Every year, starting all the way back in 1997, judges from throughout the school are randomly selected to evaluate the chosen male champions entertaining the Juniata population in a charity fund raiser and mock beauty pageant dubbed Mr. Juniata. Each class is represented by two contestants who are evaluated based on their exemplification of what I concluded are the principal qualities one must have in order to be awarded the prestigious title of “Mr. Juniata”:
Talent, Dress, and Schmooze.
To further my understanding of this innocuous JC ritual, I managed to infiltrate the pageant, enlisting as one of the champions for the junior class.
At first, I didn’t think much about what it meant to do a mock beauty pageant. I knew I would go on stage, probably make a fool of myself for a good cause, and have fun with my friends. If I really thought about it though, I felt a little concerned about whether a beauty pageant was the best activity for someone like me who sometimes struggled with social anxiety, but I wanted to be a good sport when I was nominated. My perspective changed once the seven other champions from the freshman, sophomore, and senior classes and I began meeting a few times a week to practice for the main event.
Nervousness started settling in the first time I realized just how often I would be dancing in front of at least 100 of my peers. However, I realized there was no backing out at this point. My embarrassment would be supporting charity, so that was a plus.
With only a few minor road bumps, I made it all the way to the dress rehearsal, blending in well with a team of talented people, all having fun while working hard to support better mental health, which I’m sure many college students at Juniata can get down with.
To say I was nervous when the show finally began was an understatement, but luckily I wasn’t doing it alone. Looking back, the fun I had outweighed my nervousness. It was a blast, and after weeks of practice it felt natural to go up on stage and just have fun.
For me, the best part about the whole experience wasn’t winning any title or cool social standing. I may not have won, but I definitely felt like a winner having met the people I did and making some good memories. I tend to take competition pretty seriously, yet never once did I feel like I was competing with the other guys. Maybe there’s something about dressing up in goofy outfits and making a fool out of yourself on stage that brings people closer together, but who knows?
If you’re a guy reading this, thinking whether or not Mr. Juniata, or any other show or activity that involves putting yourself out there is for you, do what I did and just jump in.
-Theo Weinberger ’21, Communication POE, California Skater Dude