While the time between Christmas and New Year’s is usually one of relaxation, social gatherings with old friends, and simply unwinding, I decided to go the opposite route: trained and competed in the Miss Chicago/Miss Windy City 2019 competition on December 29th.
For those of you who don’t know my background, my involvement with the Miss America Organization began at the age of 17 when I placed first runner up for the state teen title as Miss Northern Suburbs’ Outstanding Teen 2012. After aging up to the Miss division I held the titles of Miss Gold Coast 2016 and Miss Northern Suburbs 2017. All of those were great experiences so I always figured I would keep competing until I age out.
And then 2017/2018 happened. With all the changes in the organization, I was hesitant and apprehensive about competing again. Although I loved the idea of the new changes and competition format, I honestly thought being too used to the old format for the past six years would be a disadvantage in competing.
Well, after competing in the 2.0 formatted local, I can honestly tell you that it was wonderful. Here are my biggest takeaways.
1. After opening number and onstage question, the pageant seems to fly by. You go on stage for talent (which should be muscle memory by the time you compete) and then briefly for evening gown, and then it’s already crowning time! I wouldn’t have thought that just removing one part (swimsuit) would make such a difference in time.
2. I enjoyed the on-stage questions. The judges decide what question to ask each contestant after their personal interviews, so there is no more fishbowl pop question. Although I could only hear a few questions before I had to go change, I was already able to hear the confidence and passion in each contestant’s voice as they answered a question from their resume or expanded on a political question that was touched upon in their personal interview.
3. Now this may be controversial, so please realize this is just my personal experience and opinion. In years past while training for swimsuit, my workout regime was intense and yet I was always a bit sad when I saw myself on stage next to all the other girls. As hard as I worked physically and ate healthy, my mind worked against me, causing me to feel inadequate while competing in swimsuit. While training for the 2.0 format, instead of focusing on how I looked, I focused on how I felt. I worked out everyday to increase my strength and stamina and to feel healthy and energetic throughout the whole competition. I am all for having swimsuit in a pageant because competitors develop great workout & nutritious eating habits while preparing, but I can definitely say that the 2.0 format without swimsuit felt just as, if not more, empowering.
4. Regardless of all the changes happening in the organization, a few things remain the same: sisterhood and family. From the amazing local directors and volunteers backstage, to the supportive family and friends who come to watch and cheer us on, to the entire Miss Illinois sisterhood of titleholders constantly uplifting each other, I know that it doesn’t matter what font is on the sashes, it’s all about strong women pursuing their career ambitions while being trailblazers with their social impact initiatives. And honestly folks – that is what we need to be talking about.
So what’s next for me? Competing in the Miss Illinois Competition! It takes place on June 15th, 2019 in Marion, Illinois. To keep up with my year of service, feel free to follow me on Instagram at @MissWindyCity2019 or on Facebook at “Isha Jog – Miss Windy City 2019”. I couldn’t be more thrilled to represent the greatest city for the next year.
Ladies, if you are considering competing in an upcoming local – please message me! I would love to answer any questions you have about the new format or help out in your preparations.