The impact of beauty pageants on women's development

Beauty pageants do more than just show off a women's looks

Photo by: The Oracle New Paltz
Photo by: The Oracle New Paltz

Beauty pageants serve as a platform where contestants can display not just their physical beauty, but also their intelligence, talent and charisma. Some people believe that pageants solely encourage physical beauty and repress an individual’s intelligence and charisma. Emily Eshbach, a junior at IUPUI, says beauty pageants bring some of the best qualities out of her.

Eshbach has been in multiple beauty pageants and has been participating in them since the age of seven. Her mother served as her director during a princess pageant, which operated as a mentoring program. It was through this program that she was encouraged to start participating in pageants.

“My mom actually was always into mentoring young women in the interview portion of the pageant because she saw the growth and professional skills that came with it,” Eshbach said. “She never influenced me to do it, rather the growth and strong character these young women held was something I wanted to emulate.”

From Eshbach's early exposure to pageants as a mentoring program, she discovered a platform that not only allowed her to showcase her skills, but also provided a way to contribute to crucial charitable causes. Her participation in these pageants became a catalyst for her engagement in philanthropy, leading her to pursue a degree in the field to further her efforts in community betterment.

Pageants have associated charity platforms that contestants support, which help raise awareness and funds for important causes, which was something Eshbach found she cared about deeply. Approximately 70% of pageants feature associated charity platforms that contestants actively support. Eshbach attributes her experiences in pageants to her philanthropic work. 

“I believe that being in beauty pageants made me the woman I am today, by being the president of Zeta Tau Alpha, raising awareness for breast cancer and being a part of the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy,” Eshbach said.

For Eshbach, pageants were not only a way to bring awareness to causes she cared about, but also to bring herself out of her shell. 

“Without the Miss America organization, I would still be a shy girl who is afraid of what someone thinks,” said Eshbach. “This formed my confidence to become an eloquent speaker and a role model for young girls to be confident in their successes. The dresses were just a bonus!”

Eshbach encourages anyone thinking about joining or participating in pageants. 

“Get out of your comfort zone and just do it. There are a lot of professional opportunities and it helped me network with people and helped me receive scholarships,” Eshbach said.

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