Opening Number Tips

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Hello Ladies! I know one concern that some contestants have is about mastering the opening number. Especially ladies with no dance background. I am here to tell you that it is okay! Everyone has different talents, not everyone is a dancer, so know you are not alone. Here are a few tips on how to rock opening number ( and no you do not have to do any ballet like the picture above!)

  1. Listen to the Song Beforehand-

Teen and Miss Contestants: Hand Clap (by: Fitz and the Tantrums)

Once the song is stuck in your head you will know the lyrics and beat better. This makes it easier when you are given key words to remember moves by during rehearsals!

  1. Wear Your Heels-
You are going to be doing some pretty fast dance moves in those heels. You need to make sure that you are comfortable wearing them before nationals come around. I may sound crazy but I would wear my heels around the house all the time. Whether I was doing the dishes or just walking from the living room to my bedroom, every step counts.

  1. Confidence is Key-
Opening Number is the first time the judges will really see you on stage. So smile, even though you are nervous! If you have a big smile on your face no one will know if you mess up. It is not about who is the best dancer, it is about the girl that is most confident.

    4. Help Each Other-
Even though the staff does an excellent job teaching you the opening number. Sometimes getting things explained a different way can really help you. On that note, please help each other. Creating a great show for the judges and the audience is a team effort! If everyone focuses and really puts in effort in and out of rehearsals it truly shows on stage.

  5. Introduction-
When you go to announce yourself make sure to speak slowly and clearly. Since your adrenaline is pumping you will immediately begin to speak fast. Walk up the the microphone and take a breath before speaking, this will help you remember to slow down. Also, make sure you project your voice. Though the microphone will pick up your voice either way, it will make everything you say clearer and louder. Trust me, the crowd will be louder than you expect.

"Success is not measured by what you accomplish but by the opposition you have encountered and the courage with which you have maintained the struggle against overwhelming odds."
-Orison Swett Marden

Garin Harris
Miss Teen International 2016

No Beauty Shines Brighter Than a Good Heart

Friday, May 19, 2017
When it comes to pageants, some people immediately judge them or think that they aren't a positive thing. Most think they are judged purely on a girls “Beauty” or the amount they spend on a gown. However I am here to write about something I saw the other day that really resonated with me. “No beauty shines brighter than a good heart.”

For example, a titleholder is one who should light up a room when they walk in… and not because they have a sparkly crown on their head. You should see their personality, they should almost glow. Their smile should make you want to smile, and their positive energy should be contagious. They should make you want to be the best version of yourself, not make you feel like you need to be like them. They should make everyone feel like a “someone.” They should brighten others days, and if you think that comes from the makeup and crown, you couldn't be more wrong.

The most important thing for the judges to know about me going into pageant week, was my story. I made sure it was integrated in everything that I did and even into some things I wore. I knew I would be happy with myself if I would just be able to spread my platform to as many people as possible. Whether it was through social media or speaking onstage every post and every word made me one step closer to my goal.

So, for all of the state, regional, and country titleholders. You should not be more worried about your outfits and your hair and makeup than your platform work. When you walk into interview, then are not going to ask you who designed your gown, they are going to ask what you have done your community and what you plan to do. Go into pageant week knowing that no beauty shines brighter than a good heart because you will not regret it.

"Success is not measured by what you accomplish but by the opposition you have encountered and the courage with which you have maintained the struggle against overwhelming odds."
-Orison Swett Marden

Garin Harris
Miss Teen International 2016 

AHA- Healthy for Good Movement

Have you joined the American Heart Association's Healthy for Good Movement yet? If not you should! It is a four part program focused on living an overall healthy lifestyle. The four parts of the program are listed below!

Eat Smart: Try to make healthy eating choices. If you are looking for some great heart healthy  recipes check out the American Heart Association Cook Book.

Add Color: Make sure to include all types of veggies! The more colors the better, especially green.

Move More: Try to exercise everyday! Sometimes it makes it easier when you exercise with others or have an accountability partner. If you are looking for a good group of people that will help you along the way, join the Go Red Get Fit Facebook Group!

Be Well: Being healthy has to do with all aspects of your life. You need to remember that your mental health is equally as important as your heart health. Find the way you like to de-stress best whether it is meditation or dance, you will be able to relax and improve your mental health.

