From Miss USA and Miss America to Miss Universe and local beauty pageants, it’s safe to say the land of pageants is probably never going away anytime soon. But have you ever stopped to realize what truly goes on for these competitions? There have been countless horror stories of what contestants have experienced from feeling icky by “creepy” Donald Trump (before his presidency and what not) and of course feeling like it was completely acceptable to not eat during the entire journey and what it took to even get to that point.
For some ladies, their moment of horror came after they scored their title and decided to make a mistake or two that was absolutely unacceptable in the eyes of pageant coordinators. Pageants might have a glorious reputation when it comes to the glitz and glamour that is shown for multiple competitions, causing teenage girls to ask their parents, “Where do I sign?” but at the same time they are given an extremely bad rap for the pressure they put on girls to be accepted and bring their country, state, and city the ultimate title. Once one gets past the hairspray and makeup and weaves and wigs, it might be hard to think about the best way to achieve world peace. Still, it seems to be the way of the land here. So now girls have no problem speaking out about their experiences as a pageant queen — no matter how crazy or bizarre their backstage time might have been.
15. Brooke Breedwell’s Regrets
Former beauty queen Brooke Breedwell probably couldn’t wait until she was out of the pageant life so she could really tell her story. Breedwell, who had won 75 US pageant crowns since before she was even five, opened up about the extreme makeup, hairspray, and even fake teeth and tanning sessions, and said during an interview with Anderson Cooper, “There is the fact that my mom did push me, but no matter what, if you look back on pageants, that is just not a normal lifestyle for a kid.” She also admitted she is still living out the pressures of being a beauty queen even though she’s an adult. “I feel the need to be perfect at everything, and I know that’s not realistic. You can’t be perfect at everything. I was just there wanting to be my best. I wanted to beat all the little girls, no matter what it took out of me.” I don’t think she’s alone in that thought.
14. Miss Puerto Rico’s Secret Thoughts Become Public?
Miss Puerto Rico 2015 had to apologize after some of her once private anti-Muslim comments became public. It happened when Michael Moore shared a photo at Trump Tower and wrote, “We are all Muslim.” Apparently Destiny Velez had an issue with this and shared her own message in his comment section. “Muslims use our constitution to terrorize USA & plant gas stations. There are NO comparison between Jews, Christians & Muslims. Jews nor Christians have terrorizing agendas in their sacred books… all what Muslims have done is provided oil & terrorize this country & many others!!!!” Of course she has since deleted the tweet but not before the Miss Puerto Rico Organization gave her a permanent suspension. “I apologize to the people I have offended with my words,” she wrote. “I am first and foremost an #UpStander and as such I stand up against bullying.” She did what most celebrities do and offered an apology to anyone she “offended.”
13. Ashleigh’s Scary Journey To Miss Cali USA
One girl named Ashleigh found out the Miss USA pageant wasn’t what it seemed to be on television. After discovering how expensive it is to really compete for Miss California USA, she met recruiter Domingo Rodriguez in an apartment in a sketchy part of town. Rodriguez, who was known as being a “smooth talker” vowed to help get Ashleigh sponsors for her journey. He told her to send photos of herself to an AOL email address and when she did, another woman contacted Ashleigh before she was coerced into sending a nearly nude photo of herself to Rodriguez. The Miss USA organization cleared Rodriguez so Ashleigh felt comfortable meeting him at Starbucks and even getting into his car. He told her that she would have to get physical with him before they moved any further together. She was able to escape but was told because he didn’t force himself on her, she didn’t have a case with the local police department.
12. No Israelis Allowed?
The Miss Universe pageant might be one that is supposed to be full of inclusion and bringing together various walks of life but Miss Lebanon, Saly Greige, and Miss Israel, Doron Matalon, learned the hard way what a selfie can do to them when it comes to representing their countries. The two ladies sparked so much controversy when they posted a selfie together, considering Lebanon had banned residents from interacting with people from Israel. It looks like that includes selfies. As for the behind-the-scenes drama, Greige later claimed that Matalon chased her down for a photo op. Greige’s agent even went as far as saying that the Miss Lebanon queen had to “run away” multiple times because Matalon was so “desperate” to get a photo with her. They are convinced that Matalon had this plan going on for months to get a photo with Greige. Ultimately, Miss Israel got her way when she snuck into a photo that Miss Lebanon was taking with Miss Japan and Miss Slovenia.
