The beauty behind the Tiger

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 10, 2006

She was six when she was in her first pageant at Westside Elementary. Now, at the age 17, Rachel Tucker’s level of competition has become more difficult and more involved than pretty bows and fluffy dresses.

Today, Tucker will head to Montgomery to begin preparing for the 2006 Alabama Junior Miss Pageant.

“The actual pageant isn’t until next Friday,” she said. “But I will be there for a week learning the fitness routine, the opening number and the poise routine.”

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Since being named Marengo County’s Junior Miss in June 2005, Tucker said she has been in heavy training for the state competition.

“In December, I started working out for the physical fitness part with my dad,” she said, “Then I watch the news with my mom everyday and she asks me questions to keep up with the current events.”

For her talent, Tucker will play a piano rendition of George Posca’s “By the Sea.”

“It was an easy piece to cut down to 60 seconds,” she giggled.

Although this is Tucker’s biggest pageant experience, she is no stranger to being in the spotlight. For the past two years, Tucker played the role of Demopolis High School mascot, Demi-T.

“I tried out at the end of my sophomore year. I was always loud, cheerful and outgoing at school,” she said. “Being the tiger definitely helped with my stamina on the fitness part. And I’ll be able to go out there and meet the girls and the judges with no problem because I’ll be just as outgoing as I was in the tiger suit.”

Although she enjoys watching, the “little people” in pageants, Tucker said the more mature contests place an heavier focus on intelligence rather than beauty.

“I really wouldn’t consider myself a ‘pageant girl,'” Tucker said. “But then I realized that the poise and pretty part only counted for about 15 percent of the final score. This is more about scholars.”

Even though Tucker hopes to win scholarships for her studies at the University of Alabama next year, she is prepared to simply be in the atmosphere.

“I am excited. I have butterflies right now, but I am ready to get there and meet all the girls. I learn something every time just from going,” she said. “If I win, I will have a lot of responsibilities and duties as Alabama Junior Miss. I’ll have to go to different activities and spend time in different places. If I don’t win, I still have to be ready for the next Marengo County Junior Miss, because I will have to present there.”

As a freshman at Alabama, Tucker said she absolutely plans on auditioning to be ‘Big Al,” but has no definite plans to continue pageantry.

“If they have pageants at Alabama, then I might just do them for fun,” she said. “A lot of girls watch Miss America or whatever and want to be them, but I never really thought about it.”

Even though Tucker has learned to spray hairspray on her face to keep her makeup in place and on her legs to keep long gowns from sticking to them when she walks, she has yet to learn how to conquer sore cheeks.

“You have to keep smiling for such a long time,” she said as she rubbed her cheeks. “After a while it just gets hard.”