It is a pricey venture to become Miss Nevada
RENO – Being a beauty queen is expensive.
Sarah Wilson and Jacqueline Wilkins have learned that first hand.
Wilson, Miss Reno Sparks, and Wilkins, Miss University of Nevada, Reno, have each spent about $2,000 hoping it will pay off on June 27.
The best friends will face off against each other and 10 other women from around the state in the Miss Nevada pageant.
Wilkins, 22, graduated from UNR’s Orvis School of Nursing in May and works at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Reno. Wilson, 23, is a junior at UNR and is majoring in theater.
The two met three years ago when both were interns for Walt Disney World in Florida. They met again at an orientation at UNR, and their friendship grew.
From dresses, shoes, bathing suits, hair, makeup, spray tans and even a product called Butt Glue, contestants at this stage of the Miss America pageant system pay for everything themselves.
“It really does start to add up,” said Wilson, who, as a full-time student, worries about the cost of competing. She said she saves up when she knows she needs to buy another dress.
“We wear the dresses again, and I make sure I pick clothes that I can wear to other events,” she said.
Both Wilson and Wilkins are competing in the Miss America pageant for scholarship money, but the road to paying off student loans and paying for graduate school isn’t a free ride.
The title comes with $9,000 in scholarship money if crowned Miss Nevada at the Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts in Reno.
But until then, and if you don’t win, it’s hard to come up the money to pay for gowns that cost $200 and more.
“You can’t just wear a regular prom dress,” Wilkins said.
She said pageant dresses are made to hold up against wear and tear.
“They are just better made, and then you have to pay for it to fit perfectly.”
She said it can be tricky because working out can change the way a dress fits.
“I’ve gotten more back muscles so I had to have my dress refitted again,” said Wilkins, who bought her dress at a shop called Crowns and Gowns in Sacramento. Wilson bought her dress online.
Both said the week before a pageant gets pricey with airbrush tanning and nail appointments, haircuts, makeup lessons and preparation time that takes away from working.
“It adds up quickly. These are things you don’t have to do, but I feel better when I have my hair colored and I’m tan so it’s important to me,” Wilson said.
According to Teresa Benitez-Thompson, Miss America pageant director for the state and Miss Nevada 2002, judges won’t be critiquing the women on the quality of the clothes.
“It’s more about picking things that look good on you,” she said.
Thompson said when she competed, she wore a $15 bathing suit she found at Ross.
“We aren’t one of those states that has girls wearing $10,000 evening gowns,” she said. “All of our Nevada girls are pretty savvy when it comes to spending.”