Pageant stereotypes abound. While they may have become grossly and widely exaggerated through media and entertainment exposure, one thing remains certain: little is known of the true pageant world. A sequin-covered satin evening gown doesn't quite illuminate the stereotypes of bubble-headed, bubble-boobed bimbos catapulted to success through beauty pageants. We divide competitors into two camps: cutthroat overachievers who will do anything to succeed, or serious girls who are smart, competitive and eager to show off they have brains and beauty.
When the Miss Idaho USA and Miss Teen Idaho USA pageant took place last Saturday in Nampa, stereotypes stood still for a moment to converge into an evening of entertainment, beauty and the knocking down of a few misconceptions. Pageant winner Amanda Rammell will proceed to the national competition which will be held next spring for Miss USA.
Before the girls were crowned in Nampa, BW chatted with pageant director Tracey Driflot of Eagle.
BW: Tell us the truth. All that estrogen, all that nervous energy, the seriousness of the competition. Any catfights going on backstage? Anyone throw their Diet Coke and storm out?
I meet once a month with all the girls. I teach them how to walk, interview [and] how to dress in what will make them look better. We also talk extensively about sportsmanship. The girls really look after each other. No catfights.
What is the demographic makeup of these girls?
The 2005 Miss Idaho USA, Sadé Aiyeku, is African-American. We do have several ethnic races in the pageant. But I guess you could say [the contestants' racial makeup] probably follows the same demographics of the state of Idaho.
Describe your recruitment process: Do you go all over Idaho or do you sometimes just notice a pretty girl in line at the grocery store?
I do travel extensively throughout the state ... but yeah, if I see a beautiful girl in the checkout line I'll approach her and tell her what I do and give her my card. In the teen division, I'm looking for a true teen. I'm looking for a girl that wants to be a role model, a girl that likes school, I'm looking for a good girl. I'm looking for a girl who understands the responsibility [of the title] and wants to do that. I send announcements to every single high school, public and private, throughout the state. I go to the schools and speak to girls who are interested. The majority of the girls come to me. I also encourage referrals from the girls who are competing or have competed before. Something new I'm doing is offering an incentive for girls who give valid referrals. This year was the first year I did a direct mailing also. But mostly the girls come to me [via the Web site or the school sign-ups].
Do you think it's the prizes or the acclaim that motivates girls to compete?
Definitely for the majority of girls it's the acclaim. They all want to go to a national competition. No one has ever asked me what they're going to win. It's all about the competition and acclaim.
Did you just wake up one day and say to yourself, "I want to run a pageant?"
I had a daughter who got me involved. Beforehand, I got involved with event planning and was working with two different youth programs through church and I volunteered at my daughter's high school. Before that I worked for Seattle King County Health Department for 12 years. I wrote state and county food codes.
Were you a sporty girl who had to learn how to pageant walk?
I've always been a long-distance runner and horse rider. I had to learn how to walk like a lady so I could teach the girls. I can usually tell a girl's sport by the way she walks. I can spot a soccer player a mile away.
How has this experience been for you?
I get to work with 64 girls. That means I work with 64 different families too. I have to coordinate the sponsors, the venue, the meals and lodging in running this event. The last week gets really chaotic, I haven't really had any sleep at all this week. But it's really great, it's exciting!