As you know by now I competed in the Miss New Jersey International 2015 pageant this weekend.
On Friday at 1.30, we arrived for Orientation. We went over the rules and typical Orientation-y things. That evening we had dinner and a meet and greet at The Chelsea, a senior citizen community. I was honored to have the chance to speak to a WW2 Vet, as well as a number of other fantastic, inspiring individuals.
Saturday morning began with my oversleep my alarms and showing up the my hair appointment 20 minutes late. Whoops. After hair and makeup, I made it to the pageant just in time for my 10.30 interview. (I will be writing more about my platform and interview later this week.)
The pageant itself started at 7 PM. I am still waiting for the official pageant photos. That being said, these are good for now. I can’t wait to get the better pictures back!
The pageant began with an opening number!
I rented this black dress with feathers from Rent the Runway. It is Elizabeth and James’s Freedom Sheath. It was the perfect size and length. I always love Rent the Runway. I have yet to have a negative experience with them.
Next, after opening number was fun fashion.
When I first heard about Fun Fashion, I was totally freaked out, completely unsure about what it meant. With the help of my pageant coach Kailee Hardy of Studio Sash, I found this wonderful dress. I feel so good about how I did on stage. I can’t wait to see the pictures from this. I got the skirt tailored to exactly my size and it moved with me so perfectly.
I paired the dress with Badgley Mischka Showstopper Earrings. Perfect touch.
Afterwards was aerobic wear. I wore a one piece outfit that I apparently didn’t take a picture of. It is the standard one piece that International Pageants requires of its contestants.
For the on-stage interview, I wore the same outfit that I wore earlier. It was a Lilly Pulitzer Candy Striper Bow Shift dress that I also rented from Rent the Runway.
After a brief intermission, the show ended with evening gown.
This photo is from after the pageant, but you can see the evening gown I wore. It is a Tony Bowls gown that I rented from Claire Hodgson a MAO competitor in Arkansas that I discovered through the @promresale Instagram account (previously @pageantresale). I got complimented on this dress all night long! I paired it with the earrings I rented from RTR and a necklace that matched perfectly from one of my pageant sisters.
Overall, I had a really great experience and I’m so glad I competed. I’m honored to have been named First Runner Up.
My Platform: Female Political Empowerment
My platform was- and still is- female political empowerment. I find it really disconcerting that we live in American where women make up 50% of the population but hold less than 20% of congressional seats.
Given the opportunity, I would have leveraged my title to run more workshops for middle school-aged young ladies to participate in the classroom more, as a beginning step to political participation.
The emphasis on platform is a large part of what separates the International Pageant system from all the others. For Teen and Miss Contestants, your interview make up 40% of your score. For Mrs Contestants, it’s 50%. This emphasis on interview and platform (and no bikini) is what attracts me to the International system. I don’t do pageants because I want to parade around in fancy clothes. I do it because I want to leverage my title to actively change my community.
“But you’re a bright girl, why would you want to do a pageant?”
And that’s exactly the problem. Yes, there are beauty pageants out there. I am not competing in those systems. Yes, there are people who are in pageants for the wrong reasons. But one bad apple should not spoil the reputation of the bunch.
I want to leverage my title to further my platform. I want to do more than look pretty on stage. Don’t get me wrong. I feel great in a dress. It feels good knowing how to walk in in 6 inch heels confidently. It feels good to feel good in your skin. Talking on stage and walking confidently are important skills for any young lady.
The International Pageant System’s emphasis on platform is absolutely amazing. That’s why I wanted to be Miss New Jersey International 2015. Now the opportunity has come and gone, and I’m okay with how it went.
My goal, obviously, was to win. But just because I didn’t, just because I don’t have a crown on my head, just because I don’t have that state title, doesn’t mean I can’t keep working. It doesn’t mean that I can’t continue to encourage young ladies to be more politically engaged.
This weekend I got to speak on stage to hundreds of people about why this was important to me. I am grateful for that opportunity. I hope they took my message home.
What comes next?
I really loved competing in the Miss New Jersey International Pageant. In case you’re not all pictured out, here’s another…
Yes, I would like to compete again. Unfortunately, I don’t know that it’s in the stars (and wallet) for me right now. Just as a PSA, the Emilie Burke’s next pageant fund is taking donations.
I’ve got a pageant on my radar that the director is really coming after me for, but the timing for it is terrible and it certainly is a lot of money. I will have to think long and hard about whether or not this is something I can do right now.
I am sure that I will definitely compete again. I just don’t know when or in what system (though, I hope to bring it back to the International system).
Until then, thanks for following this Pageant Week on the blog! I hope you enjoyed learning more about pageantry and why it can be actually something more than Honey Boo Boo.
I was very intentional in my language. Pageantry can be more than Honey Boo boo. That doesn’t mean it always is. By sharing the right side of it and encouraging women to participate in pageants with real platforms, we can help young ladies develop role models who are more than just what they look like but also what they do.
Lots of new updates coming for you and really awesome guest writers this month. Get excited!
Emilie is an Army Wife, Data Engineer, and CrossFitter with a love for working through her thoughts in this space on the internet. She lives with her husband Casey and their pup Bo in Savannah, GA.