Six Reasons Not to Let Contests Define Us

  Or, Six More Things I’ve Learned From Pin Ups

Hypocrite alert here. I’m just going to start out with that disclaimer.

dmsbtsFrom the pin up contest I judged over the summer

I’ve entered approximately 30 film festivals for Pin Up! The Movie. In the course of making the doc, I filmed three pin up contests. I’ve judged a pin up contest. A contest inspired me to start working on the film. And I’m doing online contests for the film’s Instagram.

So I’m not going to say that contests don’t mean anything.


But I’ve been watching from the sidelines as the semi-finalists were announced this week for the Miss Viva Las Vegas pin up contest (a contest I filmed in 2014). I’ve seen the reactions – the over-the-moon joy for the gals who were the judges’ choice to move on (six women) to the “get out the vote” attitude for the 50 or so who are trying to be part of the remaining six selected by public vote. And then there are those who didn’t make it to either list, some of whom are terribly worthy. Disappointed? You could say that.

So what have I learned… and what have my pin up friends taught me?

1. “Contests don’t define who I am as a pin up, or who I am as a person.” Via the awesomesocks Dapper Dan Doll. Amen, sister.

Dapper Dan Doll 8

Dapper Dan Doll by Donigan Artworks

2. You have no way of knowing what “they” actually want. I got a note today from a film festival who wanted to know if I had a shorter version of the film, because their programming is so tight that the current hour-and-a-half running time would preclude its acceptance. That’s good to know (yes, I’m still in the running). But that sort of outreach is rare. Which means….

3. Sometimes, decisions are made for really lousy reasons. As an outsider in what is an often-behind-closed-doors process, you have no idea why that bright, shining star got the golden ticket and you’re stuck with rocks. Which means….


4. Quality can fall by the wayside… through no fault of your own. Maybe it’s just the wrong fit for you. Or the organizer’s best friend’s sister’s cousin was your competition. Or you’re wearing the white skirt rather than the black one. You don’t know.


5. Sometimes decisions are real head-scratchers. My film was rejected by a woman’s film festival because they only accept films on women’s issues made by female directors. I guess the feminist history of the pin up directed by a woman named Kathleen doesn’t count.  anigif_enhanced-8142-1391412891-14

6. Know you’ve done the best you can… and accept anything else as a bonus. Pollyanna-ish? Maybe. But it’s also a way to keep your sanity, and your faith in yourself. As my friend Kat Stroud wrote,

While our validation shouldn’t stem from the validation of others, sometimes, having someone shut down any negative self-talk in your head is the push you need to acknowledge just how absurd the negative self-talk is to begin with.

Kat Stroud on set with Mitzi & Co.

Kat Stroud on set with Mitzi & Co.

Look, you’ll see me bragging when we get into our next fest, lobbying for my pals to get into or win pin up contests, and holding contests to try to find fun new faces.


But in the long run? I’m trying to remember WWDS (What Would Dapper Say).

Let’s make that a trending hashtag, whaddya say? #WWDS

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