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Mom's Know Best ...

Dawn Lymberopoulos was a bit surprised when her daughter said she wanted to be in a pageant.
“I was a little apprehensive at first,” Dawn says of the day Emily got an invitation to apply to the National American Miss Pageant. “But I had participated in a Miss Teen USA pageant at 16. So I couldn’t deny her.”
Last year, Emily participated and had so much fun she decided to do it again this year. This time, she won Miss Illinois for her age division. She goes on to compete in the national competition in November.
What did you say (and what did you think) when she first proposed the idea?
I thought the experience would help her to grow in a positive way.
National American Miss is very age-appropriate. They discourage makeup, jewelry and polished nails. They focus more on their natural beauty and who they are. This pageant is more about inner beauty, poise, self-confidence and their ability to communicate.
Did you worry that pageants may somehow change her, make her too concerned with appearances?
I guess there is always a concern that with all the attention a young person gets in a situation like this, it could cause her to become more caught up with her appearance, but in this case it actually taught my daughter that she is beautiful even without all the makeup and things.
That natural beauty comes from within a person.
How is she different from the girls she competes against?
Emily is a typical 13-year-old in many ways. She does however, possess an inner beauty and confidence that I cannot easily explain. The most important things to her are God and friends and family.
What advice did you give her?I told her to do her best. Just before leaving for the pageant, I heard a thought for the day on my favorite radio station. The thought for the day was “Be the change you want to see in the world.” This is a famous quote by Gandhi. I personally had never heard it before that morning. I told Emily, and she took this thought with her to the pageant. On our drive up to Chicago, we stopped at her aunt’s house, who we had not seen for a while. Emily walked in the house and went over to admire some pottery that her aunt had made, and as she stared down at the pottery, to her disbelief, etched in the pottery were the words, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Emily’s shocked and surprised look prompted her aunt to give her the piece of pottery to take with her to the pageant.
Is it hard to watch her lose or to think about the fact that she may lose?
Every experience in life shapes us and molds us into who we become. Even if she had lost the pageant, I believe she would have become a stronger and better person for the experience.
What do you like about the pageants?
I like that they encourage the girls to become leaders, and to serve others by getting involved in their community. They also put more emphasis on inner beauty instead of outward appearance, helping them to like themselves for who they are.
Is there anything you don’t like?
Our experience was a good one. I do have to admit, it can be stressful at times. If you are trying to do everything with excellence and encouraging your child to do her best, this is what can create stress. The demands of family, school and extracurricular activities would create stress in any situation. This is where faith helps.
Dawn Lymberopoulos
Age • 45
Home • Maryville, IL

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