BILLINGS - An all-natural beauty pageant is sweeping Montana. It's free and it's for ages 0-99+.
That means you’re never too old to let your inner princess out, and maybe even represent an entire state as the next reigning queen.
“There’s a stereotype on beauty queens and pageants. I have been proven wrong on all the stereotypes. It’s not like the glitz you see on TV or any of that,” said Amy Chartier.
Chartier of Helena is the reigning Montana Universal Beauty Queen in the 29+ age division. At 45, she spends her free time traveling the globe competing in pageants with her 14-year-old daughter Kaylee, who’s also a reigning queen.
“It is a natural, family-oriented pageant. It brings out strengths in women and teens and children and all of the good things,” said Chartier.
Their family’s confidence is hard to miss. It’s something the judges picked up on. In fact, Chartier rose from preliminary to state to a top 10 finisher at worlds in Houston.
“They asked if you had one chance to change anything in your life, what would it be? My answer was nothing. I am who I am today because of my experiences,” said Chartier.
Montana's state director Lily Aimone says that’s exactly the idea: Be yourself.
"This pageant is really good because it takes a little girl and it gives her reason, it gives her responsibility, and it lets her bring out her personality without any judgments," Aimone said.
Chartier said before her success she had doubts about her place in the pageant world.
"I was hesitant at first being an older and a bigger girl at that, but it has given me more confidence," she said. "When I went to worlds, all the women were in their 30’s and up, skinny, big, confident, loud, exciting women. They were just probably some of the most real women I've met in a really long time."
Many like Amy and Kaylee travel as mother-daughter duos.
“We push each other to excel, which I really enjoy. It creates memories. Memories are huge. You only have one chance to make a memory. It's priceless to me," said Chartier. “This is not something I had on my bucket list, let alone to win it, let alone be reigning queen for a year, all because I stepped out of my comfort zone.”
Now Montanans have the chance to step out of their comfort zone too at a state preliminary pageant this winter in Billings, Missoula, Helena, or Deer lodge.
The Billings preliminary is Feb. 25 at the Billings Hotel and Convention Center. For statewide dates and locations, visit the Montana Our Little Miss Facebook page. To register, visit this link.