Crowns and Gowns

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Crowns and Gowns

Gissel Olivas, Reporter

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Miss and Teen Amarillo Texas Latina 2016, the pageant that embraces Latin culture, gives young girls and young women an opportunity to demonstrate their heritage.

This local pageant is part of a bigger pageant system that leads up to the highest competition, Miss America Latina del Mundo. The organization began in 1981, has grown and changed throughout the years to become what it is now under the management of Acirema Alayeto, who is the President and founder of this Latin American pageant system.

Everything starts with a local pageant like this one here in Amarillo then goes on to state level in which titleholders from each city compete for the state title. In Amarillo’s case, it would be Miss and Teen Texas Latina. The titleholders for each state in the United States then go on to compete in Miss and Teen U.S Latina. Finally, the winner of the United States pageant in the “Miss” category competes for the highest title in the organization of Miss America Latina del Mundo. The category of “teen” ends in the national level so the highest possible title for this category is Miss Teen U.S Latina. Girls ages 13 to 17 compete in the “Teen” category while young women ages 18 to 26 compete in the “Miss” category.

For the local pageant, all delegates have the opportunity to learn and train for one month with weekly practices provided to them by the Amarillo pageant directors, Lupe Alamo, and Yolanda Mendoza.

Within these practices, the girls are given classes that range anywhere from makeup lessons to self-defense classes. Aside from the classes, candidates also have lessons with the current Miss and Teen Amarillo titleholders, which this year Katie Chavez and Yuni Valles. The queens teach the girls about presentations, how to walk in heels, interview skills, stage presence, and other basic pageantry skills.

Being a candidate for this pageant comes with many perks. Several photo shoots throughout the month of preparing, being recognized by the community, volunteering opportunities, and networking with significant people in the Hispanic community are just a few.

It is understandable that when people think of pageants, what comes to mind is physical appearances, but that is only scratching the surface of what they actually are. Few realize that pageants focus more on education and helping young women grow than aesthetics, especially this particular pageant system.

The delegates learn the importance of being “more than a model, a role model” through various classes. Special guests talk to them about public speaking, the importance of getting a higher education after high school, being involved in the community, and being a well-rounded young woman that can represent Amarillo in a positive light.

For the entire month prior to pageant day, every girl is challenged in some way, forced to abandon her comfort zone. The week of the actual pageant is the most challenging part of the entire journey. That entire week the entire show is practiced time and time again. Wearing heels 24/7 that leave blisters and blood stains, sleepless nights, and having to wake up early in the morning to do it all over again.

A few days before the show, an event called the Purple Carpet allows the community to interact with all of the delegates. This is an opportunity for the girls to socialize in a professional setting, and it also helps the judges see the contestants in a similar setting that they will be faced with as titleholders.

The day before the show, the most important part of the entire competition begins the preliminary competition. This is basically the entire show with full hair, makeup, outfits, and music minus choosing the top girls that have to answer a question and the announcement of the winners. However, the only people watching are the judges. The girls give it everything they have because that is when the judges choose the top five girls in both categories with an idea of who the winners will be.

Finally, the day of the show arrives. High nerves, the smell of burning hair, makeup everywhere, girls running around trying to finish getting ready, and everyone blasting different music to get pumped up. Excitement to get out on the stage and show the huge crowd what they have been working so hard on for so long.

As soon as the curtains rise, the lights come on, and the screech of the screaming crowd is heard. All nerves disappear, and there is a sudden rush of adrenaline in each girl that makes them want to never step off that stage. As the night rolls closer to an end, the top candidates are announced. The top five girls from the Teen and Miss category are asked a question that they have to respond to the best they can. That answer becomes the final decision maker for the judges determining who the winners will be.

The time has finally come to announce the winner. The second runner up is announced first, then it is explained that the first runner-up will take the position of the winner if for some reason she fails to fulfill her duty or resigns. The winner is announced, Miss Teen Amarillo Texas Latina 2016 is Zaida Cordova and later announced in the same way, Miss Amarillo Texas Latina 2016 is Marlyn Cervantes.

Although there is only one winner, all the candidates agree that the experience alone helped them grow as young women, gain confidence, and change their perspectives about pageants. As for the new titleholders, they now have the mission to represent the city of Amarillo and, as the organization’s motto says, “be more than a model, a role model” for the Latin community.

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