More pride than appearance

Kristen Bradford, pictured bottom left, with the Miss Malibu Teen and Miss Malibu contestants at a belly dancing workshop. The young women will compete in the Miss Malibu pageant Saturday at Malibu High School.

The young women who will compete in the first Miss Malibu and Miss Teen Malibu on Saturday at Malibu High School talk about what they gain, aside from a crown, from the contest.

By Coles Brewer/Special to The Malibu Times

For the 17 young women competing for the title of Miss Malibu and Miss Teen Malibu this Saturday, pageantry has little to do with appearances and a great deal to do with pride.

To be a first to represent Malibu as a figurehead of attributes is one thing that has endeared 21-year-old Summer Cedarleaf to the competition, although she has had pageant experience and admits that it also falls in line with a process of self-discovery. “Competing in the Miss Malibu pageant, for me, means having the opportunity to maybe be the lucky young woman who represents the city of Malibu,” Cedarleaf said. “Malibu has become my home away from home, and it would thrill me to be able to not only be active as a student, but be active as a community member as well.”

Cedarleaf says that she has found that pageants, in general, bolster her ability to perform and communicate on a daily basis.

“I have learned that there is so much to be gained, whether or not you win. I find that pageants are a way to improve myself through self-competition. So far I have already improved my interviewing skills, which is something that I will be able to use in everyday life.”

Contrary to the fact that a post-modern perspective might consider any competition centered on aesthetics to be outdated and incorrect, Cedarleaf and her co-competitors carry another perspective.

“Pageants emphasize the importance of well-roundedness,” Cedarleaf said. “If you look at the pageant winners of today, such as Miss USA, Miss Teen USA, or Miss Universe, these are all women who are not only beautiful, but who are intelligent and poised and well-spoken. They are women who want to make a difference, and who are able to do so through pageants.”

Twenty-one-year-old contestant Ashley Jay added, “The USA system is the greatest scholarship opportunity for women in America. The pageant is also philanthropic and helps give girls the opportunity to be a voice in the community.”

On a personal level, Jay said her first pageant experience has served as a form of self-realization through comparison. “The pageant has helped me find what makes me unique and different from the other girls and be proud in those features and qualities,” she said.

Angela Muiruri, 19, said she is drawn to the diversifying factor of the competition. She said she enjoys “competing with other girls that are like me, but different in many other ways. We all come from different backgrounds and upbringings and define beauty differently.”

The Miss Teen Malibu contestants are just as goal-oriented as the older women. Fourteen-year-old Mackensie Beer said, “The pageant has opened my eyes to my community. I had never really understood that I can do something to change Malibu. Sure, maybe plant a few flowers and attend city council meetings, but having to think about it for the interview of the pageant really got me started. I began to think of programs I want to start, and people I’d like to talk to.”

Mackensie said she has also been impressed with the knowledge she has gained in researching heroes and in following current events, both of which are assignments meant to prepare the girls before the competition.

The girls have been busy preparing for the coming weekend and Pageant Director Kristin Bradford has coached them on presence and poise, which she said she believes are essential to presentation. Events leading up to the pageant have included preparation workshops where contestants conduct mock interviews with their peers and participate in one-on-one interviews with Bradford. She believes these exercises will help prepare the young women for life on and off the stage, and the contestants agree that it is indeed about preparation and hard work.

“Its all about self-improvement,” Cedarleaf said.

The pageant will begin at 4 p.m., this Saturday, June 25, at Malibu High School. Tickets are available presale $20, and $25 at the door. For information regarding tickets contact Kristen Bradley at 310.993.4361 or