Sacrifices Worth the Effort During Pageant Week
BY SUMMER HENNINGS
Special to The Pilot
A simple Facebook message changed my life.
Well, maybe not my life, but definitely my year and maybe a little of my outlook.
The message asked if I was interested in participating in the Miss Moore County pageant. I was intrigued more than interested, but I still signed up.
Two weeks later I started an adventure accessorized by a new crown.
From parades, to schools, to the bag of peanut M&Ms I ate backstage on finals night, being Miss Moore County has been an amazing experience.
Do not be fooled. Being a queen is a lot more work than I ever expected, and definitely more work than most people realize.
Before becoming Miss Moore County, I thought the girls waving in parades were just that - a pretty face with a title.
Eight months after receiving my crown, I am just starting to realize the lessons I have learned by being Miss Moore County.
The main part of the pageant experience has to be preparing for and participating in the Miss North Carolina Pageant.
So how does one prepare?
I like to say I re-learned how to walk, talk, stand, eat and work out in the months leading up to the pageant.
Physically, I began training for the pageant in December. I decided to run a half-marathon to get in shape for the lifestyle and fitness (better known as swimsuit) component of the pageant.
Contrary to popular belief, it isn't enough to just look skinny to win Miss North Carolina. I needed to look fit and in shape.
I have never been a runner. In fact, I have always hated running. Why I chose to run a half-marathon is still beyond me. However, after three months of training, I ran my first half-marathon with my dad in March.
For the past two months, my schedule has been filled with a constant string of lessons, meetings, still more appearances, and many workouts.
I began working out every day for at least an hour and kept to a strict high protein, low carb diet.
In other words, I said goodbye to all of my favorite foods so I could try to build muscle. Those peanut M&Ms I ate on finals night? I ate them as soon as I found out I didn't make top 10 - or in other words, as soon as I found out I didn't have to walk on stage in my bikini again.
To prepare for my interview, I had to take lessons. For two months, I practiced answering questions, had mock interviews and kept up with the news every day. I learned how to control an interview with my responses.
The judges at Miss North Carolina aren't just trying to get to know you - they're trying to trip you up. They ask you controversial and emotionally charged questions to see how you respond. Contestants are asked their opinions on gay marriage, Amendment 1, abortion, the death penalty and much more.
I also took lessons on many things I thought I already knew how to do - walking and standing. There is an art to walking gracefully in sky-high heels and a technique for standing in a swimsuit so every muscle is defined. Dance lessons rounded out my schedule.
Although we were not judged on the dance numbers, the judges are still watching!
The constant preparation was worth it in the end. I did not make the top 10, but I am proud to say I held my own against girls who have competed in pageants their entire lives.
The pageant was an amazing experience I will have for the rest of my life. Only 36 girls in the world can say they participated in the 75th Miss North Carolina Pageant - I am one of them.
The contestants were divided into three groups of 12, which determined who we roomed with, who rode in which shuttle, which dressing room we were in, and what we competed in each night. The girls of Group A became my friends for the week, and many will be my friends for life.
I moved into the pageant activities Friday, June 15, and from that day on we were constantly going. That first weekend, we rehearsed for 12 hours a day, and the rehearsals continued during the week.
Many nights we returned to our rooms after midnight and had to be up, dressed, and ready to go by 7:30 the next morning. Add to that the days when we not only had to be ready to go by 7:30, but ready to go with full makeup and perfectly styled hair. The result? No sleep.
By Thursday (when contestants had their interviews with the judges), we all were exhausted.
My group had interviews first. I did my best to appear bright and wide awake with five hours of sleep. My judges didn't look like they fared much better.
We contestants joked that the pageant really judged the survival of the fittest - whoever was still standing up by finals would take home the crown.
Jokes aside, I think my friend Ciara, Miss Greater Sampson County, described it best. She said we really just go on stage and beg the judges to "like me, please like me."
Because truly, any of the 36 Miss North Carolina contestants would have made a wonderful Miss North Carolina 2012. What the judges focus on and what the judges like determines who wins.
As ridiculous as this situation may seem, the opportunity to be Miss North Carolina is worth the week. Knowing what I have gained just from being Miss Moore County, I know having the higher title would be worth all the sacrifices that go along with it.
During this past year I have gained confidence, become a better public speaker, started living a healthier lifestyle, and learned to take even more pride in my community.
During my interview, one of the judges asked me if I thought pageants were still relevant today. A year ago I would've laughed and said no. During pageant week my answer was "absolutely."
Summer Hennings, Miss Moore County 2012, is a former Pilot intern and a student at UNC-Chapel Hill.
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