By Izzy Pankey
When you think of pageant queens, you think of pretty dresses, a runway, and some very shiny crowns. While those are all key components, the pageant world is more than it seems. These girls spend their years volunteering, creating platforms for themselves, and overall, working to build a better community around them.
Morgan Berry, 12, is a Jenks High School student, and has been competing in pageants for almost ten years.
“I started competing as a way to get out of my comfort zone and try something,” Berry says, “now I compete to share my platform, develop better speaking and interpersonal skills.”
A platform is what a pageant queen speaks out about and what they work to accomplish while holding their title. Berry’s platform is “Power to Empower” and she uses it to educate girls on the harmful effects of self comparison and body image issues. She wants to help young girls see their inner and outer beauty.
Berry chose this platform to be able to tell younger girls, what she would have told herself when she was their age, and to help others realize the importance of their voice.
Berry not only works on her platform, but also does multiple volunteering events and such that have helped her earn her crown and be a successful queen. At back to school time, Berry took donations for Jenks elementary students and has done many other volunteer projects throughout her career.
Over Thanksgiving weekend, Berry competed at the Princess of America National Competition as Princess of America Junior Miss Oklahoma. She was first runner up in the Nation for Junior Miss, first runner up in top model, and second runner up in casual wear and crown cover.
Seeing Berry at school, you would think she was just a normal student, but actually she is a strong woman who uses her pageant success to grow and strengthen her community and young girls.
Another pageant queen at Jenks High School, is Rylee Taylor. Taylor currently holds the title for Miss Grand Lake’s Outstanding Teen, a title that feeds into the Miss Oklahoma Pageant.
Taylor had been doing pageants since she was little, but recently got back into them as a chance to represent her community,because she has fun at the pageants and meeting new people, and because it’s a good way for her to earn scholarships.
“I think my favorite experience was going to the fair last year with my other queen friends.” Taylor says, “we went to watch a pageant happening there and we all wore our crowns into the fair! And then once the pageant was over, we wore our crowns around while we rode rides. Not gonna lie, there were a few times I was afraid my crown was about to fall off.”
While Taylor had been competing since childhood, she did have to take breaks in her years of doing it. She began to take pageants personally, but had to learn that it wasn’t always about winning and that it is about how you grow between the different pageants. By changing her outlook on pageants, she was able to enjoy them more and have more fun with them.
Taylor’s platform is “Journals for Kids”. She uses her platform to raise money to purchase journals for children to use as a place to share their emotions and communicate through writing.
With her title, she gets to be in parades, judges small local pageants, works with local businesses for sponsorships, represents her community, and prepares for the state competition. Something unexpected about the pageant system is that the girls don’t just get judged on their looks and pretty dresses, a lot of it is more about their personality, community service, and even grades.
While this hard work is a big part of it, “it is really nice to be able to put on a dress and makeup and show off all of your hard work.” Taylor says.
These two ladies are just one of the many who compete in the pageant system and work to make the community better and to empower women everywhere. So, the next time you see a girl with a pretty shiny crown and dress on, posting on social media about her new title, remember the amount of work and commitment they put into it, and the amount of empowerment she is creating by holding that title.