She said she slept through some parts of that first pageant, but as she got older, she blossomed and was soon well on her way to earning titles and trophies as she grew and learned from life on the beauty pageant circuit.
But the 21-year-old former model said she learned more from pageant life than just how to smile brightly and wow the judges.
“It made me outgoing,” Wilson said. “It does boost your self confidence. I like the glitz and glamour.”
With the popularity of shows such as “Toddlers and Tiaras” and “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo,” Wilson said many have gotten the wrong impression about the girls who compete in pageants and their families.
“That’s not what pageants are all about,” Wilson said. “It’s a bad representation. It’s not at all what we’re like. It’s entertaining and funny, but it’s not how the pageant world is.”
Wilson, owner of Abral’s Classy and Sassy Formal Wear on Nelson Street in Cartersville, now uses her experience to coach other pageant hopefuls.
“I turned my passion into my business,” Wilson said.
The world of beauty pageants is lined with sequins, ruffles and crowns and the allure draws children of all ages.
“It’s almost like you get to go to prom ever time you have a pageant,” said Lauren Sherwood, of Adairsville, who has been competing in pageants since the age of 12.
Mandy Bryson said her daughter Makenna Grace, 9, approached her two years ago with an interest in entering a pageant.
“She came to me and begged,” Bryson said.
In addition to teaching her daughter self confidence, pageants have given her time with her daughter.
“It’s good mommy and me time,” Bryson said.
She said Abral’s Classy and Sassy, which has a selection of pageant wear, as well as prom, formal and tuxedo wear, was helpful in getting her daughter started.
“You come to a store like Abral’s and she points you in the right direction,” Bryson said.
Abral’s is hosting the Cupcake Cuties Beauty Pageant Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Cartersville Civic Center and while contestants will vie for $2,500 in prizes, all will receive a crown just for participating.
Registration for Cupcake Cuties Beauty Pageant is open until Friday. For information call (770) 386-7766.
“Every kid wants to be a princess and this is their chance,” said Wilson. “They can expect Candyland extravagance.”