Glittering gowns. Perfect hair. Confident steps. Flawless makeup. Enchanting talent. Eloquent words. Silky sash. Shiny crown. Pageant queen.
Many girls grow up wearing plastic tiaras, singing for audiences of stuffed animals and playing dress up to parade around and show off their princess gowns. Some of them continue in this trend long after baby teeth have been lost and childhood is over.
One of these lucky ladies is the newly crowned Miss Ouachita Baptist University, junior Abby Lindsey.
“Being in pageants has always been something I wanted to do,” Lindsey said. “I grew up seeing my grandmother interview the Miss Arkansas winners and wanted to be a part of that because I saw the fulfillment and the joy they had representing their state. They held themselves to such a high standard and were so respecctable.”
Her pageant beginnings were not as poised and practiced as they are now, however.
“My first pageant was Little Miss Van Buren,” she said. “I was in sixth grade and I bawled because I didn’t win! I was so pathetic.”
A year later, Lindsey won her first pageant and was named Miss Arkansas River Preteen. After a brief hiatus, she returned to pageants her senior year of high school and entered in the Miss Arkansas preliminary competitions.
“The first Miss Arkansas prelim I won was Miss Ozark Highlands, which was the spring of my freshman year. I missed spring break because the pageant was on the Saturday at the end of the break and I wanted to be at home to prepare,” she said. “Then I gave up the next spring break because I had to give up the title that same weekend. So my junior year is my first spring break to actually do something!”
Two years after winning her first Miss Arkansas prelim, Lindsey is preparing to head back to the Miss Arkansas stage for the third year in a row and says she has finally gotten a handle on what to expect.
“My first year, I was just so excited. I didn’t know what I was doing and didn’t understand the preparation that needed to go into it,” she said. “My evening gown was just a wreck. My interview was awful. I was not prepared.
“Then last year, I knew what I needed to do. I was prepared mentally, spiritually and physically. and it just exceeded my expectations. Winning Miss Congeniality was so humblimg, then overall interview and second runner up was just crazy.”
In order to prepare for her third trip to Miss Arkansas in June, Lindsey is training not only her body and voice, but also her mind and spirit.
“Pageants are hard in the sense that they challenge you and they push you to think in ways that you’ve never had to think before,” she said. “If you’re Miss Arkansas, you’re speaking for and representing all of the people of Arkansas who may not share the same thoughts as you and the same religious views as you.”
In order to prepare herself and keep her mind and heart in the best place possible to serve her title and the Lord, Lindsey says some of the most important preparation for a pageant is “a lot of Jesus time and a lot of prayer.”
“It’s spending a lot of time with the Lord, asking Him to give me the words to speak in that interview room where I’m not denying Him, or walking away from the things I believe in, but also not offending anyone in the room because they’re still all human beings,” she said. “I’m trying to be spiritually strong in that because Satan is very capable to attack through those judges. It’s pretty much a teset of character and a test of faith, for sure.”
Lindsey’s platform, “Social Network Safety,” is something she believes strongly in because she has experienced firsthand the dangers of online predators.
“I thought I had found this awesome guy who had everything any girl would love – especially me in my 16-year old mentality,” she said. “It turned out that this cousin of his, who I became friends with, made up this fake Facebook account and created this person that I had fallen in love with and he didn’t even exist.”
Over time, Lindsey discovered that she could use this experience from her past as a way to reach out to others. She has spoken at events, mainly to children, educating them on the proper way to use social media and the internet.
“That’s how I was able to swallow my pride and talk about it,” she said. “No matter the situation, how good or bad, extreme or not, even if you think it’s not influential, the Lord is using your experiences for that kind of thing.”
Lindsey is looking forward to the next year as she represents Ouachita all across the state..
“I love this school and everything about it and wouldn’t want to represent any other university. My parents went here and my sister and her husband met here and graduated from here, so to be able to represent them as Ouachita alumni and other alumni friends is just a huge honor and I’m humbled by it and really excited for the opportunity.”
Something else she is looking forward to?
Waking up in 104 days and eating anything she wants.
“The day after Miss Arkansas, I would be okay with a cheeseburger and a shake from Big Orange,” she said. “Or a cinnamon roll. Maybe both.”