beauty pageant crop

Double First Time: Mackenzie MacArthur (on left).

by Mackenzie MacArthur, guest columnist

It took many years, but my aunt finally talked me into entering a pageant.

I grew up playing sports with my brother and cousins, also guys. The idea of a pageant was very foreign to me coming from this background. I agreed, though somewhat reluctantly, if only to appease her. Her excitement could be felt, and she immediately began preparing my outfits, my platform, and me for this new adventure.

My mother, my aunt, and I took a trip to Concord Mills and entered the largest dress store I had ever seen. I tried on many dresses, almost too many to count, and at the end of the day I bought one of the largest ones in the store. From there we went to find clothes for the talent, interview, and fitness portions, as well as the opening dance. I had to attend a few meetings and practice the opening number with the other contestants. After about a month of planning, the day of the pageant had arrived. I got up early to get my hair and make-up done by some friends. From there I had to participate in an interview. The judges asked a lot of difficult questions, mainly about attending a private, Christian school, but I was able to answer them all. The interview lasted for eight minutes, probably the most terrifying eight minutes of my life. After that I had a photo shoot with a professional photographer. It was pretty uneventful, but the pictures turned out real well.

That night was the big night.

I arrived at the center where the pageant took place at six o’clock. My mother helped me carry all of my things to the changing room, and then I was alone. The other contestants and I practiced the opening number one more time, and then we went to the changing rooms to get ready. The opening number was first, and the theme was 1980s. We danced to the song, “Hit Me with Your Best Shot,” by Pat Benatar. Then the fitness portion took place. All that was required was that we walk around the stage in a large circle. The talent portion was next, and that was what I was most excited about. I got to play my guitar and sing, two of my favorite things to do. My talent was the song, “Little Talks,” by Of Monsters and Men.

It went along with my platform, Alzheimer’s. From there we went on to the evening gown ceremony. That was when tragedy struck.

I should’ve known from the time I put the dress on I was going to have trouble. I had to go down two flights of stairs to get to the main stage and that, although quite a hassle was not a huge problem. Once I got to the main stage, however, I had to put on my heels. They were tall to say the least. To enter we had to climb a set of stairs, and then descend another set. When they called my name for me to enter and I began ascending, I encountered a problem. My dress was much too large for the stairway. While walking up I stepped on the edge of my dress, but quickly recovered. Then I caught a large chunk and began to fall. The person who was supposed to help me up caught me before I face planted, but it was still a terrifying experience. Once I got the top, I had to walk back down, and that was another test that had to be conquered. The descending portion was much easier because there was much more space.

The rest of the pageant passed in a blur, and all I could think about was that the judges had seen me trip. When we began the crowning ceremony I was very anxious.

I stood in line with the three other girls in my division, and we waited patiently as the announced retrieved the envelope that would decide who the winner was. First, he called out who had won Miss Congeniality. The girl to my right stepped forward and accepted her crown. Then the big moment came, and of course the MC made it drag out as long as he could. Finally, he opened the envelope. He then announced that contestant number two, MacKenzie McCarthy, had won. That contestant was none other than myself.

I won despite my incident, and that was the first time I won a pageant and the first time I had even entered one.

MacKenzie McCarthy is a high school student from the Charlotte, North Carolina, area.