SUMMERSIDE — Four cocktail dresses, an evening gown, high heels and lots of bobby and safety pins.
They are among the staples Ashley Cameron is packing as she prepares to leave later this week to compete in the Miss Teenage Canada Pageant.
Cameron, a recent graduate of Three Oaks Senior High School, leaves Saturday for Toronto, Ont., her first big trip on her own and the first to the country’s largest city.
There, she and 70 other teenaged girls will spend a week touring the city, stopping by Breakfast Television and Much Music and preparing for pageant day on July 26.
Cameron, who was crowned Miss Teenage Prince Edward Island last September, is excited about the pageant and the opportunities it could bring.
“It’s a great experience. No matter the outcome, it’s the experience that matters and the memories you’ve made,” said Cameron, who has also previously held the title of Miss Teen P.E.I. International. “I like pageants because of the experience. It’s nice to go and win the title and come home with it but, at the same time, you have to think that other people would love to be in your place and love to pursue pageants.”
Being in pageants is something that has been a confidence builder for the 18-year-old Summerside resident.
“It has changed me. I used to get stage fright,” said the bubbly and outgoing teen. “I used to not be able to talk in front of large audiences. Now it doesn’t faze me at all. I definitely like being on stage now.”
Cameron said the national pageant and the feeder provincial and regional pageants aren’t just beauty based.
“It’s more your personality they judge it on,” she added. “It’s called a beauty pageant but it’s more your personality. Really, the thing that will help you get the title is to stand out.”
Since being crowned Miss Teenage Prince Edward Island, Cameron has taken to social media — Facebook, Twitter and Instagram — promoting herself and her hope to secure the national title.
Social media, she added, is a vital component of the pageant.
“We have to get people engaged and let them know who we are representing,” said the teen. “From July 19 to the 25th you (the public) can vote for the person from your province. You have to go on to missteenagecanada.com and sign in as a VIP and you can vote for whoever you want.”
Those votes could help Cameron secure a spot in the Top 20 or win the People’s Choice Award, which also secures a spot in the final pageant.
The week leading up to pageant night also includes interviews, photo and video shoots. During that time, the contestants vie for other awards, including the talent award and Miss Congeniality.
There will also be talent and modeling scouts following the girls throughout the week.
“For winning the pageant, you get $30,000 in cash and prizes and I also believe you get a scholarship with it as well,” said Cameron, who is taking a year off from school before deciding on studying to be either a dental assistant or pharmacy technician.”
For more information or to follow her journey, visit missteenageprinceedwardisland.com or missteenagecanada.com.