By Rachael Lynée Burns
If you have ever heard the phrase, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” then you know judging a beauty pageant must be quite subjective. There is no exact science to judging a beauty competition, but there are some vague guidelines judges follow that are generally unique to each pageant system depending on the different criteria the contestants must meet.
For example, in the Miss International Pageant System, contestants are judged in interview, evening gown, fun fashion wear, and fitness wear. The personal interview is like a job interview, so contestants are judged based on their professional appearance, how well they speak and carry themselves, and how educated they are on their platform of choice. Some questions might be personal, but they generally cover the contestant’s platform. Judges come from various backgrounds, which could be in business, pageantry, fashion, or just an average Joe. A judge should look for how comfortable and personable the contestant is, because she is interviewing to represent the entire pageant system. You want your representative to be intelligent and able to speak well! You also want her to be very approachable and genuine, meaning that she is comfortable in her own skin and actually passionate about her platform. No one likes a fake beauty queen! If she is able to connect with you on a personal level and get you excited about her, then give her a great score!
The onstage interview is a little bit more difficult to judge, because it can be impersonal and is much shorter than a personal interview. There is not much time to analyze the contestant’s response. Judges are usually told to rate the contestant based on her speaking ability rather than the content of her answer. The purpose of the onstage interview is to see how the contestant handles the pressure of being put on the spot and being in the spotlight. It is important to look for confidence and clearly spoken words. The contestant should avoid saying “um” and should direct her attention to the whole audience as well as to the judges. She should speak clearly and be able to get her point across quickly while grabbing your attention.
The evening gown section is judged based on the contestant’s poise, elegance, and grace. Good posture and choice of evening gown are very important. The gown should accent her body in a flattering way, and her posture must be proper to convey confidence. Her gait must be smooth, graceful, and controlled. Her facial expression should be natural to show true beauty rather than having a huge smile plastered to her face. A smile is great, but this is not the time for a huge cheesy grin. She must keep her focus to the audience at all times.
The fun fashion wear section is where the contestant has a chance to show her personality. The outfit of choice should be something one would see on the red carpet and it should be flattering to her body as well as show a personal sense of style. A state or national titleholder must know how to dress herself! Her walk should be energizing and perky. Her posture needs to convey excitement in the way she engages her arms, head, and entire body. This is the time for a big fun smile, and maybe a laugh or a wink if it comes naturally. Confidence and a sense of excitement are key.
The fitness section is very important because it shows how well a contestant takes care of her body. What a person eats and their exercise regiment will show when more skin is showing! If she takes care of herself diligently, she is more likely to take her reign seriously and be committed to doing a great job. Many pageants have a swimsuit division, which serves the same purpose. The contestant must show that she is comfortable in her own skin. Insecurity of any kind will show her walk and posture. It is important that her walk stay upbeat and solid. She should not wobble or trip! If she does ever trip at any point during the competition, though, it can actually help her as the judges get to see how well she recovers. Title-holders are not perfect and must know how to gracefully recover from mistakes or mishaps! She should have fun while she is on stage, too!
Many pageants also have a talent division. When judging talent, it is not so important that a judge be incredibly knowledgeable about the contestant’s talent of choice. It is important, however, for the contestant to convey a level of expertise and mastery of their talent. Again, it is all about confidence and performance quality. It is obvious when a contestant has not practiced their talent enough. The talent must also be entertaining as it is important to grab the judge’s attention so they don’t forget about her!
In summary, there are a few key things to look for as a judge of a beauty pageant. You want your winner to be confident, graceful, and intelligent, because she will be representing the entire pageant system. She must be genuine, likeable, and passionate as well so that people can connect with her on a personal level. Superficial beauty is important, but internal beauty is equally as important.