Not a Beauty Pageant

Although I am the Program Director of Miss BC, it’s a volunteer position – which means I have a “day job” in order to actually survive the year from pageant weekend to pageant weekend. (It’s all about Miss BC, as my pageant family would say – we love June, even as it gets crazy busy. We have titleholders and volunteers who come back year after year to share this time with us, and it’s wonderful to see them and find out what’s been going on in their lives.)

I’ve never made a big deal of being involved with Miss BC, but I also didn’t realize how many of my colleagues had no idea that I was one of the organizers either. This would be irrelevant, save for this: since I’ve been chatting about what is coming up, and all the planning and work that goes into it, I’ve had several people ask me about “this beauty pageant thing.”

Miss BC is not a beauty pageant. I realize that in a world of “Toddlers and Tiaras” – and even when you look at other traditional pageants – the word “pageant” itself brings up images of women in fancy ballgowns and super-high heels, of women in bikinis posing in front of a panel of judges, of organizers searching for a certain look, a certain type of beauty.

That’s not what we’re about in Miss BC, and it’s why I am so passionate about the program we have. Our focus is not what’s on the outside; it’s what’s on the inside. Every woman is beautiful in different ways, but it’s her personality that causes her beauty to truly shine. All of our titleholders are gorgeous – but they may not fit the conventional view of a beauty queen.

We don’t have a bikini competition. Although being active is important, and we believe that role models (which is who Miss BC and all our titleholders are: role models for BC women) should be able to share what activity brings them joy, being healthy does not mean you necessarily feel comfortable in a bikini.

We focus on our workshops – on etiquette and self-esteem, on public speaking and developing interviewing skills, on self-defense and assertiveness. Unlike traditional pageants, where it’s all about the competition, we want to make sure that every contestant who enters our program takes something away from it.

We are run by volunteers, and volunteering and community involvement is the focus for our titleholders, contestants and staff throughout the year. In addition to Cops for Cancer, which is our charity of choice (and we’ve raised over $200,000 for them), we work with Relay for Life, local Terry Fox runs, the Make a Wish Foundation, and other charities and organizations that are important to our titleholders and to our volunteers.

Our focus is making a difference in the world. Our contestants are always passionate, capable, dedicated women. Our titleholders are chosen from these incredible groups of women every year. They are well-rounded, articulate women who want to make this world better for everyone.

And when I think about it that way, perhaps we are a beauty pageant. What could be more beautiful than caring and working for our world and the people in it?

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