Beauty pageants have come a long way since eight young women competed to become the first Miss America in 1921. Whether you’re petite or plus-size, male or female, young or old, there is a pageant for you to enter. While each pageant has unique standards, expectations, and regulations for contestants, there are universal norms that need to be followed.


Before the Pageant

Research your pageant thoroughly. Familiarize yourself with all rules, regulations and standards for contestants. Read all paperwork provided by the pageant, and call pageant officials with questions at least two weeks before the beauty pageant begins.

Know your judges. Before arriving at the pageant site, learn all that you can about each judge. Familiarize yourself with the judges’ history and try to determine what they look for in contestants. If a judge has a particular pet peeve, having that information can get you one step closer to the win.

Determine what will set you apart from the crowd. Beauty pageants are all about getting noticed by the judges. Ponder your uniqueness and learn to balance your individuality against the norms of beauty that guide your particular pageant circuit. You want to stand out, but for the right reasons.

Find a sponsor if necessary. If you are unable to afford all of the expenses associated with beauty pageants, including travel money, cost of attire and entrance fees, visit local businesses and urge them to gain publicity and serve the community through sponsorship.

Hire a pageant coach. Many former beauty pageant winners or other industry experts offer private consulting services. Ask pageant officials for recommendations or search the Internet for local listings.

Practice speaking and performing in front of an audience of friends and family members and in front of the mirror. Ask loved ones for honest feedback about how you might improve your posture, voice inflection, or general presence.

During the Competition

Be on your best behavior at all times. Many pageants take place over the course of a weekend in large hotels. Whether you’re hanging out in the hotel lobby or dining in the hotel restaurant, act as though you are being watched every minute. You never know where the judges might be.

Treat other contestants with respect. Your goal should be to win the crown and the title of Miss Congeniality. Your ability to get along with your competitors will speak to your good sportsmanship. Judges do know what goes on behind the scenes.

Make eye contact with judges while on stage. It is not advisable to stare at them, but connect with the judges throughout the competition. Judges look for inner beauty in contestants, so let the judges see yours.

Have confidence in yourself and know that you have worked hard to earn your position in the pageant. If your self-esteem waivers during the competition, the judges will sense it even if you think you’re disguising your distress.

Accept your title with grace. If you happen to lose, keep your head up and hold your tears back. Treat a loss as a learning experience and take the crown next time.

Tips

  • If the pageant is not professionally recorded, ask permission for a family member to videotape the competition. Reviewing previous pageants can help you drastically improve your performance in the future.

  • Many pageants award scholarships. It is possible to put yourself through school with beauty pageant winnings.