Pageant allows women to be role models
Posted: Monday, July 9, 2012 8:00 pm
By MONICA K. SMITH
Kentucky New Era
HOPKINSVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Dusk settled over Hopkinsville and the Western Kentucky State Fair carnival rides began their evening work. While fair-goers faced the rush of high speeds and great heights, inside the convention center the nine Mrs. Western Kentucky State Fair Pageant contestants faced a rush of a different kind. They stood beside each other holding hands as the winner of the pageant was announced: Meredith Stewart, 34, walked away with the crown on a recent Saturday night.
First runner-up Bianca Crockam stood next to Stewart and smiled like a woman who won, because just being there that night was an achievement.
Crockam started her recent Saturday peacefully, far from thoughts of lights and stages and crowns by picking green beans and blackberries in her garden.
“This was at 6:30 a.m. before it got too hot,” she said. “It’s peaceful doing that kind of work. The bees were buzzing and doing their thing.”
By 5:30 p.m. she was at the fairgrounds and found herself being used as a canvass as her friend, Bridgette McCombs, applied makeup. Soon she would be standing on stage at the Mrs. Western Kentucky State Fair Pageant.
“It’s like a dream of mine to be a model,” Crockam said between eye shadow applications. “I did some modeling work in Florida but I wasn’t tall enough for the runway. Just doing this, I think I would enjoy it because it will be part of a dream.”
Crockam said this was her first pageant. She saw an ad for it in the paper.
“I thought it was so cute that they have a Mrs. because usually it’s a Miss pageant,” she said. “I was tickled that a small town would have a pageant.”
Crockam asked her son, Marcus, 9, if he thought she should enter. He was encouraging and before long she was on the phone talking with Betty Hayes, the pageant director. She turned in her entry form four days before the deadline and with a conference the week before she had little time to prepare aside from healthy eating and a small increase in cardio work. But her biggest worry wasn’t how she may look on stage, but whether she can stay on the stage.
“The hardest part is seeing everybody out there in the audience and focusing on the stage and not falling off,” Crockam said. “I definitely don’t want to make YouTube: ‘Contestant falls of state fair stage.”’
As Crockam and the other eight pageant contestants prepared themselves in a side room at the fairgrounds, another contestant asks a question: “Do you think I should hide my tattoo?”
The question echoes across the room and is met by another contestant saying she has a tattoo as well and was wondering the same thing.
Crockam and others pause from preparations to survey both women and both small tattoos for a moment.
“I don’t think so,” said Crockam. “It’s who you are.”
The other women agree and soon everyone gets back to work on primping themselves and helping one another. Crockam said the environment is far different than the preconceived idea of selfish contestants arguing over petty things.
“It’s way different,” Crockam said. “Everyone is helpful. Everyone is sharing equipment and spritz, you name it. We’re all here to have fun. It’s not like it’s a battle for a million dollars.”
With that said Crockam also admits she doesn’t know what the prize is for the winner.
“I just came to have fun and put on a nice show for my friends and family. I don’t know what the prize is. I didn’t even ask,” she said laughing. “It wasn’t important to me.”
What is important to Crockam is to follow her dreams and to be an example to others.
“I wanted to be someone that other African American girls could emulate, a positive example,” she said. “I’m not perfect but I want them to know you don’t have to be what the world says you are. You can be who you are and be beautiful as well.”
Crockam said her mother was conservative and influenced her in through teaching the importance of being presentable and being respectful. That conservative lifestyle has translated to how Crockam describes her personal style.
“I would say I’m classic,” said Crockam. “I dress really traditional. I’m not a trendsetter. I don’t keep up with the trends. I have some clothes in my closet that are 15-20 years old.”
Crockam’s conservative fashion tastes are reflected in her simple black pants and shirt she wears with pearl earrings. However, McCombs said Crockam’s “classic” trends are more than just a fashion choice.
“She is the epitome of class,” McCombs said. “She used the word classic to define her style and the root word is class. That’s what she is cut and dry. And that’s why she could make a perfect role model. She is my role model. It’s because of her that I strive to make sure I dot my ‘I’s and cross my ‘T’s.”
Crockam, who is 40, and the oldest of the contestants, hopes she can be a role model to adult women as well as younger girls.
“Women, as they become older, want to re-identify themselves,” said Crockam. “They are mothers, daughters, wives, and they lose themselves in those titles. This lets them be someone else, be themselves.”
Despite not winning Crockam said simply being on the stage was an achievement.
“Try everything,” Crockam said. “Get out there and work hard. Reach for your dreams and keep reaching for it. Don’t let people tell you can’t do something.”
Published in The Messenger 7.9.12