It may come as a shock to find out I was a judge at the 2014 Miss Pleasant Grove Pageant. It’s not something I’ve ever done before or thought I’d ever be involved in but I’m honestly glad I did it. Thanks to a good family friend for thinking of me, I was asked and I thought about it for a minute… then said, “why not?”
How I Became a Judge
Miss Pleasant Grove is governed under the Miss American pageant system. The rules for the Miss America competition require there to be five judges with four being experienced pageant judges and one being what’s called a “novice” judge. That was me. I was the novice judge who had no previous experience with pageants in any way. (I’ve now graduated to experienced having judged a full pageant).
They were looking for someone from the local community / neighboring cities that would provide a unique perspective on the pageant and somehow thought of me. I decided to say yes if for nothing else than to experience something I’d never done before and maybe even come up with some story ideas or characters from it.
Like many of you, I had some negative perceptions of pageants in general. My only experiences with them were watching air-head girls on TV who seemed fake, plastic, shallow, and entirely obsessed with their looks. TV is a visual medium and so all these televised pageants only show us the girls in evening gowns, swimsuits, and different dresses. I assumed most pageants were just a sexist, shallow way to exploit women.
Miss America Pageants
There may be pageants out there like the negative notions I had but Miss America is most certainly not one of them. This is an academic scholarship pageant. 70% of the judge’s score is weighted on intelligence, talent, and service the contestant performs. The other 30% is on grace, poise, and physical fitness. I was super impressed with how hard these girls had to work.
They spend literally months before the pageant preparing. They have to develop a cause called their “platform” where they do something to make the community a better place. They have to raise money for their charity. They get on a health and exercise program to foster a healthy lifestyle. They develop their talents and learn confidence that will open so many more doors to them in life.
Some Impressions of the Show
Here’s a few thoughts I took away from the competition:
- Being an Eagle Scout myself, I compared the work these girls put in to what most Eagle Scouts do and honestly, their effort was much more rigorous and valuable to the community than most Eagle projects. I’d like to see the Boy Scouts make the Eagle Scout project more useful and enforce more rigorous standards like this.
- I was saddened to find that many of the girl’s platforms dealt with suicide prevention. So many of the contestants had personally had friends that committed suicide. These girls were 16, 17, and 18 years old and it was heartbreaking to hear the epidemic of suicide hit home here in Utah.
- I really enjoyed the first portion especially of the competition where the judges did a private interview with the girls. We were able to ask them questions about their platform, their interests, their talents, and current events. It had to be nerve-wracking but the girls did a great job and I learned a lot about the perspective of teens that age, what they deal with, what they think about the world. It’s a group I don’t normally get to speak candidly with so it was very enlightening.
When asked at the end if I’d ever judge again by one of the other judges, I said “yes.” It was a great way to do some community service and I felt like this pageant is really something worthwhile to support.