I was excited, nervous, and unsure. I felt that whatever I did was wrong. Do I miss out on this once in a lifetime opportunity? Should I save money and not bother? Would I regret it if I don’t? How would this look for work – would it be appropriate if Human Resources found out? Buying a gown would be fun, but is that a good enough reason to do it? But what if I did advance to the finals then win- then I’d compete in Miss USA and if I win that, then Miss Universe? Okay, time for a reality check and not getting totally ahead of myself, but still, competing would be really cool!
After weighing these options, I came to the conclusion that I really wanted to compete, but my biggest concern was how it would look for work. I explained to my supervisor that I hadn’t committed yet, but I was offered the opportunity to compete, and I wanted to make sure it would be ok for HR reasons. She was beyond excited, said it would be fine for HR, and eagerly gave suggestions about what to wear. The next day, she said, “Are you gonna do it?” I said, “Yes, but I haven’t paid my registration fee yet.”
That night, I paid my $295 registration fee and completed my contestant agreement. Even though I received the confirmation email, part of me still didn’t feel it was real.
Was I really going to be like Hannah Brown and Caelynn Miller-Keyes from The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, and Bachelor in Paradise?
While I was looking up what to wear, I was not making any purchases until I received my state finalist packet. There was different competition attire for the Miss and Teen divisions. As a Miss contestant, I would be wearing a black cocktail dress for the opening dance number and introduction, swimsuit, and evening gown. Contestants also need an outfit for the private interview, and I was not planning to purchase something new. The interview attire was described as something that reflected our personality and could be casual or business attire. Although I had many options that would be appropriate, I was a bit torn on the direction of my interview outfit. Based on the wardrobe reference sheet in the contestant handbook’s description of casual or business attire, my initial thought was wearing a dress that I would wear to the office or a job interview suit. While that was the description, the outfit samples that corresponded with the description left me feeling confused. While a few dresses were business-appropriate, the other outfit samples were off the shoulder jumpsuits and jumpsuits with a low-cut neckline, something I would never consider wearing in the workplace. I decided to watch videos of former contestants regarding interview attire and came to the conclusion that my interview outfit would be unique and work appropriate, but not at all business-like.
The swimsuit criteria entailed a one or two-piece solid-colored swimsuit that fully covers your tush. The evening gown needed to be floor length and reflect a more sophisticated style for Miss contestants, while the Teen evening gowns should reflect a more youthful style. The Teen opening number cocktail dress would be any shade of pink and rather than competing in swimsuit, they compete in active wear. This active wear portion of the Teen competition required wearing black capri style athletic pants or shorts, black sports bra or black sleeveless athletic top, and black tennis shoes. As for other footwear, the only specification was for the opening number. The Miss contestants should wear a silver, gold, or black heel, and the Teens should wear a silver, gold, or nude heel.
While attire purchases were going to be fun and glamorous, the contestant sponsorship was not so glamorous. All contestants are required to obtain sponsorship of $1,495. Many contestants receive their sponsorship funds from family, friends, and businesses. Contestants are provided with a few sponsorship deadlines leading up to the pageant, along with a discount on the sponsorship by having all funds submitted by the first deposit deadline. So, those contestants like myself only paid $1,395 in sponsorship. Everyone who contributes to sponsorship will get recognized in the pageant program, and it is tax deductible for businesses.
Now that the sponsorship was paid, there was lots to do over the next four and a half months….