It’s not the glistening tiara nor the royal purple-lined sash that make Burroughs High School senior Kate Platten relish her newly earned title and role as Royal International Miss Teen California.
No, the 17-year-old winner of the statewide competition held in Fullerton on Feb. 17 said the experience of taking part in the event means more to her than crown jewels.
“I started pageants when I was in fifth grade, and I’ve run into so many girls [in pageants] involved in so many extracurriculars,” Platten said. “They’re role models for their community, they’re building schools in Uganda and they’re making their own start-ups. That is what pageantry is. It’s about doing something bigger than yourself and having all these sisters that can help you achieve it.”
Platten’s teen division featured entrants ranging from 17 to 19 years old and included categories such as formal-wear modeling, an interview and a talent performance.
“The formal wear is based on poise, grace, confidence, and it’s all in your walk, smile and how you present yourself on stage,” Platten said. “The [other categories] give you a chance to present yourself to the judges and the audience.”
After those events, Platten excelled in the talent portion of the pageant, where she won first place for her rendition of the song “Think of Me” from the musical “Phantom of the Opera.”
The song is one that Platten has loved since middle school, when she dreamed of portraying Christine Daaé, the musical’s female star.
“Finally, when I got older, and I could actually sing and hit the notes, I knew I needed to learn ‘Phantom of the Opera,’” Platten said. “I needed to learn “Think of Me.” I needed to perform it for people because I just think it’s an amazing musical.”
With the recent victory, Platten moves on to the Royal International Miss pageant in Orlando, Fla., which will begin July 6.
“She works very hard and is deserving,” said Platten’s mother, Gabriella, an administrative secretary for Burbank Unified. “She’s an honors student, a Girl Scout, she’s a volunteer and now she’s Miss Teen California.”
Kate Platten said she is not only thankful for the pageant experience, but is also a vocal supporter of a system that’s been scrutinized as being sexist and portrayed negatively, according to her, by television shows such as “Toddlers & Tiaras.”
“There’s a very big stigma associated with pageantry since I was competing in fifth grade,” she said. “I’ve seen a lot, and I’ve participated in a lot … Over the past seven years, I’ve never felt discouraged about myself or who I am or sexualized or discouraged about my beauty or my confidence.”
She added, “In fact, it’s taught me so much, and I have so many life-long skills and friendships I’ve made.”
Pageantry has also offered Kate Platten many philanthropic opportunities.
She said she normally volunteers for two to three charity appearances per month on top of being a student with a 4.8 GPA, a Key Club member, a member of Burroughs’ inaugural teen court as well as the school’s Powerhouse choir and dance ensemble.
One of her favorite events was coaching young girls at the Miss Amazing pageant, which is dedicated to special-needs children.