For More Information Please Visit:

"Success is not measured by what you accomplish but by the opposition you have encountered and the courage with which you have maintained the struggle against overwhelming odds."
-Orison Swett Marden

Garin Harris
Miss Teen International 2016 

How to Prepare: Political Questions

I have had so many contestants express their worry about being asked a political question onstage! Ladies, if you prepare correctly it isn't as scary as you think. So, here are a few tips on how to prepare to answer a political question:

Apps: I recommend downloading at least 2 news apps on your phone and getting notifications for both of them. This way not only do you have two different opinions, but you read the basic headlines for the stories. If you see a story that seems important then go to the article and read the whole thing, or watch the news video most apps provide.

Friends: Have your family and friends ask you questions about news stories they know about! This way you are getting a “non pageant style question.”  You will learn more and more about different events the more people you ask and talk with. This also allows you to get multiple different people's perspectives on the news as well.

Related to Your Platform: If there is something related to your platform that is going on in the news you should know about it! These are the types of stories that you should be following closely and know the most details about.

Teens: Ask your friends what topics they are interested in and know about. This is a good way to find out important events and details about things related to your age group!

Have an Opinion: The judges are not judging you on whether you agree with them or not, they are judging you on how you answer the question. Remember though, as an International Queen you have to represent everyone. Please do not be rude towards those who may disagree with you.

The Week Of: Be watching and studying the news the week of the pageant, especially for finals night. It is important to have the information fresh in your head before on-stage question. If you study, you will feel more confident!

I hope this helps!

"Success is not measured by what you accomplish but by the opposition you have encountered and the courage with which you have maintained the struggle against overwhelming odds."
-Orison Swett Marden

Garin Harris
Miss Teen International 2016 

A Pageant Binder?

Some of you have heard of a “pageant binder” or “pageant bible.” I have gotten a few questions recently on what in the world that is and what you should put in it. A pageant binder is where you keep an extra copy of all of your important information regarding you and the pageant. Here is an example of what all your pageant binder should/could include.

  1. Extra Headshot Copy
  2. Extra Platform Page
  3. Extra Resume
  4. Extra Contract
  5. Your Handbook (or copies of it)
  6. Copy of your Driver's License
  7. Copy of your Birth Certificate
  8. Copy of Rules and Regulations
  9. Copy of Ad Page
  10. List of Typical Interview Questions
  11. Important Information or Notes on Current Events
  12. Hotel Confirmation Information
  13. Flight Itinerary/ Driving Plan
  14. Photo and Description of Wardrobe
  15. Autograph Cards ( if you have them)
  16. List of Community Service
  17. Copy of Paula Preston Order Form
  18. Copy of Video Order Form
  19. Your Social Media Information
  20. National Pageant and Current Queens Social Media Information
  21. Copy of Coronation Ball Ticket Information
  22. Copy of Fitness Order Form
  23. Copy of Opening Number Order Form
  24. Copy of Dunn and Dunn Hair and Makeup Information
  25. Any Other Pageant Sponsor Information
  26. Good Luck Notes from Family and Friends
  27. Your Contact Information/ Emergency Contact Information (in case it is lost)
  28. Any Other Tips or Information You May Need

I know it seems like a lot but trust me, having all of this information in one spot will help you greatly, especially during pageant week. Though it is fun, pageant week is also long and stressful! If you have extra copies and everything ready it will save you time and energy. Plus having notes of encouragement from family and friends really helps.

If you take the time to prepare before the pageant the better outcome and better experience you will have! So come prepared ladies! If you have any other question on what should be in your pageant binder, feel free to reach out to me.

"Success is not measured by what you accomplish but by the opposition you have encountered and the courage with which you have maintained the struggle against overwhelming odds."
-Orison Swett Marden

Garin Harris
Miss Teen International 2016 

Now What Happens If I Look Sick

Sunday, April 23, 2017

In contrary to my last post, what do you do when you hear this…

“Why is she so small?”
“Why does she wear those crazy outfits?”
“What is that thing?”

Visible chronic illness is just as difficult to deal with as Invisible Illness. I have had countless young friends that have been made fun of and been outcasts just because of their feeding tube or small size. My main statement behind this blog goes back to one thing that I am sure you were told countless times when you were young… “don't judge a book by its cover.” Many of us have heard this a million times, but honestly how many of us actually do it.

