DENHAM SPRINGS — Bailey Hidalgo, 14, had never participated in pageants before.
A lover of sports, Hidalgo concentrated on basketball, track, volleyball and cheerleading.
“I remember I used to not want to do my hair or makeup,” Bailey said.
But times have changed. In 2011, Bailey saw an advertisement for the Miss Louisiana TEEN USA pageant and decided to give it a try.
“I was tired of looking so plain, and wanted to try something no one else was doing,” Bailey said.
So Bailey embarked on her first pageant, not knowing whether she would win or lose.
“Before then, I did not know how to walk in heels,” Bailey laughed. “I was used to tennis shoes and cleats.”
During that first pageant, Bailey, then 13, placed in the top 13.
On Oct. 27, Bailey took home the top prize when she was crowned Miss Louisiana TEEN USA 2013 at the Heymann Performing Arts Center in Lafayette.
Bailey, the daughter of Kerry and Ashley Hidalgo, is a freshman at Denham Springs High School.
She competed against 29 other contestants for the title of Miss Louisiana TEEN USA 2013, and will participate in the webcast Miss TEEN USA pageant in the summer. She and her family will get to share the experience at Atlantis in the Bahamas, she said.
Her mother said Bailey was the youngest contestant to participate in the pageant this year, and the second 14-year-old to win the title.
“I’m still trying to soak it all up,” Ashley Hidalgo said of her daughter’s recent win.
Her daughter’s tenacity doesn’t surprise her though.
“She goes after what she wants,” Ashley Hidalgo said.
In the sixth grade, Bailey wanted to join the basketball team but had never played. That didn’t stop her, Ashley Hidalgo said.
Bailey made the team.
The same was true when Bailey decided she wanted to play volleyball, her mother said.
The preparations for the pageant began long before the summer.
Bailey attended Couture Fashion Week in New York City in February, and won the Miss Camellia City Pageant in Slidell this summer.
The pageant was a preliminary pageant to Miss Teen USA.
She also models gowns for Precious Formals, she said.
To prepare herself for her first pageant, Bailey said, she practiced walking and doing her own makeup and reviewed possible interview questions once a week for two hours.
While looking for a pageant dress, Bailey and her mother met her pageant coach.
“My favorite thing about pageants is definitely the interview and the evening gown competitions,” Bailey said. “Also, you meet a lot of people doing this.”
When she is not preparing for pageants, Bailey keeps herself busy with schoolwork, volleyball, modeling, working out and acting as an athletic trainer for the football team.
After graduating from Denham Springs High School, she plans to become a pediatrician, a career that has been a longtime goal because of her deep love for children, her mother said.
“Being able to help kids would be a great opportunity for me,” Bailey said, adding that she currently works with the nonprofit organization Kids for Kops.
That program helps teach children about the many ways law enforcement officers help them and their families every day, she said.
The organization and its purpose are close to Bailey’s heart, she said. Her father, Kerry Hidalgo, is a Baton Rouge police officer.
“I definitely look up to my dad,” Bailey said. “He goes out there risking his life every day for people he doesn’t even know. He is amazing.”
As Miss Louisiana TEEN USA, Bailey looks forward to traveling her home state, making public appearances and preparing for the national competition next year.
She said she hopes to make new friends and spend time educating youth about her platform, Kids for Kops.
Bailey said she would also like to talk to her peers around the state about bullying and peer pressure and hopes to be an outstanding role model.
As Bailey looks forward to competing this summer, she doesn’t seem worried.
“I think I will do pretty well,” Bailey said. “I’m not going to be too hard on myself. As long as I keep up with my schoolwork and watch what I eat, I’ll do fine,” she said.
The Miss UNIVERSE, Miss USA and Miss TEEN USA specials are produced by the Miss Universe Organization, a Donald J. Trump and NBCUniversal joint venture.
To learn more about Bailey’s activities or to book her for an event, log on to her Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/MissLouisianaTeenUSA or on Twitter @RealMissLATeen.