Not everyone knows this, but I’m sure the majority suspect it; girls in beauty pageant get plastic surgery. When you watch Miss America, Miss USA or Miss Universe, you’re watching plastic surgery in action. I know, because when I was younger, I lived it. ​

I started competing in pageants when I was a teenager. If you’re not familiar with beauty pageants, girls start competing as young as 4 years old. Pageantry runs deep in many families and a lot rides on their success. Girls practice several times a week, they get their hair professionally styled, and they become all too familiar with spray-on tans. It’s taken very seriously, and in many cases the moms want to win more than their daughters.  

Since I got a late start, my odds of winning were slim. At my first competition I remember feeling so out of place. All the other girls were confident, poised and relaxed. I could tell they had competed for years.   

When the competition was over, you wouldn’t believe whose hard work paid off? Not mine! But I finished second and it gave me enough confidence to keep going.   

From there I began competing in other local events, honing my craft, and perfecting my wave (yea, we do practice our wave). In time started to win. I was getting good enough that my parents hired a pageantry coach. I remember one of our first meetings. We discussed my strengths and weaknesses and what I could do to improve. The topic eventually led to plastic surgery.   

She said that if I wanted to compete on the big stage, I would have to remove some of my road blocks. Which meant I needed a nose job. I was taken aback. I had a big nose, but I thought my positive qualities outshined the negative aspects of my looks.   

Later that night I got to thinking about what she said. “Was I willing to do what it took to compete, not just in Miss. Texas, but Miss. America?”   

I was 19, young and naïve. I decided to do it. I trusted my coach and if everyone else was having surgeryso why not me  

My parents were supportive. Like me, they were also naïve and influenced by my potential stardom. They didn’t want anything holding me back, so if that meant paying for cosmetic surgery, then they were willing.  

I got the nose job and I did make me look prettier, but unfortunately, it didn’t translate to more success. I competed in Miss. Texas, but sadly, I didn’t win. And because of that, I was prevented from competing in Miss America.    

Unable to move forward, my participation in pageantry started to dwindle. Competing takes a lot a work, and it can be stressful. I didn’t have the drive anymore. On top of that I was attending college, and I had no free time. Eventually I stopped altogether and “hung up my crown”.  

It’s been years since then, but last week I went home to visit my parents and we pulled out my pageantry box. It was filled with mementos; old crowns, ribbons and photos. Some of the pictures show me before the surgery, some after. My nose is different, but I’m smiling and genuinely happy in all of them.   

When I look in the mirror now. I see a smaller, more defined nose. I’m beautiful person, but then again, I probably always was.

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