The minute you start telling people that you entered a pageant the advice starts pouring in. Former contestants are eager to tell you about how they won. Pageants fans who regularly attend pageants offer their advice. And anyone who’s ever volunteered or worked for a pageant can’t wait to share their opinion.
But when you’re inundated with all this conflicting information, it can be hard to decide which advice to follow. Wear your hair up. Wear your hair down. Don’t cut your hair short. Which one is right?
While getting advice is a good idea, sometimes well-meaning people share information that is based on rumor and speculation, not on results. Contestants who follow that advice feel disappointed and confused when they don’t get a top score.
And since I know you deserve toward a top score, let’s review The Worst Pageant Advice Ever.
1. White Always Wins
This evening gown myth has been around forever. You may have even fallen for it once or twice yourself.
But is it true? Yes and no.
The reason why the winner is often wearing white has nothing to do with the color itself. While some colors have a predictable psychological response – judges typically like blue, but don’t like orange – white does not. The reason why you see more winners in white gowns than any other color is because more gowns are produced in white. Over 50% of special occasion and pageant gowns are manufactured in white. The many other colors – shades of blue, red, purple, pink, etc. – make up the other 50% of gowns produced.
Since there are more gowns produced in white that means that more gowns styles are available in white. And that means that it is statistically more likely that a contestant wearing a white gown will win. Not because judges prefer white gowns. And not because contestants look better in white. But because there are simply more white gowns on the stage.
It comes down to statistics.
After all, Sarah Summers won Miss USA in a black gown.
And just in case you’re wondering, I got the information about white gown production from Sherri Hill who can’t stand the “white always wins” myth.
2. Never Wear _____.
People love to give advice about your competition wardrobe and what they think will get you a top score. But it’s often advice based on outdated ideas of what a pageant contestant should wear.
When Olivia Culpo wore a long-sleeved ball gown during Miss Universe 2012 social media exploded with “what was she thinking” posts. After all, no one wears a long-sleeved gown in a Miss pageant, right?
And to make matters even worse, a ‘short’ contestant (Olivia measures 5′ 7″) should never wear a full ball gown. That’s the kiss of death, right?
Of course, when Olivia won, everyone claimed to have loved her evening gown all along.
The most important thing to consider when selecting your wardrobe is how it will look on you.
3. The Judges Are Looking For _____.
This one happens to be a pet peeve of mine. You’ll hear, “the last two winners have been blondes, so they’re looking for a brunette this year.” Or, “there are several [insert hair color/race/ethnicity here] judges on the panel so they must be looking for a [insert hair color/race/ethnicity] winner this year.
I can practically guarantee that no ethical pageant director under the sun tells the judges to select the titleholder based on hair color, race or ethnicity.
People make up these types of comments so that they sound like they have inside information and to make themselves feel important.
Unfortunately, they just end up sharing questionable information.
Take a pass on this kind of advice.
4. Don’t Practice Your Interview
While this is meant to be a flattering comment, it’s not helpful in any way. This advice is typically given to a contestant who already has well-developed speaking skills or seems to be a natural during the pageant interview.
The person sharing this advice is trying to compliment you on your current interview skills. But to suggest that someone who’s already good at interview doesn’t need to practice their interview skills is like saying that if you’re the prima ballerina, you don’t need to go to dance class anymore.
Public speaking and interviewing skills need to be practiced regularly. Just because you have natural talent in an area of competition, doesn’t mean you can rest on your laurels. Someone who’s just as gifted at interview is not taking anything for granted and is regularly practicing her pageant interview.
And don’t make the mistake of thinking that someone less talented isn’t going to be able to outscore you. Remember: training beats talent every time.
5. You Should Be Like _____.
People can’t resist telling you that you look like, or remind them of, a former contestant/titleholder and that you should be just like her. They’ll show you pics of her evening gown, hair and makeup, and competition headshots. They’ll insist that if you can be just like her you’ll win.
But what works for one contestant, doesn’t necessarily work for another contestant.
You shouldn’t copy the current, or a recent, titleholder. Contestants win because they’re the best possible version of themselves. Not because they’re a faded copy of someone else.
Don’t get me wrong; it’s a good idea to benchmark previous titleholders. To benchmark, you take a look at the last five winners and analyze what qualities or abilities they have in common. Are they all strong in talent? Maybe they have a great swimsuit figure. Or do they all have a strong interview emphasizing their community service? Reviewing what successful contestants have in common is smart benchmarking.
So next time someone approaches you with advice that doesn’t ring true for you, just do the Smile and Nod. You know the Smile and Nod, right? You flash your best beauty queen smile, nod ever so slightly, and thank them for their suggestions. And all along you’re not listening to a word they’re saying. No, it’s not rude. Rude is giving you unsolicited, unqualified advice and assuming that you’re not smart enough to win on your own.
You’re going to be FABulous!