From Pageants to Prep School: Profiling Delaney Musgrave ’22

At the young age of 11, Delaney Musgrave ’22 sat in the audience of a beauty pageant to support her friend who was competing.

At the young age of 11, Delaney Musgrave ’22 sat in the audience of a beauty pageant to support her friend who was competing. While she had not previously taken an interest in pageantry, as she looked upon the dazzling girls strutting confidently across the stage, she was inspired to explore opportunities in the field. From one competition to the other, her budding interest slowly transformed into a lasting endeavor. Like any rookie, Musgrave didn’t master the “poise and wit” of a beauty queen instantaneously. Rather, it took many years of practice and experience to develop the skills and characteristics of a pageant queen. She started with smaller, local competitions in her hometown of Atlanta, Georgia, before enrolling in more large-scale international pageants.

The preparation for a pageant is an extensive process. In addition to spending a minimum of two hours a day completing her “homework”—practicing her stage walk and preparing answers for her interview questions—Musgrave had to attend multiple wardrobe fittings and coaching sessions on a regular basis, often visiting the dress shop at least once a week. The time commitment required to be a pageant girl forced her to make sacrifices socially and academically, which resulted in her decision to not participate in pageants this upcoming year in order to focus on school and adjust to Lawrenceville before competing again. However, in the past, Musgrave frequently travelled outside of her state to participate in pageants on weekends. Adapting to this busy schedule proved to be challenging, but Musgrave’s dedication, perseverance, and hard work eventually served her well. A season contestant, Musgrave has won multiple titles, including the Miss Southeastern States at the USA National Miss pageant this past year.

To participants, pageants are more than just beauty competitions; Musgrave utilizes her opportunities in the field to make friends from all over the world with similar interests. Prior to becoming a pageant girl, Musgrave mainly interacted with a small, close-knit group of friends from her high school in Georgia, but now, she “gets to meet girls from all over the place and talk to girls in [different countries] at least once a day.”

Moreover, her pageant career has landed her a part-time modeling job with Sherri Hill, where she frequently models designer evening gowns on the runway and social media. In fact, while visiting Sherri Hill’s Headquarters to collect a dress for an upcoming pageant, Musgrave was approached and scouted to photograph models in the designer’s show at New York Fashion Week this past year. The opportunity allowed her to not only see how a professional production is done, but it also deepened her appreciation for pageantry after witnessing the ‘behind-the-scenes’ of a modeling career. Musgrave realized that the “modeling world is definitely different from the pageant world in the sense that models don’t have to be successful in other areas,” such as communication and socialization, which contestants are evaluated on in pageant competitions. Over the course of a few decades, pageantry has evolved into more than just a showcase that accentuates a girl’s physical appeal; these competitions now attest to a girl’s maturity, intelligence, and adaptability. This experience allowed her to recognize that becoming a pageant girl is not just about the looks, but also about personality and character.

To Musgrave, pageantry is “more about the substance you have, and there’s a lot more to a girl than what’s superficial.” In reality, most beauty queens are the kind of role models many people would look up to. Contrary to popular belief, pageant contestants are self-absorbed and shallow, these girls are more than just pretty faces: they possess characteristics of self-discipline, perseverance, intelligence, passion, but mostly, dedication. “These girls put their best self forward and are devoted to everything they do. They go out in their communities and make a difference because they want to help, not just to take pictures for their Instagram feed.” Musgrave herself has been inspired to give back as well, frequently volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House and attending mission trips to developing countries such as Honduras.

But with all the positive lessons that pageantry teaches, the rivalry involved in competition greatly affects a contestant’s self-confidence. Going into a contest, Musgrave has definitely “felt not good enough or not nearly as prepared” as other contestants. In the world of a beauty queen, “it’s inevitable that girls compare themselves to other girls,” but instead of letting these self-deprecating thoughts overcome her, Musgrave views them as a “wake-up call that motivates [her] to work harder.” By undergoing such experiences, Musgrave also discovered that nobody is “perfect.” Although a girl may seem to have everything under control, what she portrays to the public is only the “highlight reel” of her life, devoid of the struggles and adversities she faces. Rather than portraying a false image of one’s personal life, Musgrave encourages others to “be [themselves] because everyone is [his or her] own person and possesses a set of characteristics unique to his or her own. It’s said a lot and it’s cliché, but it’s the truth.”

Looking forward, Musgrave hopes to attend the Miss USA pageant. To her, the beauty contest is the “Super Bowl of pageantry,” and winning such a title would not only bring immense pride and joy to herself, but also to her mother, who sees Musgrave as her “personal barbie doll living out her dream” as well.

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