11. What Happened After Steve Harvey’s Moment?
We all remember the moment the Miss Universe pageant made, well, headlines in 2015 after host Steve Harvey accidentally crowned Miss Colombia with the crown when the winner was really Miss Philippines. Well thanks to SnapChat, there were clips of what the backstage reaction was really like when that moment happened. One Snap even showed the reaction of people backstage as Harvey left the stage. Let’s just say there was no reaction as everyone was still in shock. Apparently the drama ended outside as well when people rioted in the honor of Miss Colombia and the nation. One person even snapped, “They just announced the wrong Miss Universe and everyone is freaking out!” Interestingly enough, just moments before the upset, someone snapped Harvey saying he didn’t care who took home the title as long as one of the girls from a country married his son and took their last name.
10. Donald Trump’s Uninvited Entrance
Of course Donald Trump is the President of the United States, but before then he was known as a heavy hitter for the Miss USA and Miss Universe competitions. But it might not come as a surprise that some of the girls felt uncomfortable around the now leader of the Free World. Former Miss Vermont Teen USA, Mariah Billado, said that Trump walked into a dressing room while ladies, some who were teens, changed clothes. “I remember putting on my dress really quick because I was like, ‘There’s a man in here.’” But Trump told them not to worry and said, “I’ve seen it all before.” Interestingly enough, Trump later bragged to Howard Stern about moments like that. He said, “No men anywhere, and I’m allowed to go in, because I’m the owner of the pageant and therefore I’m inspecting it… You see those incredible looking women, and so I sort of get away with things like that.’”
9. “Creepy” Donnie
Another moment Trump got away with was with three girls who are also ex pageant queens but did not want their identity revealed to the public. They shared similar stories and said that they really tried to clothe themselves in the split seconds they had to get over the shock that Trump was actually standing just a few feet away from them. One of the three girls said the moment was simply “shocking” and also described it as “creepy.” The third girl actually had clothes on so she took the time to introduce herself to Trump. One girl, Temple Taggart, who is the former Miss Utah, said that Trump actually kissed her on the lips once. She was under 21. “He was married to Marla Maples at the time. I think there were a few other girls that he kissed on the mouth. I was like, ‘Wow, that’s inappropriate.’” That’s for sure. Gag.
8. Oh, To Be A Miss?
It’s no secret that Venezuela goes extra hard when it comes training the women who could be the next Miss Universe. Women told their stories in the To Be a Miss documentary that displayed the Venezuelan pageant culture — which is often described as aggressive to say the least. It has gotten so intense that many women in the nation take extreme lengths to get women not to compete for the coveted title. But that doesn’t stop people in the country grooming their children even at the tender ages of six and seven to be beauty queens. One woman reveals, “From the day they are born, most girls already want to be Miss Venezuela.” Another even explains that the pageantry is a “cult” and says, “this country would be nothing,” without the Miss Venezuela competition. Another said the women who are groomed to be the next Miss Venezuela are simply Barbies in the eyes of judges and even others in their nation.
7. Mother/Daughter Duo
One mom can’t seem to shake her pageant days, so her daughter is now in the mix. Most might know Mickie Wood’s daughter, Eden, when she was on TLC’s Toddler’s & Tiaras. Wood has admitted that she has used her daughter to relive her glory days. “I like the makeup and I like the hairspray,” Eden said herself. “Makeup makes me happy. I like being pretty on stage with my makeup on.” Thankfully Eden likes it because Wood said she has spent more than $70,000 for Eden to compete in pageants from spray tanning to photos to coaching and of course the fancy dresses that can be as much as $3,000. Wood and her family received lots of backlash for Wood’s pressure to live vicariously through Eden. Even though Eden was all for it, people online weren’t as kind when they clapped back at Wood and her alleged bad parenting.
6. Miss Texas Tells All
Former Miss Texas Krystle Russin spilled secrets about her time in the pageant circuit, circa 2008. Russin, who is now a journalist and model said, “I learned valuable information from eavesdropping in conversations among the over 100 contestants, things like the secret to losing weight in a wedding flush is Mexican laxatives you must buy online or across the border. If you spit out pizza in a trash can after each bite you won’t gain weight. Who cares if it looks really gross to onlookers? You’re saving 500 calories! I also learned how restrooms smell after a load of girls vomit after catering…” Russin’s reports of girls starving themselves for the title are nothing new. But the idea of it coming from an actual pageant girl herself is definitely a risk Russin was clearly proud to take. It looks like she’s not hoping for anymore pageant days anytime soon… or ever.
