Politics are a scary topic in pageantry, mostly because we don’t know exactly how we should be responding to these questions.
Scan the room and tell them what you think they believe?
Bluntly give your honest opinion and risk offending others and creating a great divide?
Gracefully evade the question all together and attempt to change the topic?
The two most recent and memorable political questions came from the Miss USA pageant in the final question phase of competition.
Carrie Prejean in 2009 gave her blunt opinion about same-sex marriage in her Top 5 Question and ended up as first runner-up.
Chelsea Hardin in 2016 gracefully danced around the question of who she’d vote for in the upcoming election. She, too, was first runner-up.
I wish I could tell you there were a sure-fire way to answer ANY question and win. There’s not. It’s all a delicate dance.
What I can tell you is that no matter what, you have to deliver your answer with certainty in what you’re saying.
Your pageant interview is not a quiz. They aren’t so much judging what you say as how you say it.
I tell all my clients, “You don’t have to answer, you just have to respond.”
Isn’t that freeing?!
Suddenly, you realize, you aren’t a presidential candidate, governor, or lobbying activist. You’re a student, a teacher, a nurse, a pageant woman – you don’t have the answers, so don’t try to be ‘right.’ Just be ‘lovely.’
First, it begins with knowing yourself deeply and in the context of the greater community.
Then, recognize you are a spokesperson for a larger cause. Your voice carries weight because of your association.
Finally, know the hill you’re prepared to die on. Meaning, what are you willing to stand for even if it means you’ll lose the title. These values are the ones that make you a powerful woman.
Remember, life goes on after the pageant. You’ll give up the title in a year, start a new career and the words you spoke back then, when you had the platform to stand for something will still echo.
Start with knowing yourself deeply so you know where you stand.
Then, answer with confidence. Don’t shrivel up in the corner. Come with your full understanding of yourself, your community, and your values.
You may get an “unlucky question” – that’s what the owner of the pageant said about Carrie Prejean’s final question in 2009 – but 7 years after the pageant, whether you win or lose, you’ll be able to sleep at night that you answered with confidence and ease.
That, my dear, is how you win in life.