Back home in the South, beauty pageants are a pretty big deal and I can't say I've really noticed many going on since we've lived in New York. But, if you've caught TLC's Toddlers & Tiaras then you might know what I'm talking about. Us Southern girls love our big hair, sparkly dresses and flashy smiles! Growing up, I competed in beauty pageants pretty much every weekend until I left for college, and even then I still did a couple here and there. I competed in my first pageant at only four months old!
For the record, the child beauty pageants I competed in were nothing like the ones showcased on T&T. My mother wasn't overweight, she wasn't forcing me to live out her unfulfilled fantasy and she certainly wasn't doing dance routines behind the judge's table.
I also worked in the television industry for nearly a decade and can attest to the tricks of clever editing. To put it simply, don't believe everything you see on tv, folks. I know several people that have appeared on the Toddler & Tiaras series who are normal, excellent parents and many of the pageants featured on the show were in towns close by, or where I've lived before. I also have pageant mom friends who have turned down the opportunity to be followed by TLC's camera crews because of the negative publicity associated with the show.
Pageants may get a bad rap, but they're something I would never change about my childhood. They taught me confidence, poise and how to put on liquid eyeliner! I loved getting my hair and makeup done, putting on a pretty dress and sometimes, winning a crown and trophy! I started competing at four months old, but I never took home a crown until I was 11! I don't have any pictures from my early days as a beauty queen up here in New York, but I did find a couple from my teenage years to share.
I didn't always win and that certainly made me a good sport. Learning how to lose gracefully is one of the best lessons in life. I never cried over not getting queen or placing as an alternate. Truthfully, my favorite part was spending the one-on-one time with my mother.
Pageants run in the family too...while we were in Missouri/Arkansas for the 4th of July, I had the chance to help my cousin Kayla get ready for the Miss Pollard beauty pageant. I actually won the title back in 1994 and it's also been a pageant several women in my family have competed in over the years.
There's just something fun about getting all fixed up!
Plus, it's a fun excuse to drag out the old crowns...
But the real beauty was Kayla! We were bummed she didn't make it into the Top 10, but she was our top pick anyway!