The Truth About Pageants


I have wanted to say something for a long time and have just not taken the time to put it down on paper. I want to address the “stereotype of the Pageant contestant”. I think the public is getting fed a bill of misconceptions or lately referred to as “fake News” about pageant contestants.


First, let me state as a disclaimer, that about 500 pounds ago, I was also a Pageant contestant. I entered my local MAO pageant and much to my surprise, won and was crowned the first Miss Illinois Valley. Don’t ask the year-it’s not important to this story. Unashamedly, I want everyone to know the sole reason I entered the pageant was for the scholarship money for college. I would prefer to say it was for a great cause or platform, but truly it was solely for scholarship money. I was an Illinois State Scholar, but unfortunately, Illinois didn’t give you any money for being a scholar.


What is hard to believe, for anyone that knew me at that time because thankfully we all grow and change as people, I was a pretty hard core feminist and still am in many ways. So quite the juxtaposition- one month I am at the Illinois House of Representatives and even on television, lobbying vociferously for my equal rights and the next I am parading around in a swimsuit, singing “I’m just a Girl who Cain’t Say No” from the musical, Oklahoma ( YES I REALLY DID SING THAT!!!!! WHO ADVISED THAT!!!!). How do I explain this? I don’t . It makes perfect sense if you understand that pageant contestants come in all shapes, sizes and more importantly, philosophies.


My store, Bridal Elegance, is now a wardrobe sponsor to over 50 different pageant systems. What I want to stress to you today is that the media has the public believing that pageants are dumb, or foolish, or playing to vanity of the individuals. I am here to tell you that is NOT TRUE. Pageants are many things, depending on the pageant system and the individuals and organizations involved, but one important thing that pageants do is change girls/women’s lives. I have seen it over and over again. A shy girl, or one lacking self-esteem and confidence transforms into a more confident, smiling contestant who makes many lifelong friends. You can see it in their smiles, in their walks, their very posture reflecting their new self-assurance, and it’s a life-changing attitude.


Now I realize some people will not believe me when I tell you pageants are a very good thing, a very self-motivating, self-awareness for girls, but if you know any pageant girl, please ask her for her opinion. Find out for yourself how it has affected their lives. Of course it goes without saying, that through my lifetime, I have met many pageant girls/women and 99% of them are very smart, have detailed written goals, extremely focused and disciplined, and are destined to be leaders in their work or fields of endeavor. Are there some that are not? Of course, but I have met very few of them and the pageant systems reward those who work hard and are serious. In conclusion, as I fly to see the next Miss USA crowned, I look forward to being surrounded by all of these smart, independent women and am very proud to be associated with them and their organizations.


Jan Ferracuti