Once upon a time, in a land far away, there was a middle-aged married woman doing middle-aged womanly duties one quiet Sunday afternoon, when she received a message from the Queen. Ok, she wasn’t “the Queen” and it wasn’t a verbal message. It was a former Mrs. Florida United States and it was a facebook message saying “You should SO be in my pageant!”
If you haven’t figured it out, the middle-aged married woman was me. I quickly replied without blinking, “you are sweet, but I don’t think I’m really pageant material.” That was March 11, 2012 and every so often she would send me new messages saying “still hoping”, despite my efforts to convince her I was not interested.
Two years past and someone recommended my mom do Mrs. Senior Florida. My mom’s first response was also a big fat no. But, after the thought about the opportunity to encourage ladies her age, she decided maybe the answer should be “yes”. I told her if she did it, I would do Mrs. Florida if “that woman” approached me again. Darned if she didn’t facebook message from her that NEXT week! That woman’s name was Pam Bolter, the director of Florida Georgia United States.
It took me 2 more years to commit to doing Mrs. Florida, but I finally took the plunge. This is my story about the entire experience; what I learned, and the inside scoop on what the Mrs. Florida pageant is all about.
3 “P”s to Pageant Prep
I only decided to do the pageant 4 weeks before the big weekend event. Talk about procrastination! So, after I decided to do the pageant, I hit the ground running. Here were a few things I had to do (and very quickly) to prepare for the pageant.
First up, I needed all the right clothes which included a full length gown, a cocktail dress, a bathing suit, a sarong and a fascinator for the dinner party. I also needed the right shoes, the perfect big blingy jewelry, makeup and hair accessories…and the list goes on. This required time. I had to shop, search, borrow and do whatever I needed to find what I needed, which was a LOT harder than I expected.
Next, I had to get sponsors. I had to come up with ads (with my picture on it, which was even more awkward and embarrassing). Asking people to put money on the line for me was incredibly difficult. Then sticking my picture in their paid advertisement was even more uncomfortable. I was completely shocked that anyone said yes quite frankly! This is when it got real. Not only did this mean I couldn’t back out, I needed to do well. This is where the personal growth began. I was officially out of my box.
Finally, there was mental preparation. As I was reading my 65 page 2-part manual, I discovered the sample interview questions. I admit, I read every single question and did not have an answer for one of them; at least, not an intelligent well-spoken one.
Questions like “If you could cover any news event that has happened in the past year which one would you choose to cover?” Nothing. I had nothing. I was thinking “I hate the news. It’s depressing.” Then, there was, “How do you encourage children to be individuals in today’s society?” or how about “Do you feel today’s women are becoming more aggressive and less romantic?” All I could think was “Oh dear. I’m in trouble”.
I’m a processor. I like to think about a subject and take my time researching it and answering it perfectly. However, this pageant was going to require a quick response – without any “ums” or “lengthy explanations. This was going to require practice.
Needless to say, there were many things still left to do to prepare for my first pageant.
Fast forwarding to today. I did it! I conquered my fears, I showed up and I gave it my best. And, while I didn’t take home a crown, I took home so much more. I learned so much about myself and about pageantry in general – and it was nothing like I imagined.
Mrs. Florida United States:
5 Things I Didn’t Expect To Take Home
While I didn’t expect to take home the crown, I didn’t expect to take home so much more. I went from feeling shocked, to awed, to awesome in 2 days flat. I still find myself processing it all, but here are just a few things I took from this experience.
I’ll admit it. I thought pageants were for pretty girls who just like to dress up. I didn’t know any better. I formulated that opinion from watching Mrs. Congeniality and seeing Honey Boo Boo headlines on the cover of tabloids in the grocery store checkout line. While I knew pageant girls were supposed to have some substance, I figured pageants attracted self-absorbed bimbos who just like to play dress up. That is a big reason I didn’t want to do a pageant. I didn’t want that to be me.
I guess I convinced myself that Mrs. Florida would be more mature. Talk about judging a book by its cover! I went in this thing really dreading being these girls and left feeling so honored to be around these girls.
I gained so much respect for these ladies, as they were prepared, educated, well-spoken, experienced, mature women who embraced being a woman, each with a desire to make a difference in their own unique way.
I realized if I were even going to “compete”, I had a LOT of work to master their pageant skills which included good interview skills, quick thinking, poise, class, elegence, stage presence, style and the ability to adapt quickly under pressure. These girls inspired me. I not only left with more respect for them, I earned a little dash of respect myself, as people realized how much this whole thing was out of my comfort zone and people appreciated my willingness to do something I was scared to do.
I’ve been on stage a million times. I’ve been on TV and in front of cameras plenty of times too. I’ve done photo shoots, media interviews and have done a dash of amateur modeling here and there. While I never had been in a pageant before, I didn’t expect to learn as much as I did because I thought I had experienced many of the same things before. Boy was I wrong!