Take a step back… someone may be a small size because of their medication. Those crazy outfits the pain community wears, they are to bring awareness about different diseases and struggles we go through. Lastly that “thing” you are pointing at and staring at saves people's lives and/or helps their quality of life. Most of the time it is a big step for people to go shopping or go out to dinner. Please do not judge them. I have seen it too many times myself.

Most people are very open about their illnesses. They have no problem answering questions and letting you know a little more about their daily life. I promise they would rather give answers than deal with stares and whispers.

I encourage all of you to like the U.S. Pain Foundation Facebook Page as well as mine to stay updated on ways you can help and understand the chronic pain community.

“Success is not measured by what you accomplish but by the opposition you have encountered and the courage with which you have maintained the struggle against overwhelming odds”
- Orison Swett Marden

Garin Harris
Miss Teen International 2016 

My Trip to Charleston

Hello everyone, Priscilla, Amanda and I were able to visit Charleston, West Virginia these past couple of days. I am so excited for all of the ladies competing and their families to see this amazing town. We felt so welcomed from the moment we landed.

We kept busy the whole trip so I wanted to give you an inside look on all of the trips events. The morning started off early with 3 radio interviews. These were to promote tourism day at the capitol building as well as the  pageant coming to Charleston this summer! Next we headed to the Capitol to meet representatives and senators from all over West Virginia! March 20th, 2017 was declared International Pageants Day in West Virginia. How exciting is that?!

After accepting the proclamation we were able to participate in a few TV interviews with local news stations. Later we were able to begin the photo shoots that will be used for promotional purposes for the pageant and for Charleston.  We started by shooting pictures outside of the beautiful Capitol building! Next we had a small break to get ready for the West Virginia Hospitality Association Legislative Reception at the State Culture Museum. Here we were able to meet and speak to more government officials and leaders from different counties in West Virginia. They did an amazing job with this reception there was delicious food from all over the state. Also the Culture Center is one of the most amazing buildings. It is truly beautiful so Mrs. Contestants get ready for a treat!

The next day brought some more amazing photo shoots. We started with an early breakfast with the amazing Mary and Cristen. Then we headed over to Tidewater Grille in the Charleston Mall for a mini photoshoot there.  Next was a stop at Ivors Boutique! For the ladies who are competing please make some time to come to this shop! It is amazing and just had so many great clothing pieces in it. They sponsored an outfit for each of us to wear for the next part of the photoshoot, so a big thank you goes to Ivor’s. My outfit was a pair of fabulous black pants, a white crop top, and gold sequin shall. A special thank you to Cristen for letting me rock her sunglasses for a few of the pictures! We headed over to Capitol Market for the next photo shoot location. If you ladies are looking for something sweet while in Charleston Holls Chocolates is the place to go!

Miss and Teen Contestants! Have you watched the live stream video on Facebook that shows you the Clay Center for the Arts and Sciences yet? If not you need to! It is a beautiful theatre, I am so excited to see ya’ll rocking the stage in August! We took more photos at the Clay Center then went on to the airport. This was such an exciting shoot. We were able to take photos next to a private jet, which is right up my alley. Next was dinner then the Ronald McDonald House where we were able to meet a special little princess. She was so sweet, and even crowned me.

Contestants, get ready for the time of your life. I cannot believe the pageant is so close. Charleston here we come!

"Success is not measured by what you accomplish but by the opposition you have encountered and the courage with which you have maintained the struggle against overwhelming odds."
-Orison Swett Marden

Garin Harris
Miss Teen International 2016 

How to Write a Testimony

Recently I have fallen in love with being involved in the government. Whether in the local, state, or national level you all can have an impact! I encourage all of you to become involved and speak on what you are passionate about. After I testified on behalf of American Heart Association, American Lung Association, and the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network on the SB 1106/ Tobacco 21 I have been asked about my experience as a whole and how someone should go about writing a testimony.

The experience went great, however be prepared to walk into a very serious and professional atmosphere. Make sure to dress nicely, I choose a black business suit and red top. I wanted to show that even though I was just 18, I showed a valuable perspective. If you are talking about highly controversial issue be prepared to only have a short amount of time to speak due to both sides having a large amount of speakers. You will be asked to keep your testimony anywhere from 3-5 minutes in these cases.

A very important part of testifying in my opinion is sharing your personal connection or experience. I also believe you should speak from the heart. This means I recommend creating an outline highlighting the key parts of your testimony rather than writing a full. Here is a sample outline of my testimony I did in front of the Senate:

SB 1106- Tobacco 21 Testimony Information
Senate State Affairs - March 3rd, 2017

Garin Harris- Miss Teen International 2016
Giving the Youth Perspective
  • Inconsistency of age for alcohol vs tobacco - alcohol age moved up to prevent alcohol related accidents
  • Personal Experience of Exposure During High School
  • E-cigarette use in teens (3x more likely to progress to tobacco)

Plan of Action-

Introduce Self - Name, Age, Where I Live , Title

Involvement in Advocating for Health Issues Especially Youth-
  • Run my own program for chronic pain patients called Dancing Through the Pain

  • I am an National Ambassador and spokesperson for U.S. Pain Foundation as well as the American Heart Association

Importance of Public Policy in Youth Health-
  • Ultimately it is up to you to make the healthy choice the easy choice.

  • AHA is an organization based completely on science. It has been proven that if you are not addicted to tobacco products before the age of 21 the most likely you will not be.

  • There is an inconsistency between the alcohol age limit vs the tobacco age limit alcohol being 21 and tobacco of course 18

  • The alcohol age was pushed up to minimize the cause of alcohol related car accidents and deaths. Over the years this has succeeded

  • Tobacco is a cause of countless deaths, though typically the effects of tobacco are seen later in life we are seeing the age group affected grow

  • Now young adults as early as age 19/20 are experiencing heart problems some even as severe as a heart attack

  • Heart Disease is the #1 killer of women  

School Experience-
  • I was young for my grade during my high-school years however by the time
          Jr/Sr year rolled around most of my classmates were 18 years old

  • I could not begin to tell you the amount of times I was offered a variety of tobacco products

  • I can also not begin to tell you how many teens used e-cigarettes and would consistently tell me that they were better for them because they were not actual cigarettes

  • Teens who use e-cigarettes are 3x more likely to progress into tobacco usage/addiction

  • AHA, ACS CAN, and ALA have all been focusing on the issue of tobacco in your youth

  • Officers are finding kids as young as 10 with tobacco/ vape related products on them

  • Also 18-19 year old special education students are also being targeted and taken advantage of by younger students persuading them to buy tobacco products for them

  • As a future Social Worker that will cause major issues for all parties involved in that situation

  • With 25% of high schoolers using vape products this calls for major concerns of them turning to tobacco in the future

I hope this helps all of you to use your voice to speak on what you believe in.

“Success is not measured by what you accomplish but by the opposition you have encountered and the courage with which you have maintained the struggle against overwhelming odds”
- Orison Swett Marden

Garin Harris
Miss Teen International 2016 

I May Not Always Look Sick

“You are just being lazy”

“You could try harder”

“You must just be tired”

...“You don’t look sick”

These phrases are what chronic pain patients hear on a daily basis. We know that any illness is hard to deal with, but how about one that people cannot see. In some cases you lose weight, or suffer hair loss but with most chronic pain patients their outer image stays exactly the same.

Sometimes symptoms come and go. Allowing for good normal days and terrible bad ones. So, since most days they see are good they think “hmmm she was just tired today” or “He just wanted to miss school.”

Having an illness is tough, having a chronic illness that you will have to cope with for the rest of your life is even tougher.

It all goes back to, as an outsider looking in everything may look normal but everyone you meet is going through something. Please be kind, and try to understand. Ask questions if you have them, the chronic pain community doesn't mind! We appreciate you open-minded and wanting to learn about things us or our family members go through. Remember, everyone will experience pain at some point in their lives. It’s all about knowing how to deal with it when it comes so learn to... Dance Through the Pain!

"Success is not measured by what you accomplish but by the opposition you have encountered and the courage with which you have maintained the struggle against overwhelming odds."
-Orison Swett Marden

Garin Harris
Miss Teen International 2016 

The Pageant Planet Awards

Recently Pageant Planet released a few articles with awards for those in the pageant community! I have always said that the International Pageant system has the best sponsors, and this year they have done an amazing job being recognized for all of their accomplishments. Not only were our sponsors recognized but so were a few contestants. Here is a list so far of who has been recognized by pageant planet!
Clay Spann: Clay was not listed for 1 but 2 awards so far from Pageant Planet. He was in the Top 10 Make-Up Artist list and the Top 10 Headshot photographer list. Both of them were well deserved! I have had the privilege of working with Clay and he is not only amazing but a friend as well!

Here is what Pageant Planet says:

“Clay Spann is really a powerhouse of talent. Not only can he do your makeup for a photoshoot or pageant, but he also sells his own line of cosmetic products and makeup – and did I mention he can also take your headshot photos? Clay Spann’s headquarters is a one-stop-shop for your glamorous look for your upcoming pageant. Clay is located in Dothan, Alabama.”

“Talk about a one-stop shop! Clay Spann is not only an extremely talented photographer but also an impeccable makeup artist. Embedded in each of his sessions is a makeup session with him to ensure you look and feel your best during the time spent with him. Clay has worked with the national title holders for the International Systems tem and numerous state and local titleholders for both Miss America Organization and Miss USA pageants. Clay is located in Dothan, Alabama and has a very glamorous approach to both makeup and photography. A bonus about working with Clay? If you love the products he uses on you during your makeup session, you can buy the products from him as he also has his own cosmetics line.”
Joey Rutherford: Joey is the owner of Competitive Image and also a close friend. The Competitive Image is an excellent pageant store. I purchased my evening gown and other pieces I wore at nationals from them! I will be attending the Trunk Show in April and highly recommend going. I attended last year and it helped me greatly! Congratulations to my friend Joey, I cannot wait to see you soon.

Here is what Pageant Planet Says:

“Located in Dothan, Alabama is The Competitive Image. “Magnificent Apparel and Finery” is this boutique’s slogan. It has provided attire for hundreds of titleholders dating back to 2001. It’s no wonder The Competitive Image is among the top in the nation, as they also hold events during the year. In April, Sherri Hill will be at their Trunk Show.”
Thomas Dunn: Amanda, Priscilla, and I all just had a trip to Roanoke to see Thomas and Drew Dunn, Owners of the salon. They provided us all with fabulous hair extensions. They are so amazing, ladies please remember to book your appointments for nationals. They are the only hair and makeup sponsors allowed backstage to help with hair and makeup!

Here is what Pageant Planet Says:

“This full-service salon located in Roanoke, Virginia offers hair, makeup and even photography services. Although I have never been there myself, I was a fan as soon as I read that the salon uses Oribe products. I am a full-on fan of Oribe products for hair.”

Priscilla Pruitt: Congratulations to my sister titleholder Priscilla for making the Top 10 Mrs. Evening Gown list! Clearly it was well deserved, you look stunning in your evening gown!
Here is what Pageant Planet Says:  
“This mermaid gown is beautiful, especially with the super long train and jeweled accents along the neckline and shoulders. The pure white color is stunning. It is so simple with some beautiful accents to make it stand out, and Priscilla looks beautiful in this gown! The dark hair looks amazing with the white gown. The crown and sash definitely look great with it, too.

Me: I cannot believe I was awarded with this honor! I was so excited when I heard the news that I was number 2 on Pageant Planet's Top 10 Teen Gown List . A big thank you goes to Joey from Competitive Image. Thank you for helping me pick my dream gown. You were such a crucial part of my pageant journey and I cannot thank you enough!  
Here is what Pageant Planet says:  
“This is an example of an insanely beautiful mermaid style gown. Garin looks jaw-droppingly stunning in this white mermaid style evening gown. The style of this design looks amazing along with its fabric and designs. She definitely chose her perfect gown for Miss Teen International 2016!”

I also want to congratulate a few of our contestants for also being recognized. Jessica Johnson made the Top 10 Teen Evening Gown list with me and Nicole Zwiercan and Jessica Jackson made the Top 10 Mrs. Evening Gown list!

"Success is not measured by what you accomplish but by the opposition you have encountered and the courage with which you have maintained the struggle against overwhelming odds." -Orison Swett Marden

Garin Harris
Miss Teen International 2016