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What Pageant Should You Compete in Based on Your Dress Size?

Photo: Miss America Organization
Photo: Miss America Organization

Read: Pageant Planet Responds to “What Pageant Should You Compete in Based on Your Dress Size”

Almost every pageant organization claims it is accepting of all shapes and sizes, but when you look at current and past titleholders, you see a very different reality. Each pageant system is unique and each one seeks something different from its contestants. No matter what your size, there is a pageant out there that is perfect for you. The important thing is to do your research and discover which one will be the right fit for you. (Read: What to Look For in a Beauty Pageant)

Sizes 00-2

A woman with a thin physique would thrive at pageants like Miss USA, Miss Teen USA or Miss United States. These pageants look for tall girls with modelesque figures. Miss Teen USA contestants must be at least 14 and under the age of 19 whenever at the time of competition. Miss USA contestants must be at least 18 and under the age of 28. Miss United States contestants must be between the ages of 20 and 29.

Miss USA is always very slim and toned. Despite a change in ownership in recent years, this is one fact that has yet to change. Though slimmer figures are the norm in the Miss USA pageant, here and there we see contestants breaking the mold.

DeAnna Johnson, Miss Georgia USA 2017, gained a lot of media attention due to her fuller hourglass figure. She was predicted by many pageant experts to be a semifinalist, but she fell short of making the top 10 at the televised event. Though I’m sure the judges acknowledged Johnson as beautiful, they chose 10 semifinalists that fit the traditional mold of a Miss USA.

Many people criticize the Miss Universe Organization for choosing titleholders that resemble (or sometimes actually are) models. These people often fail to realize that the Miss Universe Organization is a company like any other company. The judges know the brand and they know what has worked in the past. There is a place for tall women who resemble models in the pageant world, and for the girls who don’t fit the USA mold, there is a system for them as well. (Read: The Best Swimsuit Styles for Your Body Type)

Kára McCullough, Miss USA 2017 Photo: Benjamin Askinas/WME IMG via Getty Images
Kára McCullough, Miss USA 2017. Photo: Benjamin Askinas/WME IMG via Getty Images

Sizes 00-6

Miss World, Miss Earth, Miss America, and Miss America’s Outstanding Teen are great organizations for girls sizes 00 to 6 to consider. Miss America and Miss Earth has a swimsuit portion of the competition and Miss America’s Outstanding Teen and Miss World has a fitness portion, but they are not necessarily looking for model body types. They are looking for healthy girls who can be advocates for healthy lifestyles while still being relatable to the average girl. Miss America contestants must be between the ages of 17 and 24. Miss America’s Outstanding Teen contestants must be 13 to 17.

Mallory Hytes Hagan, Miss America 2013, was made fun of by several people because of her weight. Hagan had worked extremely hard to be in shape and to be a great representative, yet she still faced bullying. These viewers failed to realize that like the Miss Universe Organization, the Miss America Organization has a brand as well. It looks for all-American girls who will be relatable to the average person.

Hagan, despite this criticism, is a very well like and memorable Miss America. She fit the mold of a Miss America by being the healthiest version of herself and by being a role model to people across the country.

Have you seen Hagan in the news lately? She is taking a stand for the Miss America Organization in light of the email scandal she is involved in. (Read: Miss America 2013 Calls for Organization Reinvention)

Cara Mund, Miss America 2018 Photo: AP Photo/Noah K. Murray
Cara Mund, Miss America 2018. Photo: AP Photo/Noah K. Murray

Sizes 00-12

National American Miss, American Pageants, and other systems like them are great pageant for girls of any size. National American Miss does not include a swimsuit portion. The swimsuit competition is a common reason plus sizes girls decide not to compete. They often feel their body is not the pageant norm and discourage themselves from giving it a try.

National American Miss is accepting of all sizes and sees beauty as a poised young lady. National American Miss has a wide variety of age divisions from National American Princess to National American Miss. (Read: Top 10 Tips to Succeed at National American Miss).

American Pageants, formerly known as Miss Teen of America, doesn’t have a fitness or swimsuit portion therefore girls of all sizes win this system. There are also several age divisions, ranging from age 7 to age 24.

American Pageants 2018 titleholders. Photo: American Pageants
American Pageants 2018 titleholders. Photo: American Pageants

Sizes 12-24+

Plus-sized girls are the least represented in pageantry. Girls in this size range should consider National American Miss and American Pageants. These pageants are accepting of all sizes and do not include swimsuit competitions, a common reason plus-sized ladies may choose not to compete.

