A new era of Miss Teen USA has begun!
Last year, Crystle Stewart, Miss USA 2008, became the new owner of the Miss USA franchise and with this change came some major GAME CHANGERS.
This blog post is specifically about Miss Teen USA and what we can expect at State Pageants this year! (Let me know in the comments below if you want a post about Miss USA)
If you plan to compete in your state’s Teen USA preliminary pageant this year—buckle up. And start taking notes!
Miss Teen USA Game Changer #1 — Youthful Glam
Crystle Stewart has perfected the balance between flashy performances and age-appropriate content to create an entertaining production that is full of what I am calling “Youthful Glam" (brb while I trademark this genius phrase).
Youthful Glam is a combination of glam makeup and outfits (similar to what we see on the Miss USA stage) with the young playful energy we expect from our Teen contestants.
There is a delicate balance to be achieved here (I think we can also expect to see some contestants go way too far in the glam direction and lose that playful teen energy) but when it is achieved it will be absolutely captivating and a joy to watch!
Breanna Myles won Miss Teen USA because she was youthful in activewear and glamorous in evening gown—but it wasn’t a sexy glamor. It was a teenager having fun and enjoying her confidence while on stage.
Miss Teen USA Game Changer #2 — Lighter energy headshots
Continuing with the youthful glam theme--Grant Foto is the new sponsored photographer for the national pageant.
First of all—yay! I love Grant and love his photos.
From what I’ve seen, when he shoots Teen Contestants, he typically uses lighter backgrounds (white, gray, etc.) which captures a young, bright, happy energy.
He also typically partners with FABULOUS makeup artists who are able to create a flawless look, for example--Team Flawless, the new national makeup sponsor.
Team Flawless and Grant Foto partnered up to do the headshots for all 51 Miss Teen USA contestants in 2021. The result—high school yearbook themed photos that featured stunning makeup, a white backdrop and a pastel pink letterman jacket.
This is the light energy I'm talking about. The photos were still gorgeous and impactful but it was a clear Teen energy.
To be clear, youthful glam does not mean every teen contestant must be smiling in their headshot (personally I recommend a smiling headshot but it’s not an absolute must). However, it does mean that we want our teens to look like teens.
So while you may be turning heads in a Team Flawless makeover, you should still bring the young, age-appropriate energy to your headshot shoot. An easy way to do this is by prepping a playlist ahead of time that matches the energy you want to showcase, aka. youthful.
Miss Teen USA Game Changer #3 — High slits in evening gown
If you watched the Miss Teen USA 2021 pageant you know that Breanna Myles won in a white gown with a very high slit–I’m talking higher than we’ve ever seen on the Miss Teen USA stage.
To be clear, Breonna pulled off a thigh-high slit because her gown had shorts underneath. The shorts (rather than a bodysuit) instantly made it feel more "teen".
Many girls will take her win as permission to push the envelope by wearing a gown that may have previously been considered “too Miss”.
I’m not saying this is necessarily a good thing but I am saying we shouldn’t be surprised. Once again I’m going to point to “Youthful Glam” as the goal here.
I truly believe a Teen contestant and a Miss contestant could wear the same gown and win in their respective divisions.
The difference in Teen versus Miss should never come down to the gowns they are wearing. Instead, we should see the difference in the energy they embody, the manner in which they carry themselves, and the amount of confidence they are exuding.
Miss Teen USA Game Changer #4 — Non-political Questions
Based on the questions asked at Miss Teen USA 2021 I think we can expect that the final questions asked at State Pageants will more likely revolve around everyday issues that teens are facing.
This has been pretty common in recent years but I think even more now we are going to step away from controversial current events topics and step more into social media, mental health, overall health and fitness, and pop-culture questions.
The new tagline for Miss Teen USA is #pageantryreimagined. The organization is dedicated to changing the way people see pageantry and a big part of that is modernizing the competition itself.
No one is interested in having the contestants attempt to solve world hunger in a 30 second on-stage answer. The organization wants personality, relatability and above all else—entertainment.
Miss Teen USA Game Changer #5 — Social Media Expectation
Let’s be clear--you don’t need 10,000+ followers on Instagram to win a crown! I’m not saying that, no one is saying that, and if anyone does say that—they are wrong. (And you can tell them I said so)
However the average teen is very active on social media which makes Instagram and TikTok the perfect outlets for promoting the pageant and spreading the message of #pageantryreimagined.
I wouldn’t be surprised this year if more State Directors allow their judges to look at contestants’ social media accounts and take them into consideration when scoring.
Many state pageants already do this.
With the frequency in which our current Miss Teen USA is actively sharing content on social media, we can expect that this will be asked of our next Miss Teen USA as well.
Every state wants a titleholder who can compete at the national level. So take this as your sign (not to start endlessly scrolling at all hours of the night but instead) to start talking about your platform on social media.
Miss Teen USA Game Changer #6 — Portia and Scarlet Gowns
Portia and Scarlet is an Australian based brand that I personally only discovered last year but with the Sherri Hill evening gown sponsorship ending for the national pageant, more contestants are likely to feel free veering off to other designers.
And with Portia and Scarlet's presence and popularity is rapidly growing on social media and within the pageant community I think it's safe to say we will see a lot of P&S gowns on stage this year.
Their gowns are moderately priced and very trendy. The only thing to be concerned about is inventory. Because they are newer on the scene, they are not as easy to snag as your average Jovani gown so make sure to give yourself ample time when ordering!
Miss Teen USA Game Changer #7 — Camera-Ready Confidence
This one is less of an expectation and more of a requirement. The goal of the Miss USA organization (under the new ownership) is to give the national titleholders a bigger platform than they’ve ever had.
This means we are looking for state titleholders who can show up at Miss Teen USA in 2022 and confidently share their opinions on-stage in a panel discussion without any prior knowledge of the topics and/or questions being asked.
I would not be surprised at all if Miss Teen USA becomes a live telecasted event in the near future. It might not happen this year, but I guarantee it is a goal they would like to achieve soon.
Crystle Stewart has already laid the ground work for this with that absolutely phenomenal opening number we saw at Miss Teen USA 2021.
If you have previously thought of yourself as camera-shy, now is the time to change that.
A great way to work on camera-ready confidence is to do a few Instagram lives and look directly at the camera. Do not look at yourself—that is a sign you are not completely comfortable.
Hey, I'm Samantha Neyland
I'm a Mindset & Performance Coach, Keynote Speaker, Community Leader, Actress and Model.
In 2020 I was crowned Miss Hawaii USA 2020! I went on to place in the Top 10 at Miss USA.
Now, I am dedicated to helping young women in pageantry become Queen's before they ever hit the stage.