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My Journey Through Pageantry

When I first started competing in pageants, I thought about how fun it would be to win a pageant, since I loved EVERYTHING modeling, fashion, and makeup, I figured it would be a great fit for me. I competed in pageants as a young girl but at that time I did not understand how impactful they were. 

My mom entered me in a modeling contest at a local formal wear store close to my hometown, Tifton, Georgia.   This is where I began my true passion for pageantry.  Michelle’s Formal Wear, located in Adel, Georgia, peaked my passion and I competed in my first true pageant at NAM, National American Miss, GA was 14. This is when I began to realize that I LOVE everything about pageantry. But maybe this system was not right for me. I still felt as if something was missing. I loved pageantry but I still felt like something was off. Now I began searching and searching trying to find a system/organization that fit “Maggie,” then I found USA National Miss.

Mrs. Jackie messaged me on Facebook asking me if I was interested competing on a state level. I started looking into UNM more and more. I started watching the past years competitions on pageants live, for 5 hours straight one day. Yes, 5 hours straight…then I began digging deeper and deeper into the true message behind UNM. I started to fall in love with this system. It started to feel like this system fit me perfectly. UNM is very fashion forward, helps/teaches others (as well as prevents bullying) through the Crown CARES, they want to build relationships through positive pageant, etc. I could go on and on about how many positive messages Mrs. Jackie wants all queens, state and national, to get across during their reign.

For people that are not familiar with pageants, they commonly assume that pageants give girls negative self-esteem and the message to be perfect. That is so far from the truth! The girls that compete in pageants are my best friends.  They are kind, intelligent, trustworthy, and some of the best people I have ever met. I quickly realized how truly blessed I was to build friendships with not only the girls I was competing with but also the pageant directors, my coaches, and hair/makeup artists.  They are some of my biggest fans not only at pageant competitions but everyday life experiences.   

In fact, I recently had the opportunity to cheer on my best friend at Georgia High School in October 2020, Ashlin Meadows.  I met Ashlin when I was chosen as a Model for Michelle’s Formal Wear.  Since that time, we have grown to become the best of friends, literally sisters, I have a dresser drawer at her house, and she has one at mine.  We support each other not only in pageantry but also in everyday life.  I was so very proud and excited when Ashlin’s name was called as the new 2020 Georgia High School Queen. You know I will be there cheering her on in Little Rock on June 26, 2021 which just happens to be my 16th birthday. I failed to mention that Ashlin was crowned on her 16th birthday weekend.  How ironic that she will be competing for the National title on my 16th birthday!! I’m pretty sure every girl will want their name called on their 16th birthday…and hopefully their besties too!

Next weekend I will be walking in her Charity Fashion Runway Event and will have my online boutique pop-up, MerciGrace, where I will donate a portion of my sales to Ashlin’s Charity.  This event will raise money for Called to Care, a foster care program in the local area.  As the CEO of MerciGrace Boutique, I am always looking for ways to give back to my community and I am so excited to be able to support my bestie by giving back to her Charity Fashion Event.

I have competed in various pageant systems in the last year and half.  These include local pageants in my area and some amazing Georgia systems Georgia High School, Georgia UNM and as I write this, I am competing at UNM Nationals this week for their 10-year anniversary.  I have met some new friends this week so far, but I am also competing with some of my biggest supporters as well.  I wish them all the best of luck as we cheer each other on during the rest of the week. 

My greatest takeaways from pageantry are the lives we are all able to impact by building relationships, supporting and reaching other girls through positive experiences, educating others that negative pageant vibes are the farthest from the truth, sharing the awesome experiences from pageantry, helping to build confidence in girls and last but not least sharing the message of kindness through my love of pageantry. These will always be my greatest takeaways from competing in these systems and that is what positive pageantry is all about.