, I competed in the Miss ULM pageant three times. I was 2nd runner up, then 1st runner-up and 1st runner-up. Too bad I never won that one! But I did get a full year's worth of tuition every time I was 1st RU. My first time to compete in Miss Louisiana, I remember how excited I was when I was named Miss Congeniality. That was a thrill!!

In my last-ever pageant, Miss Louisiana 2005, I enjoyed being interviewed by Rosie, a radio personality in England who chose me because I was the first Asian-American to participate in the state competition. She said the final broadcast would air on BBC Radio to more than 4 million listeners! I can neither confirm nor deny the veracity of her statistics, but I do remember listening to the final product online. Not sure why I didn't make a point to save that broadcast for posterity's sake.
With my mom, sister and dad-- shout out of appreciation to my mom,
for working nearly as hard as I did during my pageant days!

Enough rambling down memory lane... here are three lessons that I learned from competing in pageants:

1. Overcome a fear of being in front of a crowd by putting yourself out there, and JUST DOING IT. If you can walk on stage in a swimsuit and high heels, you can make a speech in front of thousands, or do a liveshot from a fresh crime scene in the pouring rain. Well, at least, that's what I told myself. I felt like I can do ANYTHING after competing! 
Talent competition was my favorite
I wish you could see the electric blue satin under this train! 

2. Study the masters, and model yourself after them to succeed. This is something Napoleon Hill wrote about in the classic Think and Grow Rich. Someone ahead of you has already achieved greatness. If you desire the success they accomplished, study their habits and do what they did. I watched Miss America competition interviews over and over, and imagined that I was in those state titleholders' shoes. I would practice saying their answers, and I felt so much more confident in interview competition because I knew how the previous winners responded. I wasn't a parrot, just mindlessly repeating words others had spoken before me... I simply learned from their winning ways by modeling myself after them.

3. Hair and makeup skills can help you look more polished. Sorry if you were hoping for a deep piece of advice on this one.  :)  But it's true that the way you present and groom yourself affects how people perceive you. They always say "Dress for the job you want, not the one you have." I've always enjoyed makeup and hair and everything girly, hence my CruzTube YouTube beauty channel... but the beauty tricks I learned in my pageant years has been helpful, especially since I don't like to spend a long time getting ready. When you only have five minutes between competitions, and you have to redo your hairstyle and change clothes, you learn how to do the steps quickly! These days, I can get ready for work in less than 20 minutes with hair and makeup completed while coffee is brewing. 
My Fleur de Lis princess, Catherine, has grown up to look like a model!
Makes me feel old...

I hope you enjoyed reading about some of my pageant experiences! Are you going to watch the Miss America competition this weekend? It's like my Super Bowl.  :)  #CheersToPageants 


  1. Wow-- you looked amazing. I think pageants are great! I wish I would have seriously considered competing in a few. :) Great tips!

    1. Just wanna say that there are Mrs. pageants, ya know... I could see you being Mrs. Florida. :)

  2. absolutely! i never did them but there are so many things you can learn from something like that... some short-sighted people, unfortunately, can't see that! they just like to poke instead...

    1. There are a lot of news folks who write off "pageant girls" that go into news, thinking they always got there for a pretty face. Although I admit that does happen, many times it's often just that previous contestants have strong work ethics and a "go getter" attitude. :)