It's that time of year when state titleholders are doing their final photoshoots and the beginning of the end starts to really feel real.
The farewell photoshoot is a benchmark moment in a titleholder's reign that represents the transformation from the freshly crowned girl, full of eagerness and spring-like energy, to a woman who has served her state and community and is proud of the legacy she has built and is ready to punctuate this chapter with an epic photo to capture it all.
The experience itself is often pretty emotional (as expected) and it's really hard to keep the images a secret before the big reveal - whether that is the program cover, a social media post, or part of the pageant week's production media.
This may come as a shock (but probably not) but I was a bit of a rule-breaker when I was Miss Kansas 😅 I wasn't technically supposed to have a farewell shoot - it just isn't a thing in Kansas - but I wanted to commemorate my two years with an epic photoshoot with my teen queen. I didn't think the team I wanted to use would be approved, so I decided to ask for forgiveness instead and coordinate the farewell shoot of my dreams.
Tres Jolie hooked me up with the most gorgeous liquid-beaded golden gown, LaRue Artistry slayed my face, Jessica with Love is in the Hair made my hair come to life, and my good friend Aaron Patton captured it all on camera. Finally giving full credit where credit is due
I was right, the dream team was *not* approved and I wasn't allowed to use my farewell images in the program book or post them while I was still the titleholder. So instead, I set up a sheet as a backdrop in my kitchen and took farewell photos on self-timer as my official program book farewell photo. 🤣 Honestly for the circumstances, it didn't turn out half bad after a little bit of editing magic (the before and after on the right)
Now, the experience in my kitchen was not the happy-feely-emotional farewell shoot, it was more of a "let's just get this over with" sentiment, but it makes me all the more emo when I see current titleholders posting their behind-the-scenes from their capstone photoshoots because I know how important it is to have that special moment to mark the end of this special year.
It's not just that they're stunning and sparkly and literally the embodiment of the glow-up transformation the Miss America Organization lends itself to - it's that it means we're entering the final chapter with this class of women and in the next couple of months, we'll say goodbye to them as our Miss State's and hello to new queens while we make sure we're following their personal accounts on IG to keep up with them beyond the crown.
I was always told there were three "seasons" of being a state titleholder: 1. Getting ready for Miss America, 2. School tour / community service, 3. Getting ready for the next girl.
That last season can be hard to prepare for and it's the one all of our state queens are in now.
Yes, you're continuing your service, you're making sure to still post on social media and stay active, but also you're making sure fundraising is in check, you're nurturing the next class of delegates, you're prepping material for workshop and orientation, you're picking out your final performance song. There's the admin stuff too - writing final thank you notes, visiting sponsors to get their program book ads and photos submitted, re-upping commitment from sponsors for the next year, and preparing the space for an unknown person to be whisked away into the magic just like you were just barely a year ago.
It's a very surreal thing --
All of a sudden, it's almost over.
AND to add on top of all of that? Everyone - and I mean EVERYONE - is asking you, "So! What's next?"
I'm here to tell you straight up: There's an insane amount of pressure to have something big on the other side. But you don't have to have anything figured out if that's not your jam.
If you do? Awesome. If it's something but it doesn't feel "big", that's fine too. If you're going to take a break and figure things out as you go? Wonderful.
Let's break apart the pressure to immediately jump into the next thing after what will likely go down in your life's history as the single weirdest year you've ever lived.
Here's my advice for our state queens who are entering their final season:
Stay present through these final weeks. Go through your mental bucket list of everything you wanted to do while you have this title and make sure you've done your big ones - no regrets. Wrap up any loose ends so that the next queen enters the space at least a little bit smoother than you did last year. As you're finalizing plans and prepping for the transition, take some time to really think about the support you need as you step out from under the crown. Have a conversation with your different support teams - family, friends, and the state volunteers you work with right now. Of course, things may not be exactly as you anticipate them, but it's important to give your support systems a game plan on how to support you when once again, your world changes overnight.
My personal favorite thing (if you have the means) is to have some sort of trip planned after you finish your final duties. It's a great distraction because listen - you earned it.
Soak up all of your "lasts" and final moments of a strange and wonderful year, and as you start to think about the other side, let me know if you'd like to chat about life beyond the crown. 🤍