Upon deciding to enter the Miss North Ontario Regional Canada Pageant last October, a part of me thought I was crazy. “What are you doing?” I asked myself, “You’re not a pageant girl”. That is, after all, the most common response that girls offer when I ask them if they would ever consider being in a pageant. It is mind boggling isn’t it? So many people are fascinated watching pageant ceremonies on TV or live from the audience; in awe of the gorgeous girls, elegant gowns and finely honed talents. These spectators, however, are the very same people that want nothing to do with being on the stage. “I’m just not a pageant girl” they will say. But “pageant girl”… what does that mean?
Before I experienced the reality of MNORCP a few weeks ago, I’ll admit, I thought everyone other than me was going to be perfect. I expected to see only girls coming from affluent families that face few life problems and are constantly wearing the newest clothes and exchanging the latest gossip. I am so thankful for the wakeup call that I received upon my arrival. There was not one type of girl at this pageant. In fact, there weren’t several different types either. Every single girl was so unique. There were girls from big cities and small towns; girls who had formerly attended pageants and girls who had never been in any. There were girls who loved sports and girls who were afraid of the ball. There were girls who danced ballet and girls who excelled in science class or on the shooting range. The only thing that we seemed to all have in common was a drive and passion to reach our full potential in everything we do; a drive that was nurtured and supported by the environment created during those few, life-changing days of the MNORCP. Our time was short but enough, however, to form friendships amongst all of us. Fourty-three delegates and there was not one single rumour or cat-fight… I don’t even recall a single argument! Clearly, the stereo-typical diva is not a valid definition of “pageant girl”.
So what are pageant girls? From my experience at Miss North, they are the girls that find time in their busy lives to raise money for charities; the girls that summon the courage to take a risk and try a new competition. They are the girls that make friends, not cliques. They are the girls that are willing to help another contestant in any way they can; dispelling the “every girl for her-self” attitude. These are the girls that understand the importance of embracing their own individuality, knowing that they are of most benefit to the world when they are fully expressing themselves. They are the ones that put themselves in a state of utmost vulnerability – answering questions up on that stage- with the faith that this openness is what they need to succeed. Best of all, these girls are the ones that get to develop their skills and confidence through a comprehensive schedule of workshops, experience moments of a lifetime through planned activities and have the chance to represent their own community in a very honourable candidacy. If these aren’t great reasons to get up on that stage and be a “pageant girl”, then I don’t know what is.

Written by: Hannah Simard

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