Sports have surrounded Abigail German her whole life. She has three athletic sisters and a dad who officiates football games and coaches the Lowell varsity track team. But the Lowell High School senior has never enjoyed sports the way the rest of her family does.
That meant Abigail needed to find her own niche, and she discovered it in a different type of competition: scholarship pageants.
“I found something I really love,” Abigail explains. “It sparked something in me.”
She quickly learned that there was more to winning than simply standing on stage and looking pretty. The pageants she entered required her to have a platform, excel in an interview with judges and, yes, demonstrate a flair for fashion on stage.
Abigail entered her first pageant in 2020, and in October 2022, she achieved her goal of winning the USA National Miss Michigan Teen competition. In July, she will head to Florida where she will be among young women from all 50 states competing for the national title.
Not the Same as Toddlers & Tiaras
It was a friend who first introduced Abigail to the idea that she might enter a pageant. After some further research, she entered her first competition.
“I watched a video on pageantry, and I thought ‘I could totally do this,’” Abigail remembers. “I was way overconfident going into it.”
Finishing near the bottom in that competition was humbling, but she used the experience to fine tune her approach to future pageants. In the process of competing in various pageants, Abigail has gained confidence and poise that is evident in speaking with her.
When asked what misconceptions people might have about pageants, Abigail is quick to point out that the scholarship pageants she enters shouldn’t be confused for glitz pageants. The latter became well known through television shows such as Toddlers & Tiaras and focus solely on external beauty. However, scholarships pageants typically require a platform, an interview, an on-stage question or some combination of those elements.
“UNM (USA National Miss) is very passionate about community service,” Abigail explains. The organization is looking for young women who can be role models. “You have to be willing to go out and serve your community,” she adds.
Winning Competition was “Pure Joy”
While Abigail has entered many competitions, the UNM Michigan Teen pageant is the one she had her heart set on winning. She entered for three years before hearing her name finally called as USA National Miss Michigan Teen in 2022.
“Finally winning the pageant you really want is pure joy,” Abigail says. “I literally dropped to my knees and started crying.” Describing herself as very religious, she says her only thought at the moment was to thank God.
Before getting to that moment, though, Abigail had to navigate several phases of the competition. The first was to develop a platform, for which she chose the theme, “Fancy Lady Cowgirls.” As a member of FFA for four years, Abigail understands the importance of agriculture, and her platform is about emphasizing the role of women in this field.
Then, during the competition, she completed an individual interview with judges before going on to the public portion on stage. That included:
- Fun Fashion
- Evening Gown
- On-Stage Question
For fun fashion, Abigail donned a jumpsuit with a cape, and for the optional round, she decided to model some casualwear. Unlike the evening gown round which requires relatively slow walking, the optional round allows contestants to match the beat of their music and demonstrate some personality.
New Friends and New Experiences
While some girls are entered into pageants at a young age by their parents, Abigail’s participation is entirely her own doing.
“I made the decision to go into pageantry at 16, and it was my choice,” she says.
Along the way, she has made amazing memories and tapped into a network of friends she never thought was possible. Of course, anyone who enjoys dressing up can undoubtedly understand the other appeal of pageants: “It’s really fun to walk around in pretty dresses,” Abigail says with a laugh.
When she heads to the national competition in July, Abigail has no illusions that she will walk away the winner. However, she is looking forward to the experience of meeting new people and being part of the larger competition.
Then, back in Michigan, she will prepare for her next great adventure. She will join the freshman class of Grand Valley State University in 2023, where she plans to study early education. If all goes well, she hopes to one day be teaching a class of first graders.
We send all our best wishes to Abigail for success in Florida – and beyond.
Photos courtesy of Abigail German.