My name is Laura Beeson, I’m a Catholic wife, mother, homemaker, beautician and sometimes singer. So why did I, at the age of 30, with no previous experience decide to participate in a Mrs. Ohio International Pageant? Because I wanted to.
Now, most of my life is filled with doing things for others, and I’m happy to, I know I am serving Christ through my husband and children and volunteer work, but I learned that I don’t need to be so self-sacrificing that I won’t allow myself to have my own experiences. If it would have been a burden to my family, I wouldn’t have followed through, but I’m frugal and self-sufficient and I’m not too proud to admit that I use YouTube videos to teach me the rest.
For a while I struggled with guilty feelings about it all, am I just being vain? Then one day as I contemplated it, I realized, I don’t need to feel bad about the things that bring me joy, because God gave me the interest and talent to be a beautician. Yes, though it may seem mundane to others, hair and make-up and pretty clothes bring me joy. And I’d go so far as to say that my Christianity helps me to filter through fads and fashion to see what truly shows beauty and discard what doesn’t, which only makes it more enjoyable.
Originally, I had this grand plan that I would keep it a secret that only my husband would know and after the Pageant is when family or friends would find out. Mostly because I just wanted to do it for myself and didn’t want to come across as attention-seeking. But after learning more about Pageantry, I realized that was unrealistic, of course they want you to promote the pageant, the community you represent, your platform and yourself. That seemed fair.
I had chosen the Couple to Couple League – Natural Family Planning as my platform, since my husband Sean and I are a certified volunteer teaching couple through the organization, this was a wonderful opportunity to promote this uncommon knowledge to other women and couples. I told myself to let go of the pride, don’t worry about what others think, and just do it! So for the six weeks leading up to the Pageant, I promoted myself as Mrs Crawford County through social media and my husband graciously obliged to go along with it all, I love that man.
Now, let me make it clear, not all Pageant systems are created equal, but I liked what I saw within the Mrs. International system.
|What Is Mrs International®?
|A FAMILY AFFAIR… The International Pageant system has been developed to promote today’s married women, their accomplishments, and commitment to family and marriage. Around the world women are finding this system to be the opportunity to work with their husband and family to become positive role models.
|Our Mission: “To Make a Difference”
|Beginning 30 years ago, Mrs. International® was developed to have higher standards than other pageant systems. Each contestant competes in Interview Competition, which is valued for 50% of her overall score, Evening Gown, valued for 25% and Fitness Wear for 25%. Each contestant has the opportunity to select a platform of her choice that she spends the year promoting. Husbands are a direct part of the show, escorting their wives in the Evening Gown competition, and the husband crowns his wife titleholder.
I’m sure there may be other Pageant Systems that I wouldn’t feel comfortable participating in or promoting, but this is a system where they value family and community work, I can stand with that.
Now, at the time, we had 4 kids, ages 7, 5, 3, & 1, as you can see, our kids have been pretty consistently spaced with the use of Natural Family Planning (NFP). I know, plenty of people look at us and think, “Clearly that method doesn’t work,” but to us, it’s a testament that it has. I’ve always been the “weird” gal who wanted a larger family, but after our 4th was born, I was feeling pretty worn down and in need of a mental and physical break, which NFP assisted us with. I loved and served the family I had, started exercising regularly which did me more good than I realized it would, enjoyed the return to normal hormone levels and the regular body functions that accompany them.
Then, all of a sudden, I found that God had changed my heart unexpectedly and having another baby wasn’t so scary anymore, and in fact, I was interested in another baby. So, we weighed our reasons to postpone pregnancy, and there weren’t too many anymore, I’d be 12 weeks pregnant for the Ohio Pageant and if I won and had to attend the International Pageant, I’d be 6 months along. Basically, I realized that it was more important to be true to myself and allow the possibility of another life than to worry about how I’d look in a gown or how others’ perceived the workings of NFP. So, it was no surprise to me, that I was 12 weeks pregnant for the Pageant, but I had decided to keep it a secret since I didn’t want there to be any wonderings about biased judging, nor had I been to the doctor yet for a check up.
The week leading up to the Pageant I packed my things, made sure I had everything I needed and reminded myself that no matter what, I was going to enjoy myself, because that was the point of me doing this whole thing. If I made a mistake, or didn’t have something I needed, or spoke poorly, I’d let it go quickly and move on with enjoying the experience.
Saturday morning I arrived to the Pageant venue for Orientation to begin at 10 AM, there were 4 categories of ladies competing: Junior Miss, Miss Teen, Miss & Mrs. There were 6 of us in the Mrs. division. Most of the day I fought the feelings of intimidation, I’d see a beautiful woman and before I’d allow myself to think one way or another about her, I’d make myself go over to her and start chatting. And you know what? Making yourself move is the hardest step, but after that, you start to enjoy yourself, because people are interesting! I’ve learned that we women, do ourselves a disservice when we make judgements about other women by what we perceive from their appearance. We miss out on possible friendships, opportunities to serve, or the chance to make ourselves a better well-rounded person. The way a woman looks on the outside, does not speak of who she is as a person.
Over the years, I’ve had quite a few people tell me that when they first met me, they thought I was a snob (well, they used a different word, but I won’t repeat it here) but once they got to know me, they say that word doesn’t describe me at all, whew, that’s a relief! I don’t know why I’ve come across that way, but I think that’s helped me to develop myself into being more friendly than the stand-off-ish route I used to take when meeting others.
Our interviews were with five different judges for five minutes each, the questions varied from “What are your plans if you win?” to “If you were an animal, what would you be?” I’d say it went well, and a hippo was my answer. Most of the day was filled with covering what was expected of us and practicing as best we could for the Performance Pageant the next day.
Luckily, on Sunday morning I was able to find a Catholic Church that held a 7 AM mass that was only about a 15 minute drive from the Pageant venue, because we were expected to arrive by 8:20 AM and were not permitted to leave the building for the rest of the day. The day was filled with rehearsal, hair & make up and more rehearsal before the show began at 5 PM.
I’d say I kept up with the “pros” just fine, I didn’t forget my name, I didn’t trip on stage, or stammer for words during the Fish Bowl question. I did realize after one portion that I had forgotten to look at the judges, so I knew I didn’t have a perfect score, but I planned to do the best I could for the remainder of the event. I ate pizza while waiting to showcase my Fitness Wear in the changing room, clearly I took it all very seriously. And the best part was my wonderful husband got to escort me across the stage in my evening gown, looking quite dapper himself.
I wasn’t the least bit surprised that the wonderful Teri Grothaus won the title of Mrs. Ohio International, she’s a CNP who goes on mission trips to Guatemala and collects bottles of vitamins to distribute to the children there, and I think it’s safe to say we knew almost immediately we were kindred spirits. She’s a gem, and this week I’m cheering her on as she competes in the Mrs. International Pageant representing our state of Ohio!
Looking in retrospect, I’m happy about it all: that I did it, that I informed others about NFP, that I could show my kids that you can enjoy the things you lose at, that it helped me to develop in characteristic ways I had let slack.
So, would I do it again? To my delighted surprise, the answer is yes. Will I? I don’t know, maybe. That’s what I love about life, I don’t have to make definitive answers about the future, because I don’t know what God has planned, but if I leave myself open to the possibilities, then I haven’t limited myself. Whether I do or don’t, I’ll strap on the Breastplate of Christ and go about my way, hopefully letting Him carry me into unlikely places and sharing uncommon things in the world around me.
– Laura Beeson