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Prospect teen sees pageants as college prep

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By Alix Mattingly

Grace and beauty have led to scholarship money for one local teen.

Prospect resident Bailey Wharton was recently crowned Miss River City Outstanding Teen. This was the third pageant in which Bailey, 16, has ever competed. She won the first pageant she entered, the Miss Central Kentucky Outstanding Teen.

That crowning allowed her to compete in last year’s Miss Kentucky Outstanding Teen, where she was third runner up.

With one state competition already under her belt, Wharton is ready for a bigger crown.

“I feel very confident this year,” Wharton said. “I feel like it will be a good year for me because I know what my strengths and weaknesses are.”

For part of the competition, Wharton had to pick a topic and take a stance on it to form a platform. She chose to join the fight against skin cancer with her platform entitled “Take A Stand, Don’t Tan: Skin Cancer Awareness and Prevention.” By encouraging teens to find their “inner glow” Wharton hopes to decrease the number of people using tanning beds.

“I want my peers to know that what you do to your skin today will affect you tomorrow,” Wharton said. “I just want them to be safe in the sun.”

To achieve this goal, Wharton has plans to visit Kentucky lawmakers when they return to session in January to encourage them to pass a bill limiting tanning bed visits for young teens. The bill would make a regulation that people under the age of 18 cannot use a tanning bed without a note from a doctor and consent from a parent or guardian.

Wharton offers a tanning alternative by operating her own spray tan business called Bronze by Bailey. All of the proceeds from the business Wharton runs out of her garage benefits the Melanoma Foundation. With a dermatologist for a father, Bailey has always been aware of the dangers of skin cancer.

“When I was choosing my platform I thought it would be perfect because I know a lot about (skin cancer),” Wharton said.

Wharton began competing in local pageants after she was approached by a family friend who told her about the scholarships associated with the Miss Outstanding Teen pageants. The program is coined as the “little sister” of the Miss America pageants and is for girls ages 13 to 17.

According to their website, the Miss Outstanding Teen program has made more than $5 million in scholarships available to contestants. This is an added bonus for Wharton’s family.

“It’s such a big program for teens to be aware of, there are so many scholarships,” Wharton’s mother, Dawn, said. “If she does well at state she can almost have her undergrad paid for. We want to see that she has a pay off other than a crown.”

Since Wharton has won a regional competition, she is now eligible to compete for Miss Kentucky Outstanding Teen. The pageant will take place June 13 and 14 in Somerset. The contestants will be judged in four areas: fitness, evening gown, talent and interview. Competing in these areas has made Wharton a well-rounded young lady, according to her mother.

“We’ve been impressed with the program,” Dawn said. “She’s been watching news, keeping grades up and participating in community service, and that broadens her whole scope.”

And with the state competition just six months away, Wharton is realizing that pageants are more than just looks.

“The first time my mom came to me about pageants I thought it was all dresses, smiles and world peace,” Wharton said. “But it’s given me money options for school, it’s a lot more than just smile and wave. It helps me grow as a person.”

Email us about this story at amattingly@oldhamera.com.