National American Miss Titleholders. (Photo courtesy of @nationalamericanmiss Instagram)
La Cañada High School

National American Miss — A new outlook on pageantry

The pageant organization National American Miss held their annual state pageant in Anaheim, California on June 22, 2019.

Founded in 2003, National American Miss has been dedicated to running a pageant circuit in which “growing confidence” is of the utmost importance, according to their trademarked motto.

According to the NAM webpage, they proudly represent, “a program centered around helping young ladies grow and expand their ideas about who they are and what they want to achieve.”

When speaking to Shane Tinsley, the National Event Marketing Coordinator of the company, he explained that the circuit does not use the word “beauty” on anywhere on their website, programs, merchandise, etc.

Their website corroborates off of this ideal and states that the pageant is, “based on the foundational principle of fostering positive self-image by enhancing natural beauty within.”

In the teen division of the competition (sixteen to eighteen years old), 70 young girls competed for the crown. First-timer Megan Andrews, 18, confided to me about her excitement for the weekend.

“There was a sense of sisterhood that came with this pageant as opposed to just having competitors,” Andrews said. “[When I was onstage] I felt so good about myself because they really preach the fact that you are beautiful if you feel good about yourself.”

Megan Andrews wearing her formal dress (which she sewed herself) posing with the trophies she won. (Photo Courtesy of Megan Andrews.)

Andrews performed in two entries in the optional talent category where she sang and tap danced as well as demonstrated her pep flag skills she had learned from cheer in high school. Talents ranged from playing Mozart on the piano, lyrically dancing, singing acapella and more.

Other events in the weekend’s pageant included interview, personal statement, formal wear, and casual wear.

Caitlyn Kramer, the current National American Miss Arizona who has been competing in NAM pageants for 13 years, loves the interview portion of the competition. “(It’s) always a great way to have me tell the judges a little bit about myself,” Kramer said.

One notable difference between NAM and other pageant circuits is the lack of a swimsuit competition. In many other large pageant circuits like Miss America and Miss USA, swimsuit competitions still make young women feel pressured to look a certain way by making them feel exposed.

The heart of NAM’s philosophy lies in confidence from within, meaning your outward appearance does not define the worth of each contestant.

Amber Lawson, 18, another first-timer, said she plans to attend her local community college as art major and hopes on gaining her teaching credentials. She said she felt that participating in a pageant would brew negativity and toxic competition.

“But now after experiencing it, it’s just a huge confidence boost,” Lawson said. “It’s gaining life skills. I can learn how to look people in the eye.”

The National American Miss Nationals Pageant will be held this November at the Anaheim Marriot in Anaheim, Calif. The winners from this weekend’s state pageant will move on to this competition and be able to be apart of what the company refers to as the “NAMily.”

Though portrayal of pageantry in the media may be filled with negativity and overdramatic stereotypes, National American Miss hopes to progress pageants into a more positive light with one confidence boost at a time.