A pageant is one of the most amazing things you can get your daughter involved in! But,only If it's done right. Believe me I have had my share of bad experiences, and my share of good ones. And since my daughter is still competing 7 years after we started, the majority have been very good experiences. Everyone loves to win. We all want recognition for our efforts, and we all want a pat on the back for a job well done. Let's face it, sometimes we even want that pat on the back for a job not so well done. I started the National All American Elite (NAAE) Civic Pageantry System because I think girls and young women should put their efforts into activities that will make them better people and better women. NAAE is a great avenue for any young girl or woman. NAAE's message is one that is built on the concept that the things that really matter are not our physical looks, or our level of popularity at school or how much we are in demand on our social calendars. What should really be important to our girls is that they have answers for tough questions,like "what did you today to make someone elses life better"? What did you go out in to the community and give with absolutely no reward or reimbursement? We can't raise strong women for tomorrow if we don't teach them TODAY to put value in things that make a difference in this world. Our girls will never learn strength of character if they rely on their physical appearance and their popularity.
Many people in my life, including my Mother were concerned when I introduced pageants to my daughter at age 7. The first two were disasters, in my eyes anyway. She had an amateur wardrobe malfunction on stage, and then a mini emotional meltdown as she began to play the piano. Those two events were frought with moments that you think would have burned her from ever wanting to be on stage again. But I learned quickly that her perception and what she took away from those moments was going to be determined by how I handled those "disasters". I focused on the positive, I focused on the girls she met, the cool trophy she got, how lovely she looked in her pageant clothes and how much fun it was to go out and shop for that pageant stuff. As we walked back to our hotel room, I was cringing inside and telling myself that she was probably scarred for life and would be on some psychiatrist couch 20 years from now re-telling this story. Amazingly enough, she looked at me in the elevator and said, when will there be another pageant I can do? I knew right then, that she picked up on everything I said and did and what she took away from that day was the positivity I displayed to her in my actions, my looks, my voice and my encouragement.
Most recently, I watched her at a school function, stand up and give a speech when she ran for a student body office. She was poised, confident, almost "newscaster" like in her professionalism and as I watched other students at the podium fumbling with notecards and words and their obvious anxiety, I knew I had done right by her. I also watch her in stores when virtual strangers compliment her or ask her a question and she replies and responds with eye contact, a confident voice and shoulders held back because she knows who she is. I've also watched her lose in sports and pageants and school activities when I know in my gut she was deserving and times when she definitely deserved to lose. And in those times, I've seen her grace and her character shine through. She gets her share of practice in disappointment, as we all do in life because she knows she can't always win. She got THAT from pageants. She got that way from walking on stage, introducing herself, and hitting her mark just right and knowing she is in the right outfit in front of the right judges that are gonna make this HER day. She gets it from having that very same feeling and hearing someone else's name called as queen. She gets it from having to answer ridiculous interview questions like " what would you be if you could be a knife, fork or spoon and why"? She gets it from forgetting her piano song halfway through and repeating the first half of the song three times to stretch the song out. And she get its from nailing a clean magic routine and watching the spectators on their feet applauding. Pageants are a character building roller coaster. It's an experience I hope you will consider giving your daughter. Will and I would love to be along for the ride.