Sophomore Romy Taylor jumps back into the pageant world

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Photo courtesy of Romy Taylor.

Posing in her last pageant dress, sophomore Romy Taylor reminisces on her past competitions. Taylor has participated in pageants for seven years.“[The most rewarding thing about pageants] are the relationships you make. Because whether or not you win, you’re always going to make friends,” Taylor said.

Since she was eight years old, sophomore Romy Taylor has been perfecting her routine for competing in beauty pageants — pick out a dress, perfect a dance routine, and then multiple weeks later, go out onto the stage. Once the highly anticipated moment comes, with the bright lights pounding on the stage in front of her, Taylor goes out with a smile on her face. 

Taylor was introduced to the pageant world by her sister, who had competed in the Miss Amazing Pageants. Her sister started competing in 2012, about three years before Taylor did. 

“I saw [my sister] win the state title and [thought] ‘I want to do that.’ I want to be in that position. That’s where it really started, then I started getting into the dresses, makeup and hair,” Taylor said. “[My sister] has always supported me with what I wanted to do with pageants. And likewise, I’ve supported her and however she wants to do it.”

Although fluctuating with every pageant system, the local pageant season is from August to early March, with the preparation season for state pageants being from April to June. Since Taylor’s first pageant, she has been in six, including Miss America’s Outstanding Teen pageant and the National American Miss pageant

There’s so many nerves going through your body and your head [during a pageant]. Sometimes it’s scary. You’re going on stage in front of at least 100 people, maybe more. It does get nerve-wracking [but] then once I’m out there, it all leaves my head. I just go out there and do my thing,” Taylor said.

Image featuring the timeline of a pageant according to Taylor. Illustration by Anna Claywell.

Typical pageants usually consist of registration and orientation in the morning, getting ready for the first interviews the day of with the judges and preparation time followed by the introductions and opening number. After this segment of Miss America’s Outstanding Teen pageant, there is a fitness portion instead of a typical bikini or swimwear stage. During this, contestants can do exercises such as jumping jacks and mountain climbers.

“There’s a lot of preparation that goes into it. Every pageant season, I try to get a new dress. [During the last pageant], they picked out three dresses for me to try on. Two of the dresses just didn’t feel right, [but] when I put [my] dress on, I could not stop smiling. I put it on and thought, ‘this is my dress,’” Taylor said. “ [People think] pageants are all about beauty rather than hard work. They think ‘you’re just going to show off a dress or prance around in a bikini,’ but when you actually see how we do it, we’re doing interviews, onstage questions and talent. It’s a lot more than what people would think. It’s been a [steryotype] that’s been around society for years and it needs to change because it can bring down girls if there’s someone saying ‘you must be dumb if you do pageants.’ That’s just not true.”

Next is the talent portion, and with the choice of doing a 90-second singing or dancing routine, Taylor chooses to dance. However, the on-stage questions and evening wear are, in Taylor’s opinion, largely the deciding factors of the pageant. 

“If you’re going to be one of the titleholders, you have to be able to talk and reach out to people. It takes a lot of hard work to do an interview because you have to stand in front of a panel of judges for five minutes and answer the questions that they asked you right on the spot. It’s sometimes terrifying, but if you’re awkward, it doesn’t work, people don’t want to pay attention,” Taylor said. 

In her pageant dress, 10-year-old Romy Taylor models for the camera at the National American Miss pageant, where she won runner-up to Miss Photogenic. Photo courtesy of Romy Taylor.

The last part of the night is the crowning, where the winner and runner-up are declared. Taylor’s biggest win so far has been being awarded runner-up to Miss Photogenic at the National American Miss Pageant. Regardless of Taylor’s win as runner-up, she’s still determined to win more. 

“[Being runner up] felt awesome. Hearing them calling my name on stage, I just wasn’t expecting it. I jumped up out of my seat and was so [excited],” Taylor said. “I would at least want to get a title once. Even just getting a local title, that would be so cool,” Taylor said. “I want to win pageants because it improves me as a person every time I do them; it builds my confidence and public speaking. I feel like all my hard work over all these years finally would pay off and I [would] finally be able to get where I want to be.”

Despite taking a break from pageants due to COVID-19, Taylor hopes to partake again in January or February. In order to compete, Taylor would have to start preparation in a few weeks. 

“It was hard to do [pageants] in 2021, because of COVID-19. It’s just that the cases were just so high, so I didn’t want to [compete and] put myself and my family in that position,” Taylor said. “[Because of the break] I think preparation might be a little more challenging. I’m going to have to mentally prepare because preparation is the most demanding [but] it’s also rewarding. [When] I work hard [in preparation] and feel prepared, then I know I’ll have a better experience with a pageant.”

Although uncertain of how the next pageants will go, Taylor can count on one thing that will make her experience of jumping back into the pageant world worthwhile.

“I don’t [know how it’ll go] until I actually do it because [of the break, but] the first one back, I’ll just go and try my best. I’m excited to return [to them],” Taylor said. “I’ve made a lot of friends through them, and growing close friendships makes pageants even more fun. Pageants have been something that have always been there [for me]. Going back to pageants is going back to my normal.”