It seems that many state/provincial-level pageants are taking place soon. And some international pageants will be taking place soon too. Some pageants such as the international Galaxy pageants and Miss America have been postponed as a preventive measure to keep COVID-19 from spreading between delegates who would then take it back home to their state/province or country (hello second wave).
COVID-19 causes some logistical problems for delegates. For example, if a pageant is being hosted somewhere that has a mandatory 14 day quarantine on new arrivals the delegates have to budget for an additional two weeks of food and accommodations. Or they may have to quarantine after returning home from the pageant.
But there is a problem with delegate security that has been around since long before the novel coronavirus hit and will be around long after COVID-19 is under control. Let me tell you the story of when I was a judge at an international pageant. This is more so applicable to delegates who are travelling to another country to compete rather than delegates who are travelling within their home country.
This is a firsthand account of what I saw a few years ago when I was a judge at an international pageant. This pageant had delegates fly in from different countries across the globe, from five different continents. Of course, in order to enter the country that hosted the pageant they needed a valid passport. One night I went to the director’s hotel room and I saw two stacks of passports on her nightstand. That immediately made me uneasy. I asked why she had the delegates’ passports and she said it was for security because she would be held responsible if anyone ran off and stayed in the host country illegally.
I’m going on the record as saying that I do NOT believe she had nefarious plans when she took the passports away from the international delegates. Even still though, the logic didn’t make sense. If someone has the resources and/or connections to abscond in another country they could have a fake passport and fake ID made. But even with no ill intentions it was wrong to confiscate passports from the delegates who were coming from outside of the country.
Pageant delegates: LISTEN TO ME! Never, ever hand over your passport to someone. Keep your passport on you or in your hotel vault. Never give anyone else possession of your passport. For your own safety, never let anyone have your ID especially when you are in another country. Also keep in mind that your passport is not yours to hand over to someone else. On both the inside cover and the first page of my passport it is clearly stated that my passport is the property of the Government of Canada. As such, I cannot just give it to someone else. But aside from my passport not being my personal property, it is incredibly unsafe to give someone your passport. Again, I do not believe this particular pageant director had bad intentions when she confiscated anyone’s passport but there are some people/groups who hold fake pageants used to attract beautiful women from around the world who they then force in to prostitution or human trafficking.
I’ve competed internationally and when I competed in the USA the pageant director did not ask for my passport. She knew I was coming from a different country and would have my passport with me but she did not ask to hold on to my passport during the days leading up to the pageant or from the pageant until the day I returned to Canada.
Ladies (and gentlemen competitors), I’m one of you regardless of if we compete in different pageant systems or different countries. I’m a Sash Sister, Sashionista, Sister Queen, Pageant Girl, or whatever term you want to use. I want you all to be safe while travelling. I want each of you to get home safely. I want you to have a safe and enjoyable pageant experience. Fundamental to all of this is your safety. Do not give your passport or any other government issued ID to anyone. Before you leave home make sure to confirm in writing that you will not be asked to hand over government issued ID to any pageant officials upon arriving in the host country. Print out that email so you can show it to any pageant staff who asks for possession of your ID.
We need to watch out for each other. Please listen to what I’m saying. I know from seeing it in person that some pageants will ask for possession of your passport upon your arrival. I also know from personal experience that some pageants do NOT ask for possession of your ID. Be smart and be alert if someone asks for your ID. It’s not your property to just hand over and it’s not safe to just hand it over. Even if the person asking for your ID doesn’t have ill intentions, your passport may not be safe. As I said, the stacks of passports were on the pageant director’s nightstand, not even in the room’s vault. Myself and other female pageant staff had access to the passports. Did hotel staff also have access to the passports when we were out at events and appearances in the weeks leading up to the pageant???
National pageant directors: You need to talk to your pageant delegate about her safety before she leaves home to compete in an international pageant. Parents: You need to talk to your children about safety while abroad. Even if your child is a legal adult she/he may not be aware of the dangers of travelling internationally for a pageant. You need to discuss rights and responsibilities before they leave. Delegates: Use your common sense.
I wish all of my fellow pageant delegates the best in their respective competitions. May you be the best version of yourself, make new friends, have fun, learn about different cultures, stay safe, and return home safe and healthy.