Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Secrets of Pageant Judge

What a Pageant Judge Won't Tell You

By Samantha Dunn

Keith Lewis,former Miss USA judge

On the heels of this past weekend's Miss USA pageant, we asked Keith Lewis, director of the USA pageants in California, New York and New Hampshire and a former Miss USA judge, to share—for better or for worse—what he really thinks about evaluating contestants.

Beauty Comes First

"Judges have a job. Think of us as the human resources department. Our task is to look for three qualities in the ideal candidate: beauty, beauty and beauty. Period."

It's a Science

"Beauty isn't just in the eye of the beholder. In fact, beauty does have an objective measurement. It's about symmetry, having it or creating the illusion of it."

Settling Is Silly

"You don't need to 'accept who you are.' People say you have to simply accept reality when it comes to your looks. That's the tyranny of the '60s hippie mentality, and a pageant judge knows this is a bunch of BS. You meet the outside first, before you ever know the person within."

Interior Informs Exterior

"If you start fixing the inside before you fix the outside, you do a lot of extra work, because so much of what is happening inside might be a manifestation of what is happening outside. Plus, the exterior is less threatening. It's easier to evaluate, and it's going to get you immediate gratification. Once you have that, you have the courage to do the deeper work."

It Takes A Village

"You don't have to be born beautiful. You can become beautiful. It just requires a certain amount of patience, and the right skilled people. We find the best stylist, the best colorist, the best eyebrow person, the best eyelash person, the best trainer, the best nutritionist, the best esthetician, the best dressmakers. All of those people together make one gorgeous girl."

Pretty Is Painful

"When the going gets tough, the tough get gorgeous. Going from a diamond in the rough to a mega-carat beauty is possible. But here's the thing: It's painful, because any process of transformation is difficult. Painful for the rock and painful for the jeweler. You do it because at the end, the gem sees its beauty."

Two's Company

"Getting a second opinion is key. Ask people to describe you. What you think of yourself and what others think of you may be very different, for better and worse. You might actually have a great butt but, honey, lose the long hair that you've had since kindergarten."

Organic Is Overrated

"In the U.S., we have this puritanical view that real beauty has to be 'natural.' In other places around the world, it's a badge of honor that you take the time to look good or even to have plastic surgery. It shows you actually care enough about yourself to invest in yourself."

Beauty Is A Process

"The truly beautiful girls are the ones who have grown into being beautiful. At some point in her life, she has not been the prettiest girl in the room. This is why pageant girls are relatable beauty icons."