Miss Victoria crowned (video)
July 13, 2013 at 2:13 a.m.
Updated July 14, 2013 at 2:14 a.m.
Hours before the Miss Victoria Pageant began, a few dozen butterflies began to strum from the depth of Taylor Bearden's stomach.
She wasn't nervous.
She was excited.
"Just so you know," she said, looking up at the woman curling her long, blonde hair, "I'm kind of wiggly."
But the 9-year-old who was 2011 Little Miss titleholder wasn't worried about it.
"Just shake it off," she said with a giant grin on her face.
Thirty-two girls took the stage Saturday to compete in the 44th annual Miss Victoria Pageant.
Four were crowned.
The pageant is divided by age into four categories - Little Miss, Young Miss, Junior Miss and Miss.
The contestants competed in formal wear and casual wear modeling competitions and answered questions from the judges.
Elizabeth Huddleston, assistant director of the pageant, said public speaking is a large stakeholder in the competition.
"We like to emphasize that how you speak and what you say is very important," she said. "The Miss Victoria pageant looks for someone who is going to shine in the community."
Crowned titleholders also chose a platform to promote during their reign.
"Community service is a big part of being a crown holder," Huddleston said. "It's important to be a role model."
Previous winners have raised awareness for causes such as hunger, animal welfare and cancer.
In 2011, Bearden raised almost $4,000 to highlight the effects of bullying, a struggle she dealt with in school.
"Older kids made fun of me and called me names, and I didn't want to go to school," she said. "I didn't like it, and I didn't want anyone else to get bullied."
Bearden said due to her campaign she sees a lot less bullying at her school.
Huddleston said the judges are ultimately looking for contestants that will make a difference in the community and make Victoria shine.
"You have to be someone who anyone in the community would be happy to say, 'That's Miss Victoria.'"