More than just a competition

Bright lights. Roaring crowds. Junior Joyce Zhou struggles to maintain a dazzling smile wearing nothing but a swimsuit.

Zhou was a contestant in HTTV’s first annual Bicycle Cup Beautiful Angel’s Beauty Pageant. She competed from Saturday, Sept. 3 to Sunday, Sept. 4 at the Bicycle Hotel and Casino. Although the competition itself was only two days, Zhou and the other girls had been rehearsing almost everyday since August.

I gained more confidence from being on stage and learned that it isn’t that scary,” Zhou said. “It was just overall a really good experience.”

Zhou’s vocal teacher recommended that Zhou go participate in the pageant to meet and interact with people outside of school. Zhou met a diverse group of women who came from different backgrounds at the competition. Zhou, 16, was among the youngest of the contestants while others were as old as 65.

“I got to meet a lot of new people who came from different occupations. I met one of the girls from Phoenix TV, who was in Miss Chinese Cosmos Pageant,” Zhou said. “I also got to meet people my age that were really cool. The girl who won was also 16, and she’s from Arcadia High School.”

On the first day of the competition, she and the other contestants participated in a swimsuit and evening gown show. On the second day, a talent show was hosted in which all the contestants performed a song or dance.

“The hardest part for me was learning how to walk in heels and being okay walking around in a bikini,” Zhou said. “After I realized that even the 65-year-old contestants were confident wearing a bikini, I was like, ‘if they can do it then I can do it too.’”

For the talent show, Zhou performed a hula dance she perfected herself by watching videos on Youtube. Zhou had taken hula classes before and was familiar with the choreography.

“I practiced a lot because I wanted to put on the best performance that I could. I didn’t want to embarrass myself on stage,” Zhou said. “I practiced whenever I could. Everyday I would try to practice for an hour or an hour and a half.”

Although Zhou received high marks in the talent portion, she did not place. But for her, the biggest takeaway was the experience.

“One thing for sure is that beauty pageants are not easy to do. I [respect] all the people who do pageants, sometimes for a living,” Zhou said. “It’s really hard to maintain your figure, speak confidently, not be afraid to be put on the spot on the stage and be more open towards people.”

By Natalie Jiang, Feature editor
Photo courtesy of Joyce Zhou