Four panels of judges. Eight competitors. Four categories. All wishing to be crowned with the victory title of their choice. The Miss Portales Pageant sounds like the perfect opportunity for catty fights and arguments over low-carb meals.
Fortunately, this pageant was nothing like Miss Congeniality. Instead, motivation, mutual respect, compassion, and brains abound — leaving the small audience with its eyes peeled to the beauty held within each woman.
Although any female can (and is encouraged to!) take part in the pageant, Kathy Paiz, director of the Miss Portales Pageant and head secretary of the College Success Program (CSP) at Eastern New Mexico University (ENMU), states that the only requirement to participate is that each contestant must raise $100 to donate directly to the Children's Miracle Network, Miss Portales Organizations charity of choice.
The five young women that won included Ashley Moseley as Miss Sandoval County, Rene Smith as Miss Eastern New Mexico, Brandie Blair as Miss Sacramento Mountain, Leah Taylor as Miss Portales, and Alexis Cupps as Miss Roosevelt County. All won a $250 scholarship, a pageant title, and have found the platforms they need to help raise their voices in the community.
According to Leah Taylor, a senior psychology major at ENMU, her crowning as Miss Portales will have a big impact on both her personal life as well as the Portales community.
“It’s such an amazing opportunity to be able to take my platform, Ready-Set-Serve, to the next level in empowering today's youth to get out and volunteer,” said Taylor.
Rene Smith, a sophomore majoring in psychology, has the same idea about her newfound title as Miss Eastern New Mexico.
“I chose Eastern New Mexico because it’s such a broad area, and I’m really involved in the community. It’s a great opportunity to give me the platform to dig deeper into community service in this area,” said Smith.
While each girl was judged on their private interview questions (25%), on stage question (20%), lifestyle/fitness (10%), artistic expression/talent (30%), and poise/evening gown (15%) segments, Kathy Paiz agrees that the goal for what each title holder does next isn’t about spray tans and Listerine smiles.
“What we would like for them to do,” said Paiz, “Is support their platforms, because they all have some kind of charity that they are working towards.”
Local obligations are on the list of goals as well.
“We also want to make sure that they’re advocates for the Miss Portales area, have them be involved in nursing homes, donate their time doing community service, and we just want them to be intelligent and caring,” said Paiz.
Even with pure intentions, biases towards pageants continue to infest civilians, filling their minds with a vicious image.
In reality, it was said over and over that there were absolutely no malicious feelings between the competitors and that each girl helped and cheered one another on throughout the event. The interview questions were important ones (not ones about perfect dates) and the talent portion shone a glowing light on just one part of each contestants inner beauty.
So, what is the next step for these women?
The Miss New Mexico Pageant will be held in June 2017, right here in Portales. Go out and support, Greyhounds! The next Miss America could be in green and silver.
“Any kind of skin is beautiful. Any kind of shape is beautiful,” said Smith.
Let us let women, especially the ones closest to home, know that they are beautiful inside and out — not with their differences, but because of their differences.