Savarino cultivates confidence and community through pageantry


Photo by Lea Rivel '22

Juliette Savarino ’22, Miss Westport Teen USA 2020, has been preparing extensively in areas like communication and confidence in order to compete in her first major pageant early next year, Miss Teen Connecticut.

Staples students have a variety of talents, hobbies and skills: acting, music, sports, art, STEM and more. But an area of extracurricular activity that many students may not have previously gotten a look into is the world of pageantry. 

Juliette Savarino ’22 currently holds the title of Miss Westport Teen USA 2020. She is preparing to  compete as a state finalist in the Miss Connecticut teen competition, which will occur in early 2021.

According to Savarino, pageantry typically has a bad reputation, partially due to the lack of understanding of what they really are. In reality, it’s much more than just shimmering ball gowns or packing on tons of makeup. 

“People’s minds go immediately to ‘Toddlers and Tiaras,’ which isn’t a good representation,” Savarino said. “Pageants empower both boys and girls to fulfill their dreams, and really helps fuel determination.

Pageants have been reformed so that the competitions are about talent and intelligence in addition to beauty. All together, the Connecticut pageant consists of an interview, activewear portion and a formal portion. 

In order to prepare for the variety of the competition and be ready for any questions that come her way, Savarino is working with a pageant coach to help perfect her speaking and presenting skills.

“The interview portion of the pageant makes or breaks [the results], so being able to articulate yourself is very important,” she said. “I want to make sure that I am confident in the way I speak.”

She also recognizes and values the social aspect of pageantry. It is not just about the title and competition, but also about the people she will meet while going through this process. 

There is so much more to pageants than beautiful dresses. [Pageants] really help cultivate drive, which is so important for young kids to [have] so that they believe in themselves.

“This new opportunity will bring me such a great experience I will be able to grow strong bonds with the other girls competing while also solidifying skills to do better in [the future],” she said. 

There is a lot of work that goes into the preparation, but Savarino remains extremely excited about this opportunity, as pageantry has been something she has always admired. 

“I loved watching pageants as a young girl and dreamed of [competing] one day […] but I was never confident enough in myself to actually summon the courage to do one,” she said. “This year, I have really shaped up mentally and finally felt ready.”

She’s not only thankful for her title and community but for the experience of preparing and competing as well. She believes this process will help her cultivate not only pageantry skills, but life skills as well. 

“I think that the experience is very valuable […] This pageant has really made me think about how I want to pursue my passions and I think that it has done wonders for my mindset.”

Overall, Savarino wants people to recognize the importance of pageantry beyond the stereotype that many people hold. These competitions not only teach participants the importance of hard work but also help them develop important skills, recognize the values of community and volunteering and coach them in communication. 

“There is so much more to pageants than beautiful dresses,” Savarino said. “[Pageants] really help cultivate drive, which is so important for young kids to [have] so that they believe in themselves.”