Mind, Body, Soul Monday: Pageant competition

SHREVEPORT, La. - Fox has brought us a lot of pageant moments over the years, including last year's mistake by host Steve Harvey who announced the wrong winner.

Or, maybe when pageants are mentioned, you think of TLC's show "Toddlers and Tiaras." 

But, when I tune into a pageant I see brave women working their craft. 

I always wondered exactly what goes into preparing for a competition like this. 

Luckily, I now have a co-worker and friend in Lauren Vizza who gave me some insight.

"Some of the smartest and most intelligent women and people I know are the women I've competed with," she explained. 

A high school athlete, pageant competition was never on Lauren's mind. 

"I thought, 'oh my gosh. If you're doing a pageant you're dumb... you're vain... you're probably a selfish person... you have no ambition,' you know? What could you possibly gain out of it?" 

She ended up gaining help paying for her college degree and walking away with the prestigious title of Miss Louisiana 2012. 

"I grew up playing soccer and dancing, so learning how to be a best individual player so that you make the team better... [I brought] that mindset into pageantry," she said. "Yes, I want to be the best Lauren Vizza I can possibly be." 

It's a process that really starts with mental grit.

"Being strong enough to put yourself in this kind of competitive setting where you know you're going to be judged," she explained. "Mentally knowing who you are, why you're doing this and what you want to get out of it and when you go in mentally strong you come out a completely different woman." 

Now a TV news anchor and reporter, heels to gym shoes is a pretty normal transition for her as she prepares to compete at Miss Louisiana USA.

"Unhealthy habits can absolutely develop and I have watched women destroy themselves trying to fit some sort of perfect ideal figure," she said. "For me, I went into it wanting to learn about me. As a woman... who am I? What does my body look like when it's at its healthiest?" 

New ownership of the Miss Universe organization is really embracing a healthy ideal, making some changes like last year's mandate for teen competitors to showcase active-wear rather than a swimsuit. 

"This way, it promotes 'are you healthy?' It's not 'what size are you?' or 'what does your body look like?" It's 'is this healthy for you? Are your numbers good when you go to the doctor?' They are really prioritizing complete and total health," she explained. "They want contestants who are in school, working." 

Working while preparing for competition is a complete exercise of the mind, body and soul, but one that can be so worth it.

"Competing in a pageant like this gives me the opportunity to work on Lauren and dig deep to find out who I truly am," she said. "And, 7--year-old Lauren is really impressed and proud of me for even doing this at all and trying to make this dream happen." 

The Miss Louisiana USA Pageant is October 21, 2017.  

The current Miss USA is Kara McCullough, whom gained a lot of popularity as an African American nuclear scientist who rocked her natural hair through competition. 

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