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Teen pageant queens explain their hobby

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- "Basically, there are four parts to a beauty pageant," said Zoey Oberst. "Interview, street wear, evening gown and onstage question -- aka the 'fishbowl' question. Depending on the size of the pageant, sometimes they include the swimsuit division."

Oberst, a 16-year-old South Charleston High School junior, participates in these pageants. Through Oberst's participation, Jordyn Johnson got involved.

"Zoey came to me and asked if I wanted to do a pageant with her, except in a different division. Of course I said yes," said the 13-year-old John Adams Middle School eighth grader.

Johnson got the hang of things quickly and won the first and only pageant she has done, earning the title of 2012 Saint Albans Riverfest Junior Teen. She will move on to an international competition this fall.

Oberst has been doing pageants for a little more than a year and a half and has participated in about 15. Her titles consist of Miss Perfect Teen West Virginia, Miss Teen Multifest, Miss Teen Armed Forces and Miss Teen Bridge Day.

When asked about how she started in pageants, Oberst said, "My English teacher, who was a pageant coach, came up to me and said that I was really pretty and that I should do a pageant. The next weekend I was signed up for a pageant!"

Recently Oberst won the title of West Virginia Perfect Teen Supermodel and got the chance to travel to Florida to compete against other state winners.

"It was a great experience," she said.

Many people have become familiar with pageants through the popular TLC reality show, "Toddlers & Tiaras," but Oberst and Johnson say those pageants are not like the pageants they do.

"Those pageants are very fake," Oberst said. "Ours are more about natural beauty. They judge you on overall natural beauty, poise and how you present yourself."

"It's not about what you say, it's about how you say it," added Johnson, regarding pageants' interview and onstage question portions. "You have to have confidence."

That's not always easy, though.

"I was extremely nervous before my pageant," Johnson said. "I didn't know what to expect."

"I still get a little nervous before pageants, but I know that I'll have fun no matter what happens," Oberst said. "The key is to just be yourself."

Oberst's advice to teens who want to start doing pageants is, "Be yourself, be confident and have fun."


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