‘I can’t believe you actually let your daughter compete in a pageant’
‘Most mothers who put their kids in pageants are just trying to relive their own youth’
‘That’s disgusting. Imagine allowing people to judge your child on her looks.’
These are things that as a ‘Pageant Mum’ I’ve had said to my face on more than one occasion. I dread to think what people say behind my back but everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Parenting is one of those occupations where it is impossible to get it right. It doesn’t matter what choices you make for your family, someone, somewhere, will have something to say about it.
When it comes to pageantry, I am no expert. My daughter Rachel (now aged 14) competed in her first pageant at age 12. We were watching Dance Moms and immediately afterwards Kim of Queens came on. We were both struck by the personal development these girls went through in working with former Miss Georgia, Kim Gravel and her family. As a girly dancer, Rachel was all about the dresses, shoes and makeup but as a parent I was more interested in the confidence and awareness of the world around them that these girls were gaining. Then those dreaded words every parent loves to hear: “I want to do that’.
As a lone parent, living in a deprived area, on a low income who already pays out a small fortune each month in dance fees, I was loath to add another activity to our list. Especially since I prefer books to performing and could never understand why Rachel was so different! After all pageants are never free, and are seldom cheap. However Rachel was going through one of those horrible phases where she was being picked on at school so I decided to look into it a little further.
After doing some research online, we chose Face of the Globe. There were many reasons for this choice. Mainly I liked the fact that the heat was local and Rachel’s age group was actively discouraged from using any form of cosmetic enhancement. No wigs, flippers, acrylics or fake tan needed. I paid her entry fee and awaited her welcome pack.
Rachel placed 1st runner up at the Scottish heat and went on to compete at the international grand finals. She didn’t make the top ten at international finals but she gained so much from the experience that although she was disappointed not to make top ten, she was thrilled to have been a part of it all. This was Rachel’s first trip abroad. She got to make friends with girls from all over the world and learned about so many other cultures. Afterwards, Rachel kept in touch with many of her newfound friends and was even invited to the next Scottish heat as a guest. She eventually decided that the time was right to compete again.
In September 2016, Rachel (now aged 14) decided that she wanted to compete in Face of the Globe again. I was a little dubious as she would now be in the Teen age category where the girls are allowed to have tan, make up and big hair. After talking with Paula, the director of the Scottish Heat, I decided to let her compete and was somehow talked into sponsoring my 12yr old niece Katelyn to enter the junior age category.
This time around Rachel was even more determined and had her eyes firmly fixed on that beautiful blue crown. She went around local businesses securing raffle prizes for her fundraising, she did voluntary work for a local charity and spent hours rhinestoning her publicity folder and learning to walk in heels. As her Mum I am so proud of her perseverance and dedication. She really gave it her all and learned how to speak to just about anyone. She also took a lot more notice and care of her own appearance and actually brushes her hair out of its usual ‘dancer bun’ occasionally.
On the day of the Scottish Heat in 2016, Rachel was nervous but still managed to project confidence without being cocky. She made friends with all of the other girls and smiled all day. Her efforts were rewarded and she was crowned ‘Teen Face of the Globe Scotland 2017’ winning her place at the international finals in London and Disneyland Paris. Her cousin Katelyn won the Junior title, also winning her trip to the finals. Both girls also won Miss Publicity and Miss Personality.
Now preparations are in full swing for the international finals. Both girls are actively involved in fundraising for Glasgow Children’s Holiday Scheme and through bag packing, auctions and raffles, have raised almost £1500 so far. They have been interviewed on local radio and have photo shoots arranged.
Without Face of the Globe, Rachel would never have gained the confidence to champion a cause she believes in. She would never have considered fundraising for charity or getting involved in her community. This experience has boosted her confidence and shown her that other people’s negative opinions are none of her business. She has learned how to speak to people and express her opinions in a respectful way. She has learned that winning isn’t everything but trying and giving it your all is. As her Mum I am so proud of how she has gone against peer pressure and is conscious of her own self image and is focused on her goals.