In the 33-year history of the Miss Universe teen competition, one sister has crowned another only three times. Number three happened last month in Mulvane, Kan.
Reigning Miss Kansas Teen USA Madison Moore, of Lawrence, crowned her sister, Malerie Moore, a junior at Blue Valley Southwest High School.
Neither girl grew up with the vision of wearing a crown. Madison, 18, is an athlete, a former competitive swimmer. She was 5’ 11” by the time she was 14, so her family started wondering if she’d enjoy modeling in addition to sports.
A pageant coach suggested that participating in a pageant would give Madison a taste of the modeling world. She competed in her first competition in 2012 and loved it.
Malerie, 16, a gymnast and dancer, watched her sister compete and the two began dreaming of a “sister crowning sister” moment.
Their parents say that two rounds of braces kept Malerie out of pageants until last year, when she finally stepped on stage to compete against Madison. Madison won the 2016 crown, but Malerie made it to the top five — Madison graciously thanked the judges for her sister’s placement in her acceptance speech.
Madison, a political science major at the University of Kansas, says she knows it sounds cheesy, but when Malerie won the 2017 crown and Madison placed the crown on her sister’s head, it was a dream come true.
“We’re the best of friends,” Madison says. If her younger sister had won first? “It would’ve stung for a second and then I would’ve been so excited for her.”
Madison says they each understood going into the competition that the judges are “not picking the best girl, they’re picking their favorite.” And that’s good — knowing that actually builds confidence, she said.
The girls’ father, Troy Moore, says of Malerie’s win, “Her confidence, poise and preparedness was blazingly obvious. It’s tough standing on stage and being judged, especially as a teenager, so we always believed that there were so many more character-building lessons learned. The crown is just validation of the hard work and a really cool bonus.”
Mother Angela Moore adds, “Pageantry is a very subjective process, so while we always hoped the girls would have that experience as a title holder, we also knew they would learn a lot about themselves and how to carry themselves with or without a crown, which was very important to us.”
Self-confidence, poise, and goal-setting are preached in the Moore household.
“It’s a misconception that you just have to be pretty to win,” Madison says. “You have to be well-spoken, personable, relatable, and a good, genuine person. Being surrounded by beautiful, smart, talented women adds to your confidence that you’re part of that group.”
The Olathe family enlisted neighbors and family members to help the girls practice their interview skills — the interview is one of three equally-scored competitions within the pageant, along with swimsuit and evening gown.
Malerie, a member of American Youth Ballet, is in rehearsal for the “Nutcracker,” to be performed at Johnson County Community College later this month.
“I think it’s really important for people to realize that once you win you don’t just walk around in pretty dresses, you actually get to do things to better your community, so I think that’s a common misconception.”
The Miss Kansas Teen USA prize package includes three scholarships, most notably one for $48,000 to Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Mo. It also includes gowns, shoes, make-up, photo shoots, and participation in the national Miss Teen USA competition.
Malerie says her ultimate dream is to win at the national competition. “I think that even just being able to go and compete at Miss Teen USA is such a cool thing that very few people actually get to do, so I’m really excited to go.”
Contact Anne Kniggendorf at email@example.com or follow her @annekniggendorf.