When it comes to natural pageants for girls and teens, National American Miss (NAM), American Coed (Coed), and International Junior Miss (IJM) are popular choices for many families. My daughters and clients always rave about the quality of these pageant systems when they participate in them. Because these three pageant systems have similar categories of competition, when you prepare for one it’s easy to compete in the other two.
The 3 main areas of competition for state pageants are formal wear, personal introduction, and interview. Fun fashion/Modeling is added as a fourth category of competition at the national IJM pageant.
Special Tips for Formal Wear:
- Gowns must be full length and touch the floor for all three pageants. Better a little too long than too short; but the contestant must be able to walk in the gown without stepping on it. The shoes should not be visible when they are standing still.
- Make sure there are straps on gowns for the girls ages 4-12. The 13-15 age groups are a bit tricky. You will see both strapped and strapless gowns on girls in these age groups. Here is a question to ask yourself when looking for a Jr. Teen gown. When she is wearing the dress, does she look older than 15? It’s better to be conservative. If she could pass for an 18-year-old in the dress, it’s too mature. Add straps. In the teen divisions, strapless gowns are perfectly acceptable.
- Make sure the skirt isn’t too full or puffy. The judges want to see your daughter. If the dress is too wide or too ruffley-puffley, it will shorten the contestant’s height on stage and take attention away from the girl. There is a fine line between making a statement with your gown and it being too much. You will start seeing the straighter gown skirts and mermaid styles on the Teens in COED; and on Jr. Teens and Teens in NAM and IJM. Slit skirts are not common on Teens in these three pageant systems; however, occasionally you will see one. It all depends on the how tasteful the dress style is. Again, I feel it is better to be conservative and opt for no slit. A high slit is never appropriate in these three pageants.
- Single colored gowns with tasteful embellishments tend to score best in these systems. If you think the colors of sherbet ice cream flavors, you’ll get a pretty good idea of the color palette you’ll see on stage. And of course, you will always see white.
Special Tips for Personal Introduction and Interview:
- Coed introductions must not be longer than 20 seconds. You will have points deducted if you go over the time limit. In NAM and IJM, 30 seconds is a guideline and you can push it to 40 seconds. The focus here is not on how long it is but in the delivery. The introduction must capture the judge’s attention within the first 7 seconds. If you think about how TV commercials are crafted, that will help you write your introduction. The line is fine between showing your personality and being over the top. You want people to be drawn to the real you and your personality.
- For interview, all contestants need to wear pantyhose and closed toed nude shoes. Children need to buy nude colored dance character shoes. Your best bet is to order them online at a discount dance outlet because you won’t find them in department shoes. Capezio is a trusted brand new.
- A solid colored interview suit with minimal stoning or beading is your best choice with the hemline being slightly above the knee. Mid thigh is too short. It should fit your contour perfectly without being too tight especially across your bottom. If your bottom looks like the capital letter D in your skirt, it’s too tight. Most suits for children are custom-made because you can’t easily find them in the stores.
Special General Tips:
- There is no makeup on girls 12 years old and under. Don’t even put shiny clear gloss on their lips. Makeup for the older age categories must be age appropriate.
- No tight ringlets or prom hair styles. They like hair to look natural in these systems. Natural does not mean stick straight, even though a few blessed girls can pull that look off. Hair down with lift at the roots and soft body at the ends is the style to shoot for. Hair must be out of the contestant’s face. If you have bangs, gently sweep them to the side, or lift them up from your forehead. Bangs will cast a shadow over your eyes and face and the judges won’t see those features.
- The style of clothing for the fun fashion and casual wear modeling competitions is real clothing NOT costumes or glitz wear. You’ll see high low dresses, jeggings with cute tops, and a variety of clothing expressing the contestants’ personalities. Avoid denim. Display your fashion sense by accessorizing and customizing your outfit but don’t cross the line of tacky.