I guess I am probably not a typical father, but I was mortified when my beautiful, but extremely shy 17 year old daughter told me she wanted to do the National American Miss Pageant. After all unlike her brother, she really never asks for much so I reluctantly and with extreme foreboding said yes. We went to the open house and they told us that only about half the girls would make it to the next level. I had a very strong feeling that every single girl would make it to the next level, but I couldn’t prove that of course. My daughter is a very good kid and very pretty, but she is socially awkward around her peers. She is much more comfortable hanging out with my friends. Anyway, they were upfront about the cost. I knew that the entrance fee was $480 and we would be expected to buy a dress and interview outfit. I also knew that we would need to pay for the hotel and food. Overall I expected to be out about $1,500. When it was all said and done, I think I spent closer to $2k. Anyway, this may sound very strange, but when we were driving to the pageant which was a 4 hour drive from our house, all I could think of is that I was about to send my daughter to the Hunger Games. I know that is silly, but I just felt like she was going to be eaten alive by the career pageant girls.
Well, once we got there knew pretty quickly that she probably wouldn’t win. There were around 60 contestants and about 20 or so were definitely what I would call career pageant girls. They could have given Miss America a run for her money. There were a number of optional competitions that cost extra money. I think they were $50 for each one, but some may have been more than others. My kid didn’t do those because we already spent allot of money up to that point. The staff consisted of a few young ladies who were previous pageant winners and some younger guys. They were courteous and professional but seemed rather bored at times. The lady who ran it was a great motivational speaker and reminded me of one of those evangelical preachers you see on TV that makes you feel good about yourself. She was good at pumping up the crowd. She was a previous pageant winner as well.
I was surprised to see that there were allot of parents there like me. I was expecting a room full of crazy pageant moms, but there were only a few. Most of the dads were pretty cool and I talked to a few of them. I would say that at least half the girls there had never been in a pageant before. I got to talk to two different girls and their stories were very similar to my daughters. They had never done anything like that before and wanted to give it a try. One actually did quite well in the modeling competition which led me to believe that the competitions are not rigged or anything since that was her first time competing. They were short on escorts for the formal wear competition so I escorted my daughter and one other girl.
So, my daughter didn’t win, nor did the other two girls that I spoke with. The girl who did win was pretty amazing as far as pageant standards go. She was eloquent and beautiful and had perfect nails and a dazzling white smile. I definitely couldn’t see her helping me fix the roof on my barn or helping me change the oil in my wife’s car like my daughter can though. After it was over, we were standing outside the changing room and I had my first encounter with a pageant mom. She was upset because her daughter didn’t win and immediately started telling me a conspiracy theory of how it wasn’t fair or something like that. All I could think of was thank God this damned thing is over, I just want to go home now. Her daughter was crying because she didn’t win, which was funny because my daughter was just glad she made it through the whole thing without falling over. LOL I love that kid.
Was it worth it? My daughter says it was worth it and she was glad that she did it. I have a tremendous amount of respect for my daughter because that took allot of courage to put herself out there like that. I don’t think I would have ever had the courage to do something like that and she just went for it without any hesitation. I am very impressed with my little girl.
In the end, she is happy. I think she feels accomplished, but another aspect about my daughter that I love is the fact that she felt so loved by my wife and me because we supported her through this experience. I could just see the appreciation in her eyes and I guess that was enough for me to say that it was worth it.
Is it a scam? The only part that seemed a little shady to me was during the open house when they said that only about half the girls would make it. Like I already mentioned, I have a feeling that everyone who went to that open house was accepted, but I am not sure.
If you are on the fence, I hope my experience helps you to decide one way or the other. I think that you should ask yourself the question of why your daughter wants to do this. If she wants to win, then be prepared for her to go up against girls that have been doing this for years. I heard also that they have professional pageant coaches that you can hire and many of the serious competitors do hire coaches. If this is her first pageant, then just know that the chance for her to win is very slim. Some of those girls literally could compete in the Miss America contest. If she just wants to go for the experience and you have $1,500 lying around, then go for it.
As for my daughter, that was her first and last pageant. She jokingly said that she marked that off her bucket list. As for me, I don’t ever want to see another pageant for the rest of my life.
Location: Virginia Beach, Virginia