LEXINGTON, Ky. (FOX 56) – People have strong feelings about beauty pageants. Some individuals insist pageants build up their confidence and self-esteem, while others say the process is degrading.

Pure International, a pageant company, is fighting that stereotype with pageant queens of all shapes, sizes, ages, and genders.

“You can be beautiful no matter what your size is, or what your age is. It doesn’t matter,” said Yolanda Gould, Kentucky State Director for Pure International Pageants.

Pure pageants welcome men and women, young and old, and all shapes and sizes. During every competition, the organization emphasizes public speaking and community service over appearance. Those values are what convinced University of Kentucky student, Gillian Clark, to enter.

“I had grown up watching ‘Toddlers and Tiaras,’ and I always kind of thought that looked fun. But I guess I was too scared, not confident enough, and felt I wasn’t the right body type,” said Clark.

After competing and placing top 10 in a Pure International Pageant under the “Miss” category, the geology student gained the courage to conquer her self-doubt.

“Just knowing that I have that confidence, makes be do better in school and makes me feel like a more positive human being,” said Clark.

Now, she is carrying that positivity into the community by helping at COVID-19 clinics, writing thank you letters to pilots and flight attendants, and leading the UK geology club.

Clark wants to remind everyone, you can be a beauty queen. So, no matter your age, weight, or gender, if you want to represent Kentucky in a Pure Pageant, the next competition is March 11th and 12th in Carrollton, Ky.