We often talk about the sisterhood of pageantry, but as systems are starting to expand age ranges beyond the staples of Teen and Miss, we are seeing an emergence of mentoring.
Mentoring is described as, “A relationship between two people with the goal of professional and personal development. The ‘mentor’ is usually an experienced individual who shares knowledge, experience and advice with a less experienced person or ‘mentee.’” (Mindtools.com)
This relationship is especially important if you live in an area where pageants are not big and pageant coaches are hard to come by. While the internet certainly helps shrink certain gaps today, such as Pageant Planet’s VIP Coaching program, nothing really beats having a mentor from the same system or close by.
Why Mentoring is Important in Pageantry
1. Younger girls have positive role models to look up to.
Pageant systems have traditionally held Teen and Miss divisions and at times dip into lower age divisions allowing the Teen and Miss titleholders to become big sisters and role models to younger girls.
But where does that leave them? Miss contestants are often navigating young adult life, being a titleholder, and emerging into adulthood without much guidance from anyone anywhere. When a pageant has Ms. and Mrs. divisions and even Miss divisions that spread a broader age range to include those already in established careers, they are able to offer that missing piece to Miss contestants and guide them not only in pageantry but in life.
If is also important for children to understand that just because someone is older, doesn’t mean that they no longer have any worth or value. At the same time, it is beneficial for elderly to spend time with children as it actually helps keep them active and cognizant.
American Royal Spirit Pageants is able to promote mentoring in the system due to the expansive age range and inclusive divisions, with a policy that all ages are welcome.
Yes, you read the right. There are divisions for ages 3-40+. Meaning that great-grandmas, grandmas, moms, aunts, cousins, daughters and siblings can all participate in the same pageant. How awesome of a girls’ weekend would it be to spend it competing with each other?
This wide age range means women and girls of all ages get to make new friends, offer advice and give encouragement to those younger and older and be there for each other in multiple stages of life. This is especially helpful if contestants don’t have family close by, and it fills in the gaps if they are missing relatives in that age range in their own families. Sometimes, you just need advice from Grandma after all. (Read: How to Use Your Age as an Advantage in Pageantry)
2. Contestants with special needs fit right in.
In the past, children and families with special needs were often excluded and society wasn’t sure how to cope and understand their dynamics. But as autism and other disabilities rise, it’s important for contestants of all ages to spend time with those who have disabilities to be able to understand them and the struggles of their families.
As titleholders, they can be the example in their communities by celebrating the abilities of those with special needs rather than emphasizing their disabilities. After all, many disabilities don’t go away with age, so we need to be understanding and accepting of them no matter how many candles are on our birthday cakes. (Read: Beauty Queen Competes in State Pageant With Cerebral Palsy)
It also gives those with disabilities the chance to interact in a “normal” environment and have interactions they might not be fortunate to get in school and society if they are unable to be in an inclusive classroom. The pageant experience and fellow titleholders can help with their therapies and help them with their interactions outside of pageantry by initially getting the chance to interact with each other under the commonality of the pageant.
While society is adapting and offering sensory-sensitive movie showings, theatrical events and even club nights, we still have a long way to go and having titleholders who interact with each other simply as fellow titleholders and support each other no matter their abilities could go a long way in accomplishing this.
American Royal Spirit hosts a Sweetheart division for those with special needs.
While in other systems seeing a girl with a disability is rare, American Spirit Pageants celebrates these special contestants not with their own pageant, but with their own division alongside their fellow contestants.
This gives contestants who may not come in contact with those with special needs often the chance to see what they are capable of and how they share the same interests and similar goals despite their differences and work together to achieve them.
3. Your pageant sisters are always there for you.
A mentor isn’t just someone you spend time with for a moment and then move on at the end of the year. They are supposed to be someone you can refer back to in times of need.
This does go both ways, certainly, as sometimes our older generations seek fresh insights and explanations from our younger generations. Being there for each other in a mutual, nonjudgmental environment makes all of this possible. Whether it’s helping with career and life advice or how to handle appearances with work and school, having a mentor in a fellow titleholder can be a lifesaver during your reign.
You never know when you’ll need a bridge to get over a river, so don’t burn any.
At American Royal Spirit, titleholders are welcome to stay on as ambassadors after their reigns are over.
Just because your reign is over, that doesn’t mean your job is necessarily done. American Spirit Pageants encourages its titleholders to stay on as ambassadors to not only promote the pageant and support current titleholders through their reigns but to continue their work in their communities and beyond. (Read: Pageant Question About Volunteering)
Because of this relationship, titleholders have stayed on and continued their work in their communities and mentoring titleholders. Some queens have stayed with the pageant for over 15 years, creating a family atmosphere around the pageant itself. (Read: How to Be the Best Big Sister Queen)
A system that serves together, stays together, and one that supports itself from the inside, shines on the outside. It’s always helpful to have someone who has been there done that to reach out to as a pageant contestant and titleholder, and American Spirit Pageants really supports these efforts.
To get involved in this special system, contact American Spirit Pageants for more information. Nationals will be held October 21-22, 2017, in Gurnee, Illinois, and entry is just $300.
The pageant is part of the Northern Illinois Scholarship Program and features optional competitions including Talent and Red, White and Blue Fun Fashion.
Good luck, ladies!