Published on October 10th, 2012 | by Karin Jenkins0
Recently I was in Orlando judging an international pageant system called Galaxy International. On the judging panel, I was joined by my husband, David Jenkins (left), Dr. Richard Martorano (right), Ann Martorano (far right) and Valerie Morken (center).
As good judges know, there is no discussion about the contestants prior to the pageant or during the judging process. So it wasn’t until a week or so after the pageant that I decided to interview everyone separately and ask just how did you all judge beauty? What were the qualifications you were looking for in an international beauty queen? Why did you ultimately choose the woman that you did to wear the crown and be the Galaxy Queen for the next year? How did you choose the best questions for interview to get to know this delegate well enough in a very short amount of time to choose her for the job?
The categories in this pageant were Personal Interview, Swimsuit, High Fashion Outfit of Choice and Evening Gown. All the girls and women are on stage for the exciting Opening Number and Introductions, but that part is not judged.
David and I are both seasoned judges. We are both state certified judges with the Miss America system and have been judging various pageant systems on the local, state, national and international levels since 1981 (we were 4 years old).
Valerie Morken, also a seasoned judge, has over 100 pageants in various systems under her belt. Rick and Ann were both brand new to the pageant scene and the whole judging process. This makes for a very interesting panel of judges.
Pageant Directors try to get a diverse group of judges with different backgrounds to really help each contestant have an even chance at the title. And as they say – a different set of judges on any given day would result in a different winner every time.
I would like to thank all of my judges for taking time out of their busy lives to be a part of this story.
Here are some of the comments I received from my judges – including my own input.
Ann Martorano – “As a first time judge, I didn’t really know what to expect or what I was looking for in a beauty queen. It was very difficult to make a choice, due to the fact that all of the women were beautiful, smart and filled with personality. As I made my choices, though, I think what I was finally looking for was a woman who could have a conversation with me, not just repeat what she had memorized on her bio; and who was enthusiastic about whatever her chosen field or cause might be. Looks, figure and wardrobe were also important, as it is all part of the entire package. I did not see any woman whose looks impressed me so much that I would disregard anything else. I was very impressed with all of the ladies at all different age levels and it actually restored some of my hope and pride about women in our culture today.”
David Jenkins – David says, “Personality is #1. You are applying for a job and if you don’t have a personality, you can’t do the job. Every pageant system is different – if the girl or woman doesn’t fit that particular pageant system’s criteria, then they aren’t the person for that particular job and title. A great example came from one of the teen delegates. She was absolutely beautiful and when she walked into Interview – she walked through the door like she really owned the room. I thought this was surely going to be the Teen winner until she totally blew an interview question. She was asked what she would do to be a positive role model for girls her age and she responded with, ‘I don’t get along with girls my age – I hang out with older people.’ She blew it! Her job as a Galaxy International queen is to be a role model and represent girls her age.”
Karin Jenkins – “It’s all in the eyes. You can always tell if a person is truly genuine by looking into her eyes. Do her eyes twinkle when she talks? Is she really passionate about her platform or whatever she is talking about, or is she just going through the motions? The same applies for her smile. Is it genuine or “perma-grin?”
So you totally understand what I am talking about, I want you to try something – Go to a mirror and just look at your eyes without thinking about really anything. Now close your eyes and picture in your mind that when you open them, you are going to see the person you love most in the whole world. Now open your eyes and look into the mirror. Do you see the “twinkle” in your eyes that wasn’t there a minute ago? Pretty cool, huh? I learned that trick from a celebrity photographer years ago – he would make all his actors and actresses do that to get a really great picture.
Of course as a judge – I am looking for the whole package – looks, personality, choice of wardrobe and physical fitness. Personally, I would rather choose a person who has a great personality and shows great enthusiasm for life than a more physically attractive person who could care less about the world around her.
As a judge, I also watch the contestant when she doesn’t think she is being watched. I am watching how she handles herself on stage when she is out of the spotlight or in the wings or right before she enters the interview room.
Most important – BE YOURSELF! Don’t act like the person you think I want to see or answer questions with what you think I want to hear. I can tell a “phony” every time.
Dr. Rick Martorano – “Confidence is very important and so is stage presence. The contestant needs to look comfortable on stage and during the interview process. In the Interview segment I like to see an educated manner. Articulate. A delegate that can think on her feet. Appropriate dress for all phases of competition is important. Is the gown or interview outfit or swimsuit age appropriate? Does the girl wear the outfit or does the outfit wear the girl? I judge 30% to 50% on beauty in the physical. She doesn’t have to have a great body, but more a great physique or athletic look. I don’t like skinny – I like curvy and no matter what – she needs to walk with confidence.”
Valerie Morken – “Personally, when I judge, I look for the whole package: Beauty, sincerity, intelligence, confidence and the ability to handle themselves in all areas of competition to the best of their ability. Being a judge for a pageant can be compared to a business setting. Judges are out to seek someone to fit the position of the job to be fulfilled, ultimately, being the winner/queen. As I view it, a winner should be as prepared as possible for every situation. Training is always necessary in order to learn, improve; and let’s face it, no one is perfect and there is always room for improvement and ways to better ourselves. We are constantly exposed to situations where we can learn, we just all need to be open to those opportunities.
