Story by Tamara Tiethoff, News Intern
Photo courtesy of Haleigh Fairbanks
Bright stage lights, high heels, evening gowns, and judges are nothing new to a pageant contestant. Searching for the perfect outfits, practicing for interviews, perfecting a talent, and some workouts here and there are a typical routine when preparing for a pageant. These various activities are nothing new to Miss Capital City, AQ senior Haleigh Fairbanks.
As a child she enjoyed having tea parties with her imaginary friends, playing dress-up, being the cashier at her very own grocery store, and teaching her imaginary classroom of children. At age fifteen, though, she watched the Miss Michigan pageant in Muskegon and fell in love.
“I remember sitting in the audience feeling completely captivated by the level of confidence, intelligence, talent, and beauty on stage. I was hooked and thought maybe I would give it a shot. I signed up for my first local pageant in Saint Clair Shores that following summer and competed as a teen,” explained Fairbanks.
She held the title of Miss Teen Saint Clair Shores and Miss Oakland County’s Outstanding Teen. After she took three years off to find her purpose and grow as a person outside the “pageant world,” she now competes in the Miss divisions. In the Miss Saint Clair Shores pageant, she placed 2nd runner up and in the Miss Stateline pageant placed 1st runner up. The last pageant she competed in was against 24 other girls for the title of Miss Capital City. At the end of it all, she was crowned the winner.
“Being Miss Capital City means a multitude of things to me. First and foremost, I am representing the capital of Michigan and am able to work my platform. My platform is “Building Resiliency Through Positive You Development”. Secondly, this gives me an opportunity to make this year my own. I want to serve others in the community and continue to grow my platform. There is also opportunity to work with people at the capital to pass a bill that is near and dear to my heart,” stated Fairbanks. The bill would ensure that one would have to be at least 18 years old to tan at a salon.
Along with all of the fun that goes along with having a big title, there is also a lot of time and hard work that must be put in.
“There are five phases of competition: interview, swimsuit, on-stage question, talent, and evening gown. In order to prepare, I incorporate each of these things into my everyday life. Whether it’s keeping up with current events, forming opinions, hitting the gym, going to church, selecting my wardrobe, or practicing my talent, it takes a lot of hard work and dedication. It doesn’t mean I don’t sneak a McDonald’s cheeseburger once in awhile, but all in all I would say staying focused on your personal goals is key,” said Fairbanks.
While competing in each pageant Fairbanks never forgets who inspired her from the beginning.
“I met Kirsten Haglund, a former Miss Michigan and Miss America. She was beautiful in every way. I look up to her and to this day admire her faith, kind soul, and her ability to make a true connection with people. She is the kind of title holder I strive to be, a real person who knows that her purpose is to serve others,” explained Fairbanks.
Although winning a title at the end of the competition is always a great reward, Fairbanks is confident that there is so much more to be learned from each pageant she participates in.
“One of the things I love about the Miss America Organization is that it isn’t always about winning a title. In each pageant, I have discovered something new whether it be about myself, others, or what my true purpose is,” stated Fairbanks.
Continuing to follow her passions, Fairbanks looks forward to the many opportunities that may come her way in the future.
“I am competing for the title of Miss Michigan in Muskegon in June. Saying that even just now makes me pinch myself. It is an honor and something that gives me butterflies thinking about it,” exclaimed Fairbanks.
In the words of Fairbanks herself, “competing in pageants is truly a sport. There is nothing like the thrill of being on stage and performing. It is so neat to feel a transformation within yourself each time you compete.”
About the Writer…
Tamara Tiethoff is a nursing major in the UDM/Aquinas program. In the future she hopes to become a neonatal nurse and continue writing on the side. She enjoys staying busy, but in her free time she loves drawing, spontaneous adventures, and coffee shops.