In the world of beauty pageants, there is an air of pragmatism surrounding some of the contestants that extends beyond the rhinestone tiaras and Ipana smiles.
“It’s a business. It’s a system,” explains Jo Shannon Baldwin, who was Miss Abilene in the recent 1981 Miss Texas Pageant conducted in Fort Worth. This happened to be Baldwin’s third appearance in the Miss Texas extravaganza. Last year, she was Miss White Settlement; the year before, Miss Fort Worth.
“Abilene, White Settlement, and Fort Worth are three of the top paying contests in the state,” says Baldwin, who freely admits she’s never lived in Abilene. “The Fort Worth pageant gives you a $1250 scholarship and a $2000 wardrobe if you win.
“Miss White Settlement gets a $250 scholarship and a $2500 wardrobe. For winning Miss Abilene, 1 got a $1000 scholarship and a $2500 wardrobe.
“So even if you don’t win Miss Texas, you can win these local pageants and come away with more than you walked in with. I don’t plan to keep this up forever, of course. I want to eventually go into corporate PR or television news broadcasting. Either way, 1 figure I’ve benefitted by having the exposure I’ve gotten in these pageants. I consider myself an opportunist.”