NEW CASTLE —
Macy McBeth’s red hair once was a source of tears.
Today, it’s the perch for a crown.
McBeth, 18, of Neshannock Township recently was named Miss Pennsylvania Teen in National American Miss pageant competition. The first Lawrence County resident ever to claim that state title, she’s now preparing to head to California over Thanksgiving weekend in search of the organization’s national championship.
This was her sixth and final year in National American Miss – it’s for girls ages 4 to 18 – and she’s going out a winner, in life as well as on the pageant stage.
“When I was younger, I was constantly bullied for my hair color,” Macy recalled. “I was the only redhead in my grade, and every day I would come home crying.
“That’s why I love doing pageants. Whenever I’m on stage performing, it gives me sort of a self-confidence that I know who I am, and this is what I love to do. When I started doing National American Miss, it really helped me realize that I am who I am, that God made me this way, and this is who I’m going to stay.”
For Macy’s mom, Karen, the world of pageants seemed a natural route for Macy’s journey to self-discovery.
“Ever since she was a little girl, in the living room, in the bedroom, just going down the hall, she was singing and dancing,” Karen McBeth said. “She just likes to perform and she loves to be in front of people. I thought that this would be a good place for her to show her talents and to let her grow with confidence.
“She’s also met friends that she’s stayed in touch with through the years. It’s a really good experience for young girls because you do get lasting friendships. You take that with you the rest of your life.”
This, too, was a revelation for Macy, since the very word “pageant” often can conjure up images of vacuous beauty queens or the ego-fueled, tantrum-laden competitions seen on reality TV.
“It helped me to understanding the real nature of pageants,” she said. “Some people might have the outlook that pageants are all glitz and glamour, or about looking beautiful. But National American Miss really focuses on inner beauty and self-confidence, helping you know who you are as a person.”
LABOR OF LOVE
As much as Macy enjoys the pageant experience, it’s also serious work.
“As soon as one pageant’s over, we start preparing for next year,” she said. “We might take a week or two to relax, but then it’s right back at it, whether it’s getting all the paperwork filled out, practicing for the speeches, practicing how to walk, how to interview.
“If you wait until a month or two before the pageant, you’re not going to be as prepared as you want to be, and the judges are going to be able to tell.”
Macy, who also won the spokesmodel and photogenic awards at the state competition in Harrisburg, credits her mom with keeping her on track.
“She’s my coach,” she said. “She keeps me in line, even on the days when I’m like, ‘Do I really have to practice?’ She lets me know and gets it in my head that if I really want this, then I have to devote the time to practicing.
“I wouldn’t have been able to achieve this without her. She really has a knack for this stuff. She knows what people look for when you’re stage. Even if we might disagree on certain ways to say things, I end up going with what she says, because she’s always right.”
“That,” Karen smiled, “is just part of being a mom.”
SHARING LIFE’S LESSONS
The work will continue as national competition approaches. Asked what she’ll be doing until then, Macy answered, “Practice, practice, practice, practice – and practice.”
Still, she’ll also be fulfilling the responsibilities that come with having won the state crown.
On Friday, she headed to the Crisis Shelter of Lawrence County, where she distributed packages of school supplies she assembled from items that all state finalists were required to provide. Next month, she’ll be participating in a Habitat for Humanity Women’s Build in Mahoningtown, and just before nationals, she’s scheduled to be a part of the Veterans Day and Light-Up Night parades in downtown New Castle.
She welcomes any and all invitations for appearances.
“My platform as queen is to inspire the youth of our community to stay true to themselves,” she said. “I was bullied, and if I’d have come to realize who I was at a younger age, I wouldn’t have wanted to dye my hair. I wouldn’t have wanted to be part of a group where no one really wanted me there. I would have met the people earlier who really accepted me for who I was.
“So I want young girls to know who they are and to stick to their morals and to never stray form that; to be strong when peer pressure comes their way.”
NEW CASTLE —
Macy McBeth’s red hair once was a source of tears.
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