Local contestants say TV pageants bear little resemblance to reality
The reality of pageant competition is far from what's portrayed on television in shows such as “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo,” said organizers and contestants vying for a chance to wear two top crowns this weekend at the Hyatt Regency Pittsburgh International Airport Hotel.
“They say publicity is never bad, but those who work with it as a profession sometimes look at that and go, ‘ouch,' ” said Randy Sanders, state director of the Miss Pennsylvania Teen USA and Miss Pennsylvania USA pageants.
The winners — to be crowned Sunday — advance to the 2013 Miss Teen USA and Miss USA pageants, the latter being televised on NBC.
Tierra Nichelle Jackson, 17, of Aliquippa, a newcomer to pageants, said her experience has been “nothing like what you'd think it would be.”
“A lot of people think it's purely about how you look, not how smart and well-rounded you are,” she said. “It's about beauty inside and out.”
Valerie Gatto, 23, of West View, said she doesn't like the message of reality shows, which also include “Toddlers & Tiaras,” that children need so many “additives” — heavy makeup, hair extensions — to shine.
“It's supposed to shape you as a woman and help you be happy with the real you,” said Gatto, who entered her first pageant at age 4.
Deborah Craver, 33, of Weatherly in eastern Pennsylvania, is a mother of nine, including teen contestant Kayla Craver. Her six girls, ranging in age from 7 to 17, all compete in pageants. She said it's helped Kayla overcome shyness.
“Now, she's so social,” she said.
Craver said she doesn't think there is a right or wrong age to enter children in pageants — it's about “when they're ready.” While she has been at competitions where “Toddlers & Tiaras” was filming, she does not watch the show.
“I don't think they show it in a very positive light,” she said.
Western Pennsylvania was thrust into the national media spotlight last summer, and pageants were stained again, when billionaire Donald Trump, who co-owns the Miss Universe Organization, threatened to sue former Miss Pennsylvania USA Sheena Monnin of Cranberry over her claims the Miss USA pageant was rigged.
Monnin, who could not be reached for comment, was crowned Miss Pennsylvania in December 2011 and resigned in June. At the time, she claimed a fellow contestant told her during the pageant in Las Vegas that she had seen a list of the top five finishers on a planning sheet hours before the pageant, and correctly listed the top finishers. Monnin didn't make the top 15.
Monnin also cited a recent change in pageant policy that allowed transgendered contestants to compete.
This year's contestants see the controversy as part of the pageant's past, and say they're much more interested in the future.
“Honestly, anyone competing in a pageant knows it's very fair,” said Alexandra Pacinda, 17, of Cranberry. “It's such a great experience. They understand it's about being yourself.”
Rachel Weaver is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7948 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Photo gallery: Walk The Moon Gospel Tour at Stage AE
- Wiz Khalifa gets fans fired up for new album in First Niagara show
- Inside the Ropes: Indy wrestling Q&A
- All in favor of sewage accord between Allegheny Valley authority, regulators
- Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble closes season with dramatic revival
- Steelers’ Blake prefers secondary job
- PlanCON return good news for Ringgold
- Doppelheuer chosen to lead Belle Vernon wrestling
- Greensburg Central Catholic graduate returns as staffer
- UPMC workers’ compensation unit drops claim in Western Psych shooting
- Pirates notebook: Cole scratched from rehab start at Indianapolis