Have you ever wondered what the pageant world could teach one about confidence and beauty? Well the other day, I had the wonderful opportunity to sit down with Lizzie Stoeber, a senior at St. Johns Country Day School, and ask her about how her experience in pageants had impacted her confidence and opinion on beauty.
How do you define confidence?
“My definition of confidence is strongly rooted in being comfortable with who you are and what you stand for. The more you get in touch with yourself and the more you know yourself, the more confident you’ll be.”
What have pageants taught you about beauty?
“Pageants have taught me that general conventional standards of beauty are not all a girl needs to win a title. When I was thirteen, I was told that I needed to wear contact lenses if I ever wanted to win a pageant because no one picks a girl with glasses as the winner. Yet, I can proudly say that I’ve received three Outstanding Teen titles and two preliminary talent awards and I’ve worn my glasses onstage every time I play piano for my talent. The beauty that pageants tend to look for comes almost entirely from personality.”
How has competing in pageants helped your confidence?
“Competing in pageants have made a world of difference for my confidence level. When I was a kid, I was so incredibly shy and so anxious when it came to meeting new people that I would barely look my own family members in the eye for the longest time. But competing in pageants, specifically in the Miss America’s Outstanding Teen system, forced me out of that toxic zone that I was so comfortable in. Of course I’m still a little shy, especially around people my own age, but if anyone could’ve seen where I was five years ago, they would not believe that I was the same person.”
What’s your ultimate advice to all teens out there on being confident?
“Honestly, have as much fun as you possibly can. Hold your shoulders back, smile at people you see in the hallway, and don’t pay attention to what other people think or say. At the end of the day, as long as you can look yourself in the mirror and be happy and at peace with who you are and what you stand for, then there’s nothing that anyone can do to knock you off of that throne.”
How do you define beauty?
“Beauty has absolutely nothing to do with how you look and everything to do with how you treat people. Personally, I’ve never been able to find a person who can’t treat everyone equally and with respect beautiful. True beauty starts in the heart and then shines forward in everything you do.”
Have you learned any techniques through your time in pageants that other people can also use to grow their confidence?
“Learning how to read people’s body language is a great skill that I’ve acquired through the Outstanding Teen system that has definitely helped me gain confidence in awkward or stressful situations. By picking up on people’s body language, it’s very easy to tell which people are good for you to talk to and which to stay away from. You can tell if there’s anyone else who is just as uncomfortable as you and start up a conversation with them. You can find the people who seem to have hordes of other teens flocking to them and find out how they remain confident, then apply that to your own lifestyle.”
How does confidence play a role in high school? What’s your advice on remaining confident in high school?
“Confidence in high school plays a role in not just your social life, but also in the classroom. The more confident you appear to be to your teachers and administrators, the more likely they are to recommend you for scholarships, or write you good letters of recommendation. But, of course there is a fine line between being confident and being cocky. Have certainty in your opinions and abilities, but never close yourself to constructive criticism from those who are just trying to help you. My best advice on remaining confident in a high school setting is to stay true to your morals, your standards, and who you are as a human being. The less you waiver on the things that are most important to you, the more your peers and teachers will respect you.”
What do you do when you hit a low in your confidence?
“When I hit a low in confidence I always start with taking a deep breath. Then, I’ll try eating something. Chances are, if you’re experiencing a low in your confidence, it’s because you’ve missed doing something (like eating, sleeping, or showering) that you normally do and your body and your mind aren’t reacting well to it. Music is also a great confidence booster for me. I always start out listening to more mellow, slow jam songs, then escalate to the faster, pump up songs that give me a surge in adrenaline and, subsequently, confidence.”
Is there anything or anyone who helps you remain confident? (Examples: a song, a book, a celebrity, etc.)
“I am a HUGE musical theatre nerd, so Andre de Shields’ Tony acceptance speech from this year has really kept me going. He told the audience of his “three cardinal rules of [his] ability and longevity.”“One, surround yourself with people whose eyes light up when they see you coming. Two, slowly is the fastest way to get you where you want to be. And three, the top of one mountain is the bottom of the next, so keep climbing.”- Andre de Shields, 2019 Tony Awards”
I hope you were just as inspired as I was after Lizzie’s interview! I have been following her advice since the interview, and I have seen some improvements to my confidence. I challenge you to follow her advice as well! Also what good advice do you have for feeling confident? Comment down below.
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