National pageants are the ultimate end goal for almost every pageant contestant. Few lead to the international stage, but plenty lead to a national title opportunity.
We have seen the national and international stage grow in recent years, and national pageants worldwide are gaining global recognition thanks to social media.
So, who was the best of the best in 2017?
Top 10 National Pageants of 2017
10. USA Ambassador
Recognized for its commitment to community service, USA Ambassador was founded in the fall of 2010 and crowns seven age division titles and three community service titles. Prizes include various paid for trips to Miss America, Disney and a cruise, as well as a mission trip for the community service queens. (Read: USA Ambassador Hosts Pageant Benefiting Toys for Tots)
Age divisions for USA Ambassador range from Jr. Preteen, ages 7-9, to Ms., ages 26 and up. There is also a Mrs. division.
9. American Pageants
American Pageants, Inc. began in 1983 and has expanded its age divisions to grow its program. It stands out from the crowd for its commitment to being completely different from traditional pageants in that there is no swimsuit or fitness competition. Instead, contestants are judged on their scholastic achievements, community involvement, interview, poise, personal development and are given a general awareness test. Contestants are also tasked with hosting an inclusion event.
American Pageants, Inc. is no longer just for Teens. The system announced the addition of four age divisions this past year, serving girls and young women ages 7-26.
8. Mrs. America
The pageant that leads the way to Mrs. World, Mrs. America was created 42 years ago to celebrate the uniqueness of the married woman. This year, Mrs. America sent three representatives to Mrs. World with Mrs. of the Americas placing in the Top 6 and Mrs. America placing in the Top 12. (Read: Mrs. America Selects Additional Contestants to Compete at Mrs. World)
Despite being around for 42 years, it is still the Mrs. pageant that sets the standard for all other Mrs. pageants out there. It mirrors Miss America in many aspects, minus the talent competition.
To compete in Mrs. America, you must be married and at least 18 years of age.
7. Nuestra Belleza/Mexicana Universal
Responsible for selecting the country’s candidates to Miss Universe and Miss International, Mexicana Universal has been held annually since 1994 and such responsibility means it’s a standout from all others in Mexico. It is also lead by the country’s first Miss Universe titleholder, Lupita Jones. (Read: Miss Universe Mexico 2016 Evening Gown: HIT or MISS?)
Eligibility requirements to compete include having a Mexican nationality, being between the ages of 18-25 and at least 1.68 meters without shoes. Additionally, contestants must have completed school, have basic knowledge of the English language and be able to develop some sort of talent, including but not limited to singing, dancing and acting.
As with most Miss pageants, hopefuls must not have been married, not a mother and not pregnant. Another requirement? Contestants must have outstanding facial and bodily beauty.
6. Miss High School America
Possibly known for having first crowned Savvy Shields, Miss America 2017, as Miss Collegiate America 2013, Miss High School America has also featured names like Savannah Chrisley, who represented California at Miss High School America 2014. She went on to win Miss Tennessee Teen USA in 2016. (Read: Miss High School America Pageant Helps Jamaican School)
In addition to Miss High School America and Miss Collegiate America, the system also crowns a Miss Junior High School America.
The pageant is unique in its recognition of young women by the scholastic years rather than ages. A junior high aged girl is very different in maturity from a high school young lady or a collegiate woman, and these age groups are often grouped and overlapped in other systems.
5. USA National Miss
Founded in August 2010, USA National Miss boasts age divisions for girls ages 4-25. It has been featured in multiple pageant media sources and in MTV’s Made. In addition to promoting their own personal platforms, titleholders are also tasked with spreading the pageant’s national platform, The Crown CARES (Creating A Respectful Environment in Schools), encouraging bullying awareness and prevention. (Read: USA National Miss Takes Pageantry to New York Fashion Week)
USA National Miss has sought to make the reigns of their queens unique all year through special events and opportunities that get the titleholders out in front of the crowd while growing their own resumes.
4. Miss America
The one that started them all, Miss America first took place as a “Bathing Beauty Revue” on September 8, 1921, in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Years later, Miss America gave birth to Miss USA. The pageant has been no stranger to controversy over the years, from losing television contracts and sponsors to questionable state and local organization practices and email scandals.
Yet, even with 2017 ending with some startling behind-the-scenes news that could have destroyed the system, forever Miss Americas and reigning titleholders have taken the reigns to keep it and its mission to provide scholarships for young women and awareness to their platforms and the national platform of Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals alive. (Read: Miss America Reveals New Board of Directors)
All Miss America contestants first must win a local pageant and then compete at and win their state title to advance to the Miss America stage.
There has been speculation of an age limit increase. Young ladies ages 17-24 are currently eligible to compete. (Read: Possible Miss America Age Limit Increase)
Additional eligibility requirements include being a United States citizen, meeting residency requirements in a certain city or state to qualify for local and state pageants, meeting character criteria set forth by MAO, being in reasonably good health to meet the job requirements, and being able to meet the time commitment and job responsibilities set forth by the local, state and national competitions in which you compete.
3. Binibining Pilipinas
Binibining Pilipinas launched in 1964 and doesn’t just crown one titleholder; this pageant selects the Filipina representative to Miss Universe and Miss International as well as Miss Supranational, Miss Intercontinental, Miss Grand International and Miss Globe. The Filipino people are devoted pageant fans and followers and support their favorite contestants and pageant systems much like how American’s support their favorite sports teams. The system is huge in the eyes of the international pageant world, as it should be, crowning and supporting so many representatives to represent the country on the world stage. (Read: Binibining Pilipinas Contestant Allegedly Disqualified from Competition)
To qualify and meet the age ranges for most international pageants that Binibining Pilipinas serves, contestants must be between 17-26 at the time of the pageant.
2. Miss USA
Perhaps the most glamorous on the list, we have Miss America to thank for bringing us Miss USA in 1952 when Miss America 1951 refused to pose for promotional photos in a swimsuit for the sponsor. Miss Universe was held concurrently with Miss USA in 1952.
Today, Miss USA has also undergone ownership changes and some rebranding, including expanding the age limit, in recent years since being owned by current US President Donald Trump from 1996-2015. Larger states host preliminaries to the state pageants, but for the large part, you just have to enter and win your state pageant to have a shot at the national crown. (Read: What You MUST Know About Miss USA History Before Competing in Miss USA)
Miss USA is always a top contender at Miss Universe and a pageant American viewers look forward to every year. Fans want to see everything, from the often insanely glamorous photoshoots that have been toned down to be more natural in recent years to the ever-exciting crowning moment. The Miss USA contestants break the mold with unique swimsuit styles and natural hair styling, proving 2017 was the year of the girl.
To qualify for Miss USA, you must have been born between 1990-1999, and for Miss Teen USA 1999-2003.
1. National American Miss
The pageant that sends girls a letter inviting them to apply and even hosts a separate national pageant for those who placed first through fourth runners-up in the state pageant, National American Miss has exploded onto the national stage. Kira Kazantsev, Miss America 2015, even competed at NAM in 2012 and won first runner-up.
The pageant’s sisterhood is called the “NAMily,” and entire families head to Disneyland in Anaheim, California, to spend Thanksgiving and compete in optionals, required competitions and fun events throughout the week. (Read: Top 10 Tips to Succeed at National American Miss)
There are many girls who compete in NAM and it is a huge event. The hotel is crawling with girls in poofy dresses and bright smiles. The entire week is about growing as a person and any girl who says, “I want to come back next year,” before the week is even over is a pretty good telltale sign that a system has struck gold.
Girls wishing to compete in National American Miss must be between the ages of 4-20.
Interested in competing in any of these systems? Click on the system name in the paragraph to be taken to their homepage to find out how to enter. Some are gearing up for national and state events right now and appointed titles may also be available.