When 18-year-old Kate Platten heard that she had been named the victor of the Role Model Teen program for the Royal International Miss pageant, she was so overwhelmed with joy that her mind went blank.
“The moment my name got called, I don’t remember anything,” she said in a phone interview. “It was such a state of shock, and I was so excited that my hard work and determination had culminated into my goal.”
The UC Irvine student and 2019 John Burroughs High School alumna had spent months being interviewed, working on community service projects and, of course, strutting across the stage in lavish dresses. So when her efforts led to her win on July 11 in Orlando, Florida, where the final decision came down to her and one of her close friends, she was understandably somewhat overcome.
And Platten is no stranger to pageantry, having competed since she was in 5th grade. Last year, she even nabbed Royal International Miss crown for the Pacific Coast region.
The benefits of the program and those like it, she said, go beyond wearing pretty dresses. Among her reasons for competing are that she has gained confidence and forged close bonds with the other competitors, some of whom are from other countries ― though due to the coronavirus pandemic, the international competitors weren’t able to attend this year.
She has also picked up interviewing skills, having given interviews with panelists since she was 10, and has been able to travel.
“I think there’s a stigma toward pageantry and pageantry girls, and it’s that girls are catty or that moms are crazy,” she said. “I have always advocated to show the positive sides of pageantry.”
Royal International Miss’ Role Model program honors girls and women for their community service. Platten was heavily involved with her college sorority’s Service for Sight foundation, which raises funds for the visually impaired and works with the Blind Children’s Learning Center in Santa Ana.
In January, the foundation raised more than $14,000 in three days. More than $1,000 of that was raised by Platten.
“I’ve seen the impact that I can have in my community. I’m able to rally hundreds of people behind me, and I know that I can do that on an international level if you give me the chance,” she recalled saying in her interview.
Platten admits that sometimes people give her odd looks when she tells them she competes in pageants, but believes it’s “part of the job.”
“There’s a lot of ideas about pageant girls, but once you dig deeper, I feel like [we’re] the most accomplished because we have more to prove,” she explained.
Platten herself is an example of that drive. She’s a double major in business administration and criminology, working as a law intern with the nonprofit Parents, Educators/Teachers & Students in Action. She will also continue to volunteer with both the visually impaired community and an international service project planned by the pageant organization.
She’s also not done competing.
While Platten isn’t planning on joining the Royal International Miss pageant again next year, aside from crowning next year’s winner and potentially serving as a staff member, she wants to compete in a new pageant organization. This, she said, will let another teen take her shot at the crown.
“I already had my moment,” she said. “I can appreciate other girls having their moment and just cheer for them.”