I don’t necessarily think that the way a contestant looks is the main reason for a winner to be selected – unless it is truly based on facial beauty (alone) and it is known as a Beauty Pageant. If there are other categories that come into play to get the over-all score (i.e. Interview, Swimwear, Volunteer Service, Fashion Wear, Talent, Platform, etc) then looks alone are not going to win it for any contestant – no matter how beautiful they are on the outside. There are so many clichés out there, but one that sticks true and is still used today, is whether one can ‘talk the talk, but can they walk the walk.’
It really goes back to the basics, beauty comes from within. Each contestant needs to tap into her own self and know who she is and her true beauty will shine through. You may not win every pageant, but I can assure you that once you feel good about ‘YOU,’ you will be a winner each and every day of your life.”
All of this really made me start to think pageants are really no different than a job interview or an audition for a play or even when you are just meeting someone for the first time. It’s all about first impressions and how you portray yourself to others. You only have one chance to make a first impression every day of your life. Life is not a “dress rehearsal” and you don’t get a “do-over” on a first impression.
What type of person are you? Do you wake up in the morning, slide a comb through your hair, splash your face with water, brush your teeth and then race out the door or do you make an effort to be the best you that you can be?
Apply makeup, style your hair, choose a complimentary outfit? Do you dress appropriately for every occasion or do you take on the lazy attitude of “you get what you see.”
Do you stand tall and act confident or do you slouch and look insecure? Are you friendly and do you greet everyone you meet with a smile and a kind word? Are you approachable? Are you interesting to talk to? Are you a good listener? If you are answering “no” to any of these questions then maybe it’s time to take a big step back, look in the mirror and reassess the situation.
Now I know we all have “those days” when we don’t want to wear makeup, fix our hair or wear anything but a comfy sweat suit. That’s okay, sometimes, but when you are presenting yourself to the world around you – you need to try to step it up.
How many times have you “not seen” an old friend in a store because you didn’t look or feel your best? You know exactly what I am talking about.
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m guilty of this, too. You know, those times when you are just going to run into the store for something and you run into someone you haven’t seen in awhile. It never fails – when they see me the first thing out of their mouth is, “So, do you still own a salon?” It’s a little embarrassing, but that’s what I get when I feel like being lazy.
I don’t know how many times over the years I have had people come in for a job interview dressed like they don’t really care about the job or much of anything else for that matter. I can guarantee you all the degrees in the world still won’t make me give that person the job if they don’t have a great personality to go along with it.
I will take a well put together person with a great personality and desire to do the best job possible over an educated snob any day. A college degree or licensed specialist doesn’t guarantee you a job if you can’t present the entire well-rounded package.
If you audition for a part in a play or movie – they won’t look at you twice if you don’t even try to “look” the part you are going for. I have done some crazy stuff over the years to get a part I really wanted in a theatre play. For example, I dyed my hair fire engine red for the lead in “The Miss Firecracker Contest” several years ago. It was the scariest thing I ever did to my hair, but I really wanted the part, so I had to dress for the role.
Do you remember when you were a kid in school and there were those teachers you loved to look at and listen to because they took the time to look nice for their students? They gained more respect from their class because they cared about how they looked to the people around them. I have had a lot of teachers throughout my school career, but the one that remains in my fondest memories will always be Mrs. Kluter because she dressed nicely every day of the year and her perfume was magical. The whole class loved her.
A couple of years ago, I was asked to do makeovers at an elementary school for Teacher Appreciation Day. I thought all of the teachers purposely came to me with no makeup on to make my job easier. Come to find out – they never wore makeup to work. When I asked why, the general response was, “Why, we are just with kids?”
Well, I am here to tell you – kids notice how you look and appreciate the effort taken by their teachers, their parents and anyone else in their little world. You are setting a life example on good grooming habits and how to present future employees, business owners, parents, or even beauty queens to the competitive world they will all too soon be facing.
My dad would never let my sister, Julie, and me go to school in sloppy clothes – we always had to dress up. His motto: Sloppy dress equals sloppy work.
He was right. On the days we managed to escape in jeans & T-shirts and make it to the school bus before he saw us – we didn’t care nearly as much about doing our best work.
Would you trust a doctor who entered the room to perform surgery wearing flip flops and cut off shorts? Would you buy expensive jewelry in a store from a saleswoman with bad finger nails or dirty hands? No!
Your first impression is most important no matter who you are, where you are, or what you are doing. Whether you are going to work, attending school, interviewing for a job, going grocery shopping, taking care of your family, or even competing for the title of Miss Galaxy.
Picture #1 - Group photo of the Galaxy International Pageant (from left) David Jenkins, Karin Jenkins, Valerie Morken, Rick Martorano and Ann Martorano
Picture #2 – Head Judge – David Jenkins and Judge Ann Martorano
Picture #3 - Head Judge - Karin Jenkins and Judge Dr. Rick Martorano
Picture #4 - The judges during stage competitions