Senior Charnae Payne Breaking Boundaries at Pageants

Senior Charnae Payne (left) poses at a local beauty pageant.

Ahmirah Posey, Staff Writer

Charnae Payne’s life is far from that of your average high school student; instead of spending her weekends going to parties or playing sports, Payne spends hours upon hours participating in teen beauty pageants.

A few weeks ago, Charnae was able to travel to Minnesota to participate in the Miss Teen of America pageant after earning her Miss Teen of New Jersey title. Although not winning the November 16-21 pageant, Charnae was able to appreciate that “it was a learning experience, [she] didn’t come to win, more to have fun and learn.”

When it comes to being in the world of pageants Charnae gets to experience what it’s like to be a P.O.C (person of color) in pageants, first-hand and how people react to people like herself. There is a certain expectation as to what girls in pageants look like, and Charnae Payne gets to break that boundary at every pageant she goes to.

Payne explained that, “I think that’s one thing I get judged on most. When they think of pageant girls they think of the Caucasian girl with the long pretty blonde hair and blue eyes and it’s not way. They were other African-American girls that did compete with me. We have the same qualities that they do just a different color skin.”

Charnae is not just a beautiful young lady, but she is someone who puts in her time in the classroom and participating in CHS activities.  After transferring to Cinnaminson prior to her junior year, Charnae has had an exemplary record of achievement here at CHS, having a schedule full of accelerate and advanced-placement classes.  When she is not preparing for pageants, she is also participating in Interact, Student Council and the multicultural club.

However, Charnae has found that the stigma that goes along with participating in beauty pageants is that all you need is beauty, but this could not be farther from the truth.

“I think a lot of people do but they don’t know the work that goes behind it. It’s not just the beauty factor it’s the overall of scholastic records, community service, and how much you are willing to give back,” Payne said.

Finally, Charnae shares that “people look at me and they see the whole Miss Teen New Jersey thing and think pageants, beauty and not more so the brains factor. They see us as superficial and selfish and egotistical and I’m not that way.