School of Communication and the Arts


Master of Arts in Professional Communication (MA)


Cecil Kramer


pageantry, pageant queens, looking-glass self theory, self-image, self-esteem, qualitative, communication, interviews




Pageantry has existed in society for hundreds of years and is still prevalent within society today. Pageant contestants voluntarily compete in systems to hear what judges have to say about their intellect, talent, and poise. However, the opinions of the judges seem to not be the true influential voice in a pageant queen’s life. Previous research has reported that it is the people closest to us that have the most positive or devastating impact on the way we view ourselves. The question this study sought to answer was, “How have the opinions of others had an impact on the self-image of pageant women?” This study compiled 14 questions that were crafted through the lens of the communication theory, the looking-glass self. After interviewing 11 former pageant queens, the data was then analyzed through Creswell’s six-step process. The results found that family, coaches, directors, fellow pageant contestants, and the pageant industry were the most influential voices in a pageant queen’s life over the course of her reign. The opinion of the judges was not an opinion listed by any of the interviewees to have had a lasting impact on their self-image. These findings implicate how we speak to our inner circle and how they speak about us has the greatest level of influence over the negative or positive formation of one’s self-concept.

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