For some people, having the spotlight on them while they perform, answer questions and show off their active bodies in fitness gear may be their worst nightmare – but Sarah Eash’s laid-back personality allows her to take it all in stride. When Eash is not socializing with her friends and family, or performing dance routines in the studio, she can be found on the stage, with the bright lights sparkling on her sequined dress, in a Miss Ohio Outstanding Teen Scholarship Program show.
Eash is 17 years old and has been competing in local Miss America Outstanding Teen pageants since the age of 9. At the age of 13, Eash won her first title, Miss Fallen Timbers Outstanding Teen, and has since been crowned Miss Cuyahoga County Outstanding Teen this past year at age 16.
Eash, of Lakewood, was then crowned Miss Ohio Outstanding Teen 2012 this past June in Mansfield. In August, Eash will compete in the Miss America Outstanding Teen pageant in Orlando, