Parker County Today May 2016 - Page 78

W hen she was 5 years old, Selma’s mother entered her in her first beauty contest, or what we would now call a pageant. “My mother thought I was shy,” she reminisced. “I was in a bathing suit and I won.” With the rise of beauty pageants and the very popular TLC series Toddlers & Tiaras, these contests are not often portrayed in a very flattering light. Instead, the minute many hear the word “pageant” they immediately think drama, toddlers in a tantrum and mothers who need a reality check. When Selma Johnson first began her beauty pageant days, it wasn’t just about being the prettiest. It was much more than that. “I had to walk the stage and then back and my mother just told me to smile,” Johnson said. “So that’s what I did.” After her debut, Selma continued participating until she was 18 and credits many of the skills that she has today to her time in pageants. “I enjoyed it. It wasn’t so much a beauty pageant as it was a learning experience,” she said. “I learned a lot of life skills. How to sit and walk. How to communicate better with business people. Getting all that experience before I was 18 was fabulous.” She was also able to get a few part-time jobs out of it. She modeled in the window of a store in downtown Fort Worth every Saturday from 9-5. “I got paid five dollars for the day and I got to pick out an outfit,” she explained. She was crowned Miss Recreation of Fort Worth when she was 14. “Winning that one,” she said, “I was the youngest when I won, so that was probably the biggest one for me.” When she was in high school, she won Miss Flame of River Oaks and then went on to place 2nd in Miss Flame of Fort Worth. Selma was also the runner-up in Miss Auto of Fort Worth. She modeled up until she was 20 after she had moved to Colorado. “I did some modeling for Don Wallis,” she said. “He was one of the judges of Miss Recreation and he used me for a number of years in commercials and that sort of thing.” As always though, life changes, and she found herself questioning who people thought she really was. “Back in those days you didn’t know if people liked you for who you were or for the pageants you won. There was a lot of bullying and you didn’t really know if it was bullying or not,” Johnson clarified. “So I decided to quit modeling and quit the pageant world. I wanted to see if people liked me for me or [because] my picture was in the paper. And the pageant world had changed.” To Selma, pageants were supposed to be about lifting yourself up and learning life skills, but she found that as she grew older things seemed to change. “We had a lot of ‘show moms’ and it got pretty crazy backstage,” she said. “I didn’t like the bickering, bullying, the putting each other down. That wasn’t what it was about. It changed. Now it was more about you had to look a certain way, you had to dress a certain way.” This type of behavior turned Selma away from pageants for a little while. The “dog-eat-dog world” that pageants had turned into was not how they started out. But in the last four years, Selma has returned and taken the pageants by storm. In 2012, she entered the Miss Senior Parker County Pageant at the age of 65. After moving to Parker County from Las Vegas, someone told her that she was the only one silly enough to enter after showing her a picture of the previous winner, Carmen Ashby, who was in her 90s. “It made me mad that they said that to me,” Selma said with a laugh. “And I thought, well, good for that woman for entering.” A clipping had been placed on her desk indicating that the pageant was for Meals on Wheels, an organization close to Selma’s heart because of a relative that was on the program. “I was into charities, so I called and found out about it and decided to enter,” she said. “I had no idea I was going to go as far as I did. I had no idea I was going to win!” Escorted by her grandson, Selma attended the pageant and was crowned Miss Senior Parker County 2012. “My grandson punched me in the back and said, ‘Nana, get up! You won!’” she remembered. “I was about to get onto him because he had been so good up until then… .” Since then she has been asked to participate in a number of pageants. She currently carries the title of National Honorary Today’s American Woman Queen. These pageants give Selma a platform to speak out about something dear to her. “I want to encourage women, that no matter how old you are or how young you are, you can still be alive and participate in things like this,” she said. “And besides, it’s good for my self-esteem whether I win or lose.” Selma is also Cowboyville Glamma for the Cowboyville MAY 2016 PA R K E R C O U N T Y T O D AY “Back in those days you didn’t know if people liked you for who you were or for the pageants you won. There was a lot of bullying and you didn’t really know if it was bullying or not. So I decided to quit modeling and quit the pageant world. I wanted to see if people liked me for me or [because] my picture was in the paper. And the pageant world had changed.” 76