5. Miss USA’s Dream Becomes A Nightmare
Alyssa Campanella, who won the title of Miss USA in 2011, said it was a dream come true to represent her country in the Miss Universe pageant. But the harsh reality of being a pageant girl did take long to hit her harder than actually fulfilling her aspiration. She said in her book, The Secret Battle of a Beauty Queen, that it was the stresses of competing that made her lose way too much weight. Interestingly enough, she had a different type of experience when it came to the Miss Universe pageant because she was told by fans that she was too small. She even soon became known as Miss Anorexic USA. She said she tried everything such as loading up on carbs to try and gain her weight back but nothing seemed to help. Even though she made it to the Top 16 of the Miss Universe pageant, she said she still can’t look at Miss USA’s telecasts the same.
4. One Mom Finds Shock Undercover
One mom shared her story as she took her ten-year-old daughter undercover in hopes of uncovering what really goes on behind-the-scenes in pageants for young girls. “Girls as young as three are being coaxed into strappy dresses and adorned with body glitter,” Shona Sibary said of one of her first observances in the hotel conference room where the UK Cinderella Pageant was being held. “This is the latest event in a disturbing trend that is fast gaining ground in the UK and could soon be taking place in a three-star hotel near you.” She mentioned that those who place second and third receive nothing more than a “flimsy” tiara that has been “Made in Taiwan.” The rest of the contestants have gained nothing more but actually lost the expensive registration fee. She also revealed that the message of inner beauty being all that matters that is found on the pageant website is nowhere near what is executed in reality.
3. “Miss USA Isn’t Ready For Authenticity”
A contestant for Miss Massachusetts suggested that the pageant wasn’t for girls from all walks of life at all — definitely not her. For starters, Christa Brown told Seventeen magazine that she felt really pressured to not only lose weight but cover up her natural hair. So she bought a wig and despite getting compliments from other contestants, she really didn’t feel like herself. Things didn’t get any better when she went through a session that taught contestants how to get the perfect spray tan. She said they told the girls to “embrace their natural hair” but then favored girls who wore wigs and weaves. As for her fellow contestants, she said they often went to “extreme lengths” to stay skinny from “taking laxatives and water pills” to refusing to eat at all. Brown recalled that the pageant organizers “seemed to be fine” with this lifestyle and even joked about it. Unlike many other girls, Brown said she was relieved when she didn’t win. But also pointed out that, “Miss USA isn’t ready for authenticity…”
2. Do They Really Accept You For You?
Former Miss Chicago and Miss Cook County echoed similar sentiments when she competed for Miss USA and Miss America. “In both of the systems, I wore my hair straight. I wish I had worn my hair natural but there’s so much underlying pressure to assimilate,” Imani Josey told Hello Beautiful. “Just your presence is already such a political statement in itself that you don’t know how far you want to push the envelope. Plus, a lot of these girls are really young.” She also revealed that a former pageant queen told her she needed to “soften her voice.” She said she has countless stories about her experience when it came to being questioned about her religion to her athletic body shape. Still, she gave advice to other young girls who hope to compete and reminded them that it’s not about being the fastest or the smartest — instead, she said in so many ways it’s about being the most likeable, not just on the exterior but intellectually as well.
1. A Glam Squad Is NOT Allowed
A behind-the-scenes moment for Genesis Davila cost her her crown of Miss Florida USA after she was caught for allegedly cheating. Apparently, Davila was accused of getting her makeup and hair professionally done, which is against pageant rules. But it was her decision to post the moment on social media that cost her her title. She has denied the motion and even hired a legal team to file a $15 million lawsuit for defamation. But the pageant director, Grant Gravitt, Jr. is convinced that she shared a post on social media about having a pro and a glam squad get her together. Davila and her lawyers say that she actually didn’t take the picture backstage at the highly anticipated pageant but instead took it a week before. I guess there’s really no way to prove it but it looks like the pageant organizers might not care about a lack of eating but have plenty to say when it comes to who does a contestant’s makeup.
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