Blame It on Miss Congeniality

Blame it on Miss Congeniality... Why I love pageants and what the movie taught me about them.

I was born in the South in the 1980’s, which is a combination that pretty much guarantees a love of pageants. One Halloween when I was maybe 5, I dressed up as a princess in my favorite white dress – with the perfect twirly skirt – and a gold tiara I had worn for my birthday. The party at church was themed around what you wanted to be when you grew up. I’d watched enough Disney movies to know that princess was the full time job I wanted.

However, when we got to church, I spotted my best friend in a long dress accessorized with sash and crown, and in that moment I knew I had made the wrong life choice. Miss America is everything.

While I religiously tuned in to watch Miss America and Miss USA every year, I didn’t compete in my first pageant until I was a senior in college. That I entered a pageant at all was in large part due to the best pageant movie of all time, Miss Congeniality.

After countless viewings of the Sandra Bullock rom-com, I wanted to know for myself if hairspray kept your swimsuit from riding up, if answering questions on stage was hard, if the competition was as fun as it seemed on screen.

A handful of pageants later, I am here to tell you that hairspray does indeed keep your swimsuit from riding up, but butt glue is better. Answering questions whether on stage or in interview is always interesting because no matter how much I practice, I never know what’s going to come out of my mouth. And, yes, competing in pageants is a lot of fun.

3 Things I learned about pageants from Miss Congeniality

1. There is a right answer to the question.

Whenever you are asked about strong women you admire, the answer is Oprah or, if you are feeling especially political, Hilary Clinton. It’s best to keep your Andrew Lloyd Webber phase a secret and not say Evita.

2. You’ll pay attention to things you never thought about before.

Walking is just walking until you enter a pageant, and suddenly, you learn that a pageant queen cannot simply walk across the stage. She must glide. And, each category must have a different mood. Slow and graceful for evening gown. Fun and peppy for swimsuit. And, don’t get me started on pretty feet.

3. Confidence is everything

Keeping a smile plastered on your face while you glide across the stage is surprisingly hard, especially when you are wearing 4 inch heels and are worried about falling. But, in pageants as in life, it’s the girl who looks like she is having fun that comes home the winner.

If you missed my little announcement on Instagram, this post is my way of announcing I’m competing in another pageant, and I’m bringing you along for the ride! I’ll be representing the Great Lakes in August at Captivating Pageants, so stay tuned for more thoughts on pageants and how I prep.

Blame it on Miss Congeniality... Why I love pageants and what the movie taught me about them.

In the meantime, here’s an interview I did over at Yes and Yes years ago. I’m a huge fan of Sarah’s blog, and it was an honor to be included in her True Story series.

Do you have any questions about pageants?

Have you competed in pageants? Would you?

P.S. Shopbop is having a 25% off sale on all their sale items! Includingย Kate Spade and Rebecca Minkoff!

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  1. I love this post. I’ve always been attracted to pageants but during my youth (the heyday of feminism) they were viewed negatively as anti-feminist, especially where I lived (New York). The reality of the events is, I’m sure and you confirm, different from that.

    Rewarding women for confidence is never bad — in fact, it’s downright feminist. We humans have a natural attraction to confidence and strength and when women strive for it through traditional culture, this is how it’s done. I still wish I could have participated in one of these…


    One, I never knew that growing up Southern was synonymous with knowing everything there is to know about pageants. Do you need a talent for this particular pageant? How do you butt paste? Are the women as catty as I always imagine them to be, OR are they supportive of one another?

    Also, I think it’s SO NEAT you are participating in one and I can’t wait to follow along on your journey ๐Ÿ™‚ XOXO

  3. Never done the pageant thing, but I do enjoy that movie. And I really didn’t know you were a pageant girl. Totally looking forward to following along with your next competition. All of this was so fun to read. I smile in all my blog photos, and by the end of the shoot, my mouth muscles feel like collapsing, lol.

  4. Adding my congrats on doing the Captivating Pageant, Ashley! How cool is that?!? And I love Miss Congeniality:) I love how that movie inspired you to get into pageantry. I’m thinking of doing it for my youngest, but my hubby doesn’t like the idea too much right now.

  5. I’m so super excited for you!!!!
    I grew up in Texas, so I totally get it. ๐Ÿ™‚
    I was a model. I know… but you’re short. Yeah, the modeling career didn’t go far. It was during my early teen years. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Good luck inte pageant! Pageant are very uncommon in Sweden. We only have Miss Sweden ones a year and that almost went out of business