The pageant world is more than just pretty little girls in pretty little dresses and Freedom Bates, 7, of Fredericktown, conquered the challenge bringing home five trophies, an overall title and a golden ticket to compete at nationals in Hollywood, California.
Freedom's pageant career began in 2016 when she was chosen to compete in the National American Miss: 2017 Missouri Princess Pageant for the first time.
"This pageant is designed to help build confidence, communication skills and life skills that can be used in the work place, such as interviews, resume building and basic etiquette," Freedom's father Scott Bates said. "After many long and arduous hours of gathering sponsors from the local area, Freedom attended the National American Miss Finals in June of 2017."
Scott said even though she did not make it as a finalist in 2017, Freedom was asked to attend again in 2018 as a returning state finalist.
"After another year of hard work and help from several local businesses, family and friends Freedom was able to attend both the National American Miss State Finals and the Miss Missouri Princess again this year in June," Scott said. "The confidence that Freedom gained from attending the competition in 2017 really helped to boost her standing this year. She was more controlled, more confident and used much better etiquette."
Scott said Freedom entered into several optional contests including Casual Wear Modeling Contest, the Spotlight Contest, the Photogenic Contest, Runway Modeling Contest and the Best Thank You Card contest.
Freedom said her favorite part about pageants is getting dressed up in the fancy dresses and she gets excited to perform because it is fun to get in front of people.
"Freedom loves being in front of people and it gives her a sense of being in the real world, learning to be a team player and getting the confidence she needs to move up in life," Freedom's mother Mandy Bates said.
Scott admitted at first he was skeptical about spending that amount of money on pageants.
"But after some thought I came to the conclusion that if she wanted to compete, it would be no different than her playing soccer," Scott said. "NAM (National American Miss) is a wonderful program and being able to support Freedom through it makes it cool to be a 'Pageant Dad.'"
Freedom not only received a trophy for being a state finalist this year, she brought home a trophy for Outstanding Program Performance, 2018 4th Runner Up, Runway Model 3rd Runner Up, Best Thank-You 1st Runner Up and Top Overall Finalist placing her in the top ten contestants and giving her a Golden ticket to compete in Hollywood at the national level.
Freedom said it felt really good to win but that she is going to take a year off and compete again the following year.
Unfortunately, Freedom and her family decided not to attend the National Competition in Hollywood due to the event falling on the week of Thanksgiving and the cost ending up more than expected.