If nothing else, I learned how much I needed to learn. Seriously, I learned just how much more I need to work on my professional skills. Pageants are excellent for improving your interview skills – from job interviews to handling the media. I also realized how much I needed to learn how to walk, to pose and to carry myself in public, to be more polished and professional. I am so relaxed in public, I could actually come across too casual. I needed to learn how to present myself in all kinds of situations, from on camera interviews to being introduced to the president. I learned I needed more more polishing.
I also discovered I need to learn how to “rap it up” as my BFF says. I love to write, but writing allows me to take my time with my thoughts. I can type, backspace, delete, cut and paste when I write. However, I have a tendency to talk like I write. Even though I’ve improved a great deal since I’ve had to learn how to do smaller sound bites for TV, I still need to exercise my thinking skills and practice quicker thinking.
In a nutshell, I learned I have a lot to learn!
3 . Friends
In the opening orientation Saturday morning, all the girls piled in a room and we met all the prior queens and got the low-down on the weekend. All the queens said the same thing, “you are going to make friends for life”. I laughed to myself and I am pretty sure I did a really good eye-roll to go with it (at least in my mind).
I am not a girlie girl. I don’t hang out with girlfriends, I don’t go to Pampered Chef Parties (unless forced) and I avoid pretty much any all-girls events at all cost. I have a few good friends, but as a whole, I really don’t like girls. Girls can be gossipy, complainy, needy, competitive and emotional. I’m kind of into low maintenance friends. So, I have my 2 friends and husband, 2 dogs and that’s enough. lol (Note: I do know this is something I need to work on and I’m working on it – just like doing this pageant.)
Of course I was trying to figure out if there was anyone I actually would like, and I met a few right off the bat that seemed pretty likable. By the end of the weekend, I actually realized I liked a lot of the girls – a lot. I had various girls help me back stage – from Jennifer Feinberg curling my hair to various girls helping me decide on which cocktail dress or jewelry to wear. So many girls were so encouraging, happy and helpful (like my stage buddies, Deanna Silva & Kim Freeman). Then there were bunches of people happy to give helpful tips along the way (thank you Dedra Curtis), and setting me at ease with encouraging words.
To my surprise, I have already connected with most of the girls on facebook and many of them have written me, and vice versa. Low and behold, they were right. You do make friends!
4. Fun Memories
I honestly thought I was going to dread every minute of this thing. I had accepted that it was going to be completely awkward (which it was), and I was ready to hate every minute of it. My goal was just to get through it with a smile even if I was a grumpy grump on the inside. Before I knew it, I was having fun.
The photo shoot on the beach was a blast. The dinner ended up being fun too, as I got to meet more girls and their spouses. The interview process was awful, but as the other girls shared their awful experiences and crazy interview questions with me, we had fun laughing about it all.
Then there was the big day. Hours of practice in high heel shoes and running around like a chicken with our heads cut off. All of it was fun! The make-up, the hair, the quick clothes changes – all fun. And, helping each other backstage was also a lot of fun. Finally, the crowning experience, as we watched our new friends get crowned was – yep, you guessed it. Fun! I was so excited for everyone who did well because, by then, I realized how hard they worked to achieve it.
I went in convinced I’d probably walk away never wanting to ever do that again, and walked out full of happy thoughts – knowing I made great memories.
Normally if I am not great at something, I avoid it at all cost. However, this experience left me feeling so challenged instead of defeated. Instead of feeling like a failure, I felt inspired to do better. I had never thought about doing more than one pageant. This was one of those “one and done” type things – or at least I thought. However, after several of the girls suggested I come back, I realized that it can only make me better.
Not only was I inspired to improve as a woman, I was inspired to serve my community where I am, as I am. I may not have a title, but I can improve as a leader in my own town and do many of the things our queens are doing across the United States.
I’ve always had a heart for missions and wanted to go out of the country, but I have a mission field right here in my own neighborhood. I have a mission field at my business, in my church and in my community. Although my time and finances are limited, there is still plenty I can do – and this pageant inspired me to reach out and find more ways to do it.
There you have it! As my grandmother used to say, “Who’da thunk it?!” I never guessed in a MILLION years this would have been such a great experience. Even though I’m still not sure if I will do it again or not, I definitely will be striving to live more like a queen – for my king (husband), for King Jesus and for my “townspeople”. I left Mrs. Florida feeling like a Queen, crown or not!
“I’ve learned that my self worth can never be defined by a panel of strangers on any given day. No matter win or lose, at the end of the day I will always walk away a winner because I’ve used each experience to better myself and grow as a woman. The crown really lies in the journey of self discovery along the way.” – Deanna Silva, 1st Runner Up Mrs. Florida
CLICK HERE to learn more about Mrs. United States pageants. CLICK HERE to learn more about Florida Georgia United States pageants.
A Ultimate Role Model: The Wife of Noble Character
A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.
13 She selects wool and flax
and works with eager hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up while it is still night;
she provides food for her family
and portions for her female servants.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She sets about her work vigorously;
her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
and her lamp does not go out at night.
19 In her hand she holds the distaff
and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
20 She opens her arms to the poor
and extends her hands to the needy.
21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for her bed;
she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
and supplies the merchants with sashes.
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31 Honor her for all that her hands have done,
and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.
– Proverbs 31:10-31