I just had one of those dizzying weekends that feels more like it slapped you to next Sunday and Monday as opposed to allowing you to enjoy the official days of rest. I had an outing with my Mustang dancers on Friday, a performance with my Mustang dancers at a charity football game on Sunday, and somehow between those, I made it to Indianapolis (and back) in enough time to watch my good friend Jeniece (Miss Banks of the Wabash) compete at State (Indiana, MAO). This is what youth is for, right?
Jeniece is one of those great friends (and few people left in the world) who is just genuine and selflessly nice (aside from her startlingly lovely voice).  I had a lot of adverbs in that last sentence, but it seemed appropriate. Moving on. After all her prep, it was great watching her make Top Ten (well, Eleven if you count the People’s Choice) and take home the award for outstanding community service. I had to admire Jeniece’s sheer determination. It was such a success story: months before she was toiling to get to the competition all to become panel-certified as one of the best competitors in the entire state of Indiana. Pow.
Not only did watching her hard work pay off reenergize me for my own prep for the Miss Black Illinois USA competition, but it made me think about the gumption of a Pageant Girl. The Pageant Girl really is a competitor. Most people would associate her more with the likes of Elle Woods bouncing around in Pepto pink than competitors like Nastia Luikin or Flo Jo at the Olympics. But believe me, she is. 
Three Reasons to love being a Pageant Girl (and a competitor):
1)     Military Mind– Think you can give a Pageant Girl any advice? Yea… she already thought of your suggestions (and 10 more). When I won Miss Cook County (which houses Chicago) in 2010, my director wanted to have a conversation with me about a few things the judges wanted me to focus on before I moved to the next level. We both laugh to this day that before she got the first note out, I listed everything she was going to say and more. Sharp, introspective, strategic. That’s who she is.
2)     Cool, Calm, and Confident– A former boyfriend once told me that as a college athlete, he just couldn’t understand pageants. He went on to explain that he wasn’t fond of a form of competition that is so subjective. At least in other forms of sport, it’s clear as to why the outcome is the outcome. This contestant ran faster. That contestant scored more goals. This, he pointed out, is not always the case with pageants. But where he saw an absurdity, all I could see was an appreciation for extraordinary confidence and bravery. Where someone else would be afraid to try, a Pageant Girl is fearless enough to prepare and perfect herself despite facing the possibility of a “no” without explanation. How brave is that? She actually welcomes the growth process in the uncertainty… that on any given Sunday you may win or you may lose, but in the very least you played the game.
3)     Nude Pumps– She owns them. She works them.

Imani Josey

Imani is a writer from Chicago, Illinois. After graduating Howard University in Washington, DC, Imani received her Masters from Northwestern University. Sometime during all of that studying, she danced professionally for the Chicago Bulls as a (Luvabulls) cheerleader, and won the titles of Miss Chicago and Miss Cook County for the Miss America Organization, as well as Miss Black Illinois USA. Read her short story “North” in the forthcoming Hidden Youth anthology, out November 2016 by Crossed Genres.

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