Behind the curtain: A student’s passion for pageantry


Photo Courtesy of Rick Martinez

Paige Verma

Being in a band wasn’t cutting it for Alex Deitz. Having a song on iTunes was great, but it wasn’t what she wanted to do with her life. At age 15, Deitz found her calling: pageantry.

It was watching shows like the “Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show” and “America’s Next Top Model” with her mom and sister that aided in making that life changing choice. She realized pageantry was her dream and went for it.

Deitz felt each of those girls were the whole package. She described how they were so intelligent, smart and happy and on top of that, were extremely fit when walking across a stage in their swimsuits.

“It was a lightbulb moment for me, which was weird because I’ve never really had that feeling about anything else before,” said Deitz, a junior journalism major. “I wanted to be a girl that was empowering like they were. I looked to them and thought they had it all.” 

When Deitz competed in her first pageant for Miss Teen USA, she received first runner-up. She explained how she did everything she thought she was supposed to do: She got a coach and listened to what she said, but also did her own thing, she said.

“It was the most authentic I think I’ve ever been because I was kind of clueless about things… I didn’t really know what I was doing,” Alex said.

In the following two pageants, she received first runner-up for Miss Teen USA again, having three consecutive first runner-up awards.

Deitz’s mom, Moncel Deitz, was originally apprehensive about her daughter participating in pageants. Now though, she supports her endeavors.

“Initially, I did have fear with (Alex) wanting to go into pageantry. I didn’t know if she had thick enough skin to handle the constant criticism,” Moncel said.

Moncel said there are so many negative comments directed toward girls in pageantry, including many message boards that call the girls “fat” or “ugly.” She said steps are being made to stop those types of comments and messages, but they will always be there.

“I worried about her, but she is the type of kid that can blow those types of things off her back and it just pushes her more and more and drives her to be better,” Moncel said.

Deitz’s younger sister, Gabby, never got into the pageant world, but still supports her sister and what she does, even though the start of it was a little rough for her.

“When someone says the word ‘pageant,’ people automatically think the stereotype that goes with pageants and, I’m not going to lie, I did too,” Gabby said.

Gabby said she never thought her sister would get involved in pageants because she played softball and was a cheerleader. She thought Deitz would end up going down an athletic path instead.

“I think pageants are a good thing. I have seen what they can do to a girl: build confidence, promote healthy living and increase knowledge on what’s going on around (people),” Gabby said.

When preparing for pageants, Deitz not only had a training coach to help her get in shape and get on a diet, but she also had an interview coach who helped her with the interview aspect of the pageant competition.

Deitz has been working with coach Rian Valentine for almost a year now. She has worked with her through Miss Heart of Ohio USA pageant and Miss Ohio USA.

Valentine said the most important part to focus on is to make sure they are 100 percent authentic. Each contestant has different weaknesses and strengths, she said.

“We focus on things like grammar and being able to express themselves,” Valentine said. “For others, it’s about finding past experiences so they can tell their story and not give expected bad pageant answers that ‘sound good.’”

As Valentine has worked with Deitz, she is able to see where she has improved and strengthened.  

“With Alex, she was such a seasoned competitor and it was great to see her still willing to work to become even better,” Valentine said. “Her biggest areas of improvement have been her ability to give answers from her heart and telling the story instead of just giving the answer.” 

Paige Verma is the student life reporter for The Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected]