Do you know what gives me true joy?
Dressing to the nines and prancing around on stage while people look at me being fabulous. Another name for that?
I love pageants.
My first pageant was at age 4 in a local competition in Hammond, LA where I'm from. I wore a royal blue layered ruffle dress - with tiny petticoat! - white Mary Jane shoes and lace ruffle socks.
Y'all. I was a vision.
Apparently as I was walking across the stage with my mom (parents are allowed to walk with the littles on stage) I figured out my tiny shoes clicked as I walked, and at that point I seized the moment and turned my pageant walk into a tap dance recital.
Note: I was not a skilled tap dancer.
Fast forward 11-ish years and I decided to return to the pageant scene, but this time in a more legit, trained manner.
Starting at age 15, I competed in the USA system (part of the Miss Universe Organization) as a Teen and Miss contestant, in Louisiana and Florida, until I aged out of the system age 27. In addition to competing, I’ve been involved with the Miss USA and Miss America systems as a judge, coach, choreographer, emcee, and Director.
So collectively my pageant career has spanned the entire realm of involvement and nearly 20 years.
And up until last year I had never won a title.
I most recently have become involved with the Louisiana Fairs and Festivals pageants as a Ms. contestant. While the very visible and recognizable inter/national systems I have been involved in - Miss USA, Miss Universe, and Miss America organizations - have an age minimum and maximum, the local and state fairs and festivals pageants in Louisiana do not. In fact, one of my favorite things about being involved with this system is the inclusivity - especially in age range and body type. There is such a sense of community and sisterhood that is encouraged through these pageants.
My first festival pageant was last year, and I won the title of 2019 Ms. Pepper Festival Queen representing the Kiwanis Club of St. Martinville, LA.
After nearly 20 years in pageantry - I won my first title. And it was as a 33 year old Ms. contestant.
And I wouldn't have it any other way.
That's because there's a difference between self-confidence and self-assurance.
Self-confidence is liking yourself; thinking you're awesome. Self-assurance is having a deep and thorough understanding of who you and and where you're going, doing the developmental work, and loving yourself - not in spite of, but because of, all parts of you.
So while I've always been blessed with a healthy amount of self-confidence (I mean strutting around a stage in a swimsuit and heels in front of a theatre full of strangers as a teenager takes a bit of confidence, no?!), it took a lot more time, work, effort, struggle, and development to become self-assured.
And that is why I am proud to represent titles now, as a grown woman, who knows and loves who she is.Unfortunately I was not able to crown a successor this year for the Pepper Festival title. So many of our pageants around the state have been cancelled and postponed due to Covid, which not only affects the pageant competitions and titleholders, but the festivals, non-profits, and philanthropies connected to and supported by these queens.
Therefore, I was very excited to be back on the stage to compete for another title last week!
I am proud to be the 2020 Ms. LA Cajun Heritage & Music!