GUIZERIX: Much more than hairspray and glitter

Published 4:00 am Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Over the weekend, I had the pleasure of covering the Miss Mississippi’s Outstanding Teen competition at the Ardis T. Williams Auditorium.

With its glitz and glamour and — dare I say — pageantry, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I took my seat to the left of the stage. But what I gained this weekend was an inspiration.

Seeing the 16 young ladies compete for the title was impressive in itself, from cello to standing backflips to high notes and everything in between. Extending far beyond their many talents, however, were the impacts each of the contestants hoped to have on their communities.

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From advocating for vape detectors in school bathrooms to serving as a role model for girls pursuing STEM careers, the accomplishments of the girls involved in the Outstanding Teen competition would pale in comparison to most people twice their age.

I had the pleasure of speaking with each of the preliminary winners on Saturday and the new titleholder, Nataleigh Nix, on Sunday. Their excitement and poise were unlike any other child their age — I know I would’ve stumbled over my words if I’d been in their shoes answering interview questions.

When the crowning ceremony was complete on Sunday evening, there were no bitter tears or bad sports. Every girl knew that what she accomplished through her pursuit of the title carries a legacy beyond the crown. They’re still getting out every day to advocate for their causes, to fundraise for those in need and to educate others on the importance of building a better Mississippi.

It’s a lesson we in the older generations would be wise to heed.

From the outside looking in, it’s easy to understand how a competition formerly known as a pageant would get a bad reputation. But I’d just have to encourage the critics to take an afternoon and attend a preliminary round or two — or better yet, find out when a candidate is speaking or hosting an event to benefit her social impact initiative.

I walked away this weekend thankful that Miss Mississippi and the Teen competition have a home in Vicksburg. And I’m thankful my little girl will have great role models to look up to on the occasions the ladies are in town.