top of page

Decoding the Pageant Princess

Photo Taylor McKenzie

In my 26 years of life it never occurred to me that my hair partner, Tabitha and I, would be doing hair and makeup for pageants. I remember watching the glamorous televised events every year and it still seemed so foreign and contrived to me. Big hair, white teeth and best of all, over stated makeup for a similarly stated dresses.

Two years ago my only impression of current day pageants consisted of Donald Trump standing in a press line with every beautiful girl in our land; smiling and laughing to the bank. This post describes our journey through pageant prep and how we have seen the breakdown of the stereotypes this culture holds so dear.

Cut to 2015, I will never forget the day I met Carissa Morrow. At this time Tabitha and I worked in an art co-op on Fremont Street in Downtown Las Vegas. After a faint knock on our glass door, Carissa emerged with a smile. She had beautiful long blonde hair, perfectly tanned skin and a smile that melted anyone and everyone's heart. She was an All- American Sweetheart from our beloved city and I instantly adored her!

I quickly ushered Carissa to my chair beaming with excitement. After asking my magnitude of usual prep questions (oily or dry? matte or glowy? etc...) Carissa confidently stated she needed to be pageant ready!

I expressed in haste "HOLD UP ! PAGEANT READY?" Carissa smiled and said. "Yes! I am Miss Teen Nevada 2015 !" ( I did not know this. ) All I could think is "I DO NOT! DO PAGEANTS! No, absolutely not. Not happening. Never happening. The answer is no." I had seen Toddlers and Tiaras and I did not need a rendition in my studio; not now, not ever.

Carissa must have seen the angst on my face because she reassured me it was no different than my usual glamour style. She showed me photos and described all the important components to good pageant makeup. With a deep breath and a quick prayer we started doing the makeup application. An hour later she looked in the mirror and with my surprise she loved it! Here is a photo of her on that very day.

Over the past two years Tabitha and I have learned so much about the needs of the beauties in the pageant world. They have pushed us to be more talented, efficient and understanding of stressful environments. We have laughed, cried and triumphed with so many beautiful people. Our careers have made it possible to participate in helping with interviews, TV spotlights and stage time.

The funny thing is, all the girls that would come to sit in our chair were nothing like what I had imagined. They were polite, courteous and all so different. Looking back at the prior winners everyone seemed so perfect. I quickly came to realize these girls weren't perfect! They were real people, doing real things, trying to make a real difference and in one fell swoop this beautiful 17 year old girl shattered every perception of a pageant I ever had.

That brings us to July 2017. At the height of summer our team got to work with Alexis Smith. When you first meet Alexis there are two things you instantly notice. One, she is tall! Two, she has the most beautiful hair on the planet. Keeping those two things in mind we opted to go with a natural style shoot that went with her overall fun loving personality.

Alexis discussed the importance of being different and how she loved her curly hair. With the upcoming Miss Teen USA pageant fast approaching she wanted to show her raw beauty. We opted for glowing makeup, perfect hair and a photo to highlight all her natural features. Here is a capture from that day.

Makeup & Photo Taylor McKenzie

The decoding of the pageant princess seems to be a more intricate than just a simple post. There is new version of beauty emerging within the pageant community. Natural and real seems to be what is relevant. Judges are looking for someone who will continue to break down harmful pageant stereotypes and bring in new audience members.

The intent of this post is to provide food for thought and a new perspective on those who compete. We hoped to have issued insight into the beauty we see every day. Please remember your first impressions isn't always the impression that has to last.

Write us a note or tweet us what you think @paperbagbeauty . Thank you for your time, we absolutely love to share the fun side of what we do !

Thanks for submitting!

bottom of page