Two months ago I competed in the Miss Colorado USA pageant. This was a first for me- new pageant system, new state, and a few years out of the pageant game. Many of you know that I have competed for several years in the Miss America Organization. Pageantry has shaped me to be the person I am today. Trying something new with the Miss Colorado USA Pageant was scary but also exciting. It had been 3 years since I stepped onto a stage… I missed the aspects of preparation and friendships that are formed through an experience like this. A spur of the moment decision led me to applying for the Miss Colorado USA pageant six months before the competition date.
What I did to Prepare for a Miss USA Pageant
There are three areas that you’re judged on in a Miss USA pageant… interview, swimsuit, and evening gown. It’s important to do your best in all three areas. This is so that you score high enough to be in the Top 15 and can continue on to finals night. A lot goes in to preparing for a pageant. Here’s a glimpse at what I did to prepare for Miss Colorado USA.
Miss USA Swimsuit Prep
Prep was a shock to my body to say the least! After COVID lockdown, I had put on the quarantine 15… I weighed in at 165 pounds in February- the heaviest weight I’ve ever been in my life. It’s important to point out that I never thought I was “fat”. However, as a former competitive dancer and active person, this weight shocked me. I knew that if I wanted to do well, I needed to focus on my diet and exercise. Between 7am workouts and limiting carbs and sugar, I was able to compete at a healthy 135 pounds! I might not have been the most in-shape woman there, but I am extremely proud of myself considering where I started.
Another aspect of pageant prep is perfecting your interview skills. I had the pleasure of working with C. Reece Consulting to make sure I felt confident in my interview. There have been several pageant interviews in the past where I left the room crying. I’ve even shed a few tears during an interview in the past (which I would not recommend, its super embarrassing). This time, my interview felt different. I left the interview room elated knowing that I had showed the judges exactly who I am! It’s such a great feeling knowing that your hard work and preparation has paid off! I felt amazing about my interview during the Miss Colorado USA pageant. In fact, it was the best pageant interview I’ve ever had.
Walking and Posing
Swimsuit and evening gown are judged on stage during the pageant. I used a large mirror in the garage to practice walking in my heels. Posing is important too, because you need to choose poses that are the most flattering to you. Chloe from C. Reece Consulting helped me create a walking and posing routine that flattered me and my outfits for these phases of competition. I practiced walking and posing on my own 2-3 times a week to make sure I knew exactly what I was doing. Practice makes perfect, which is why I was so dedicated the 6 months leading up to Miss Colorado USA!
Power of Pageantry Workshop
Another way I prepared was by participating in the Power of Pageantry Workshop. Once a week via Zoom, a group of pageant hopefuls got together to learn from leaders in the industry. We learned about all things swimsuit prep, walking and posing, interview tips, what it’s like to be a state titleholder, and so much more. I learned things about pageants that I never knew before even though I had been competing for years. This workshop also held me accountable for my prep because it was something to look forward to once a week. The knowledge and friendship I gained during this workshop will stick with me for many years to come!
Since it had been several years since I competed in a pageant, I needed a fresh headshot. I found out that Brittany Link Photography was hosting a photoshoot day in Denver, so I jumped on the opportunity. I love how my headshots turned out and Brittany captured ME in the photos. The hair and makeup by Emerie Jones Artistry was definitely a plus. After my headshot session, I immediately booked Emerie to do my hair and makeup during pageant weekend.
On Stage at a Miss USA Pageant
For those of you who have never walked on stage in front of hundreds of people in a swimsuit and 6 inch heels, let me tell you… behind the smile you’re praying that you won’t slip and fall!! I had a moment of stress during swimsuit, but held it together and kept both feet on the ground. After that heart-pounding moment, I texted everyone I knew in the audience to ask if my bobble was noticeable. I didn’t want to leave any room for mistakes during this because I had worked SO hard to be there. Thankfully, all of my friends and family are incredibly supportive and let me know that it was not noticeable and that I should focus on evening gown.
My evening gown was a gorgeous green sequined gown with low back and high slit. I am looking for a holiday gala that I can wear this gown to again because it is stunning! I felt extremely confident about my evening gown performance and left the stage beaming. If anything went wrong during swimsuit, I felt like I had recovered during evening gown. All three phases of preliminary competition were over, and it was out of my hands! I could barely sleep that night because of the excitement and possibilities.
Finals Night and Beyond
Finals night was the moment we had all been waiting for. Everyone on stage wanted a chance to be the next Miss Colorado USA, but in order to do that, you need to score high enough to be in the top 15. Unfortunately, I did not place in the top 15 this time. It was a big disappointment for me because I worked hard and focused on this opportunity for the past six months. Not to mention, being a state titleholder has been a dream of mine since I was in middle school. I wanted it SO badly, but it wasn’t in the cards for me that weekend. It’s heartbreaking to not achieve your dream. But it’s also an opportunity to grow and learn from a challenging experience.
I was in a funk for a while after the pageant and didn’t want to talk about it, but now that I’ve had a few weeks to think about my experience, I can confidently say that overall it was an amazing one. The journey of self love, self discovery, and overcoming things that make me self-conscious can’t be discounted. There’s nothing like a pageant to help you discover more about yourself! I left the Miss Colorado USA pageant feeling more confident than I had in years, with a new healthy lifestyle and positive outlook that I didn’t have before.
A lot of my friends have asked me if I’ll compete in a pageant again. Right now, my answer is a solid MAYBE. I love many parts of pageantry, but it’s also hard. I’m always up for a challenge, and it wouldn’t surprise me if I was back on stage next year 😉 but for now, I’m enjoying post-pageant life and remaining thankful for the experience.
If you’re still reading this, thank you for the support and love I received from you during preparation and pageant weekend this year. It means the world to know that I have such a supportive community standing behind me in everything I do. Thank you for being here no matter what!
much love, Ashley Marie