High heels or cleats?

By Nicole Duplessis

Sports play a large part in our culture. Whether we enjoy playing sports, watching sports or honestly couldn’t care less, sports will always be there. No matter if we are sport fanatics or not, we all know that any kind of sport requires a lot of time and dedication. Sports involve practicing and staying in shape. Many pageants also require the same. Is it possible that competing in pageants could be considered a sport?

Brittany Bearden, 24, from Presque Isle, Maine, has been involved in pageants for 10 years. She has been involved in many different types of pageants and held numerous titles such as: New England Royal Miss Teen 2006, Teen Miss Eastern Maine 2007, Greater Miss St. John Valley 2009, Miss International 2010, Miss Maine Collegiate America 2012, Miss Maine U.S. International 2014 (Top 15 at Miss U.S. International) and is currently Miss Maine United States 2015.

“Instead of attending practice after school for sports practice, I am at the gym working out which is just as much effort if not more than a sports practice,” Bearden said. “I think more time is put into pageants than sports because you have the time of shopping for wardrobe, working out, practicing walks, and having mock interviews.”

Pageants do take up a fair share of time, but Bearden assures not all pageants are like what is seen on television. Just like with sports, many misconceptions have been formed about pageants. Depending on which type of pageant you’re competing in determines the level of physical fitness you must present. And, depending on what type of sport you play and the level at which you play, determines the amount of pressure put on you to succeed.

“Pageants are not all about beauty, they are not all about world peace, they are not Toddler’s and Tiaras, all the girls are not mean, and we do not starve ourselves,” Bearden said. “We work incredibly hard for what we do and we do it because we love it.  We become best friends and help each other out backstage.  We enjoy working out and becoming healthy and we enjoy volunteering our time to our personal platforms to make a difference in people’s lives.  We don’t do it because we have to; it is because we want to.”

Just like sports aren’t for everyone, pageants aren’t for everyone. Bearden didn’t know it was for her until she gave it a try.

“I was going through a rough family time in my life and my mom said I needed to do something just for me and for fun, so I entered my first pageant as a sophomore in high school,” Bearden said. “I won my very first pageant and was hooked not only from the win but the experience I had and friends I made.”

It is important to enjoy what you’re involved in because it is a reflection of who you are. It is equally as important, though, to be able to balance other activities and requirements, too.

“Like sports, pageants are another outlet for a lot of young girls and women,” Andrea Perreault, the Miss Van Buren and St. John Valley pageant director, said. “Grades need to be top notch to compete like with sports, and this is another way for women to engage their beauty and minds.”

If grades falter, individuals are unable to participate in sports or in pageants. It is important to be a well-rounded individual. While it may pose difficulties at times, it is meant to create higher standards for individuals and help them strive for higher goals that will pay off in the future.

“Pageants are more expensive than sports because on top of your uniform (sports) / wardrobe (pageants), you also have the entrance fee for the pageants. But if you work hard then you can be rewarded with sponsorships and scholarships,” Bearden said.

Hard work literally does pay off in pageants, as it does in sports. While many talented athletes receive college scholarships, many pageant title-holders also receive college scholarships. While the money is great and helps with future finances, there’s more to be taken away from pageants than many people realize.

“I am able to stand up in front of a crowd of any size and speak about whatever they need me to without being afraid and be able to speak with confidence,” Bearden said. “I also have so many friends from this.”

While winning a game brings an adrenaline rush to athletes, just as winning a title or award in a pageant brings joy to contestants, in the end it’s all about having passion for what you do and gaining positivity from it.

“Pageants should most definitely be considered a sport because they are more similar than people think,” Perreault said.

Next time you see Miss USA on T.V., or are watching a college basketball game, it might just cross your mind at how much time, dedication and practice goes into both.

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