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  • Shikye Alyce Smith

Why I entered a Beauty Pageant

I’m a bit of an extremist, an all or nothing kind of gal. So when I want a challenge I usually throw myself into totally uncomfortable situations and force myself to sink or swim.

In 2014 I decided I wanted to improve my public speaking skills. I have to admit that public speaking was something that terrified me beyond belief! I know it may seem odd that someone who has performed in front of thousands of people would be so intimidated by pubic speaking but trust me, it’s a thing. I have always said that if I could sing a speech I’d be fine but I didn’t think it was a very realistic solution to the problem. So in true Shikye style, I sat down and thought of situations in which I would be forced to think on my feet, answer tough questions quickly and get my point across clearly. My solution?…PAGEANTS!

At this stage the only insight I had into pageantry was thanks to my secret addiction of Toddlers and Tiaras and the 654, 479 times I had watched Miss Congeniality. The only pageants I knew of were Miss World and Miss Universe so I decided to take a stab and applied for one of the two and, to my great surprise, I was accepted into the NSW preliminary!

So this was it, I was going to compete in my very first pageant. To be brutally honest, I was prepared to be surrounded by a bunch of vapid airheads who all wanted “world peace” but didn’t actually want to do any of the hard work to achieve it. Pretty faces who had everything handed to them and who never had to face a significant challenge in their lives. Girls who asked you how to spell “orange” and couldn’t go to Taco Bell because they were on an “all carb diet.” Ok, I was quick to jump to assumptions but remember my only education of pageants until this point came from a TLC tv show and a Hollywood film!

So the big day arrived and I had absolutely NO IDEA what I was doing so I adopted my life motto of “fake it till you make it.” I did no research about the system and turned up with flat hair, a gown that was way too short and ill fitting and a multicoloured bikini that did nothing for my figure. I wore tiny drop earrings with a matching necklace and bracelet that I wore at my year 12 formal, all things that any seasoned pageant girl would never do.

I strutted my way down the runway like I belonged there regardless of the fact I had it all wrong and somehow when the all terrifying question and answer section came up I managed to speak clearly, confidently & not make a total fool of myself…success!

I progressed on to the next stage of competition and took it a little more seriously this time round. I invested in a gorgeous gown that I loved and was much more suited to this particular pageant’s style. I found a block coloured bikini that complimented my shape and skin tone and I learned the power of clip in extensions and “jacking it up to Jesus” (Toddlers & Tiaras came in handy after all). I also had more time to learn a bit about my fellow contestants, the “airheads.”

Only they weren’t at all what I had expected. They were bright young women who studied things like law and medicine. Women who volunteered within their communities and advocated for change. Women who were passionate about important causes and who wanted to use the platform to be a voice for those who aren’t heard.

The State Final was as far as I got in my pageant debut but I was still pretty darn proud of the achievement. Ultimately I decided that particular system wasn’t really for me but I enjoyed the experience overall and was inspired by all of the incredible women I had met along the way. As they say in Pageantland…I was bitten by the pageant bug!

So where to from here? Well, inspired by the women I had met so far and fuelled with the fire to make a difference to those less fortunate I competed in another pageant and this time made it to the National Final, paced in the top 15, won a talent award and raised over $11,000 for charity. My fear of public speaking was rapidly decreasing as I openly chatted about my journey and pageant experience to media outlets, friends, family and just about anyone else who would listen. Raising money for charity and volunteering filled my heart and was the most rewarding experience to date. I was super proud of how much I had grown in just a short period of time but I felt that I wasn't quite done yet and I still hadn’t found the right system for me.

Throughout my journey I met a few girls who had competed in Miss Galaxy Australia…multiple times. I thought to myself “there’s got to be SOMETHING good about this system if these girls are going back year after year!” So you guessed it, I gave it a crack.

What I loved about this system was that there was no typical “Galaxy Girl.” Every winner was so different from the one before and every contestant different from the next. There were glamorous gowns, big hair and what looked like a really warm and welcoming environment. We were encouraged to source, attend and volunteer at events in our local communities, fundraise for charity and had the opportunity to advocate for causes that were close to our heart. The pageant was all about becoming the best version of yourself and becoming a role model to those around you. I had finally found my match!

I could go on and on about all of the things that I loved and still love about the Galaxy system but I’ll save that for another post.

So what began as an exercise to combat my fear of public speaking turned into a life changing journey that has continued to open new doors 5 years on!

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