I said yes to being a panel judge for a pageant geared towards young women. Can you believe it? I’m a feminist. Isn’t it a contradiction to want to judge young ladies on the way they dress, speak and walk? Am I sending a wrong message? Ugh, I struggled with the question when asked and then I realized that I’m not.
Why? Because feminism is about equality for women. I am not going stop being who I am and let’s be real…aren’t we all judged everyday? So, I decided to research the pageant before committing. I mean, I didn’t want to set my gender back by judging a swimsuit competition.
Here’s what I discovered:
The Pageant began in 1955, only one year after the annual Labor Day Festival originated. The first Pageant was open to women between the ages of 15 and 50. It was a fundraiser for the construction of the Youth Center building. Votes were cast by turning in pennies in collection jars set out at various businesses, and children helped collect penny votes. The woman with the most pennies to her credit won the title. The first winner was married and had three children when she won at the age of 30!
In 1956, the rules were modified slightly. Entrants had to be single and between the ages of 16 and 25. The contest was called the “Popularity Crown” or “Popularity Contest.” Once the Youth Center was a reality, the theme evolved to “Unity Through Community Involvement.” Over the years, the Pageant has been modified, streamlined, and organized under various directors, becoming what is known today as the Pageant System. In 1982, the swimsuit competition was removed. The Little Miss and Junior Miss contests were added in the 1980s. In 1992 the Pageant began to emphasize the importance of education, and gave scholarships to the title winners.
The competition is designed to teach girls poise and self confidence, how to be at ease with themselves and others, and how to have fun in a team effort toward a common goal.
All contestants receive special recognition in the Pageant System because everyone is viewed as a winner!
Yeah! I liked the pageant evolution and decided that I would love to be a judge because of these three things:
- There is no swimsuit competition and that it was removed 33 years ago. No exploitation of young women’s bodies. I liked that.
- They are teaching girls poise, self confidence and how to be at ease with themselves. This is awesome. You don’t learn this until later in life and a competition that focuses on that is something I am interested in being a part of. Empowering our girls is awesome!
- There is scholarship money to college. I believe in education and with the rising costs of education in this country, this is a great way to gain life skills and earn money towards your tuition.
I had to stop and smell the roses. I wasn’t selling out my gender by participating as a judge in a pageant. I was empowering young women to see the beauty in who they are and be a part of an organization that believes that they are all winners.
Now, back to the movement!