A photograph captured that precious moment as my daughter and I hugged for the first time after being crowned on the same stage.
We started this journey together last fall with our local titles and inched ever closer to the state finals. Along the way we discovered just how close we were to each other.
When talking with people, we found ourselves saying the exact same things — at the exact same time. The dresses and shoes we picked out seemed to mirror each other, even though they were bought at separate stores and at separate times.
At the state competition, we took turns standing in the wings while the other was on stage. I remember feeling tears of joy well up in my eyes when my daughter took the microphone to deliver her introduction. I was so proud of her at that moment.
Later, she told me that her proud moment came when I walked on stage for the evening gown part of the competition.
We also encountered our share of pageant stereotypes. Today’s world of pageantry has dramatically changed from that of yesteryear. Physical beauty is nice, but today’s titleholders also need to be knowledgeable representatives of their community or state. Instead of just posing for photo ops, they are often helping out behind the scenes in some way.
I have seen my daughter’s confidence and communication skills flourish as a result of competing in pageants. This helped her when she ran for student body president three years ago and had to deliver a speech in front of her peers. She won the election and became the school’s very first student body president.
The communication skills she has learned also helped her deliver oral reports in school and at City Council meetings where she represents the Youth Advisory Commission.
Tracy resident Kelli Goble, former Miss Ripon and Almond Blossom Queen, also values the skills learned through her days of competing.
“Winning a pageant is much more then looking cute,” Goble explained. “It’s also about learning to deal with the public and represent your community in a positive way. It gave me the skills to be able to deliver speeches in public and not be nervous. The experience also helped me be more confident. I’m glad I did it.”
For every plus, you may encounter a minus. Reality television shows, through shock-type reporting, can cast a negative light on a particular event or those who take part.
But this one’s for the next generation of pageant contestants: Stand tall in your convictions, believe in yourself and never give in to the negative Nellies in this world.
You are beautiful — let your light shine.
• Anne Marie Fuller is the television host of “Helpful Hints with Anne Marie,” which can be seen on Cable Channel 26 at 7 p.m. Fridays. She is also the chairwoman of the Tracy Arts Commission and was crowned Mrs. California 2013 in May. Contact her at email@example.com.