If you have ever been discouraged from competing due to not having a stereotypical pageant body, I urge you to reconsider. Pageantry needs representatives of all shapes, sizes, backgrounds and ethnicities. By having the confidence to compete, you will inspire other girls who perhaps have the same hesitations as you. By having the confidence to compete, you will inspire other girls who perhaps have the same hesitations as you.

National American Miss Tennessee Teen court Photo: Brandi Davis
National American Miss Tennessee Teen court. Photo: Brandi Davis

When it comes to pageantry, size really isn’t an issue. There is a place for everyone! Do your research and find the system that you feel is right for you. Just because you didn’t succeed in one system, doesn’t mean you won’t succeed in another. Maybe it just wasn’t the right one for you. One thing that pageantry will teach you is who you are and what you stand for.

I hope you find the best place for you and never get discouraged.

Which dress do you like better?

11 thoughts on “What Pageant Should You Compete in Based on Your Dress Size?

  1. I competed in a local prelim for Miss America as a size 16 and did well. Don’t let dress size hold you back, be comfortable in your own skin and the healthiest version of yourself!

  2. Well, this is insulting to all the curvey young ladies that compete in pageants. According to the CDC, the average woman in 2010 was 5 ft 4 in tall at 166.2 pounds.

    Ashley Graham, that’s beauty, curves and brains…. she should be a Miss America board member.

  3. Your dress size does not depict how well you do in a certain system. If a pageant system chooses their winners by the measure of their weights, then they are not truly a pageant. A pageant should uplift women of all ages, shapes, and sizes. GIRLS!!!! Do NOT let this website tell you what system you “should”. Compete in. Personality and service trumps dress size😘

  4. The Miss Plus America Pageant is a the longest standing traditional pageant exclusively for plus size women in America (sizes 14+)It now has a sister pageant, Miss Plus World (sizes 12+), that reaches across the nations. http://www.missplus.world

  5. This article leaves out so many wonderful pageant systems…….Miss Nationwide is one such that has NO size requirements. Any and all are WELCOME to compete, interview and personal platform are most important!

  6. For this to be a pageant website, they are very limited in their knowledge of great systems beyond these few they mention. Must be the systems that pays them the most money for ads.

    1. Hi Jan,

      This article not meant to be a comprehensive listing of every pageant that currently exists. Our pageant directory helps with that.

  7. I’ve had concerns with this website for years, and this all but confirms my feeling that this site has little to no true understanding of pageantry. As a former plus-size titleholder who has also competed in non-plus pageants, it makes no difference either way. Confidence, poise and style have no size. If this is the messaging you want to put out there, then I hope some directors will finally see this site is bogus and stop giving it more credibility than it deserves.

    1. Hi Colleen,

      I’m genuinely curious why you have had concerns about PP for years?

      Regarding the message of this article here is what Tasha Haskins said about it on FaceBook, “Sorry I had to say it again as a former Miss Plus America and Miss American Beauties Plus, a woman who LOVES the pageant industry and I strive to compete in mainstream pageants I actually appreciate their blunt honesty about the dark quiet perception of size and pageantry.

      The day one of you directors in the Miss USA system or another prestigious mainstream system actually CROWN a woman that wears a double-digit size I personally will come shake your hand and then be “offended” by an article like this, but the fact that you willingly take the money of women of all sizes does not make you a saint it’s misleading, and it’s wrong, but I guess it’s a business right? and then what, let me guess they’re “building confidence” because as plus size woman “we have to build our confidence”
      God forbid we ALREADY HAVE the confidence, I know I do!

      I competed in a pageant that I’ll leave nameless in 2009 I was the only plus size contestant and one of the judges in the actual interview told me “you are great, I love your answers, you are well spoken but the world is just not ready for a big beauty queen” and he low-balled my scores. (I still made top-8 btw)

      This happened to my face and it’s on camera.

      It’s kind of like racism ever wants to act like it doesn’t exist and then when it’s brought out in the light we get offended maybe we should change it maybe one of you directors should actually tell your judges fitness and health looks all different sizes and that’s what I want you to look for it and see what happens!”

  8. Your website has, for years, posted articles written by people with limited knowledge and information, often disregarded legitimate pageants in listings or “rankings” and have had questionable coaching options and practices. This article is an example as there are systems where size doesn’t matter and they are not listed here. If the article had been researched and written clearly enough, you would not have to post a statement clarifying what you really meant and offending people in the process. This is an example of not being the authority in pageantry you claim to be.

  9. Very narrow minded article. We just had a miss California USA a few years ago who was a size 4-6. And look at Miss Canada Universe! Semifinalist and a curvy body. If anything I would encourage the opposite of what this article suggests. I would encourage women of all sizes to compete in all pageants! How are they gonna ever crown a “different sized” girl if none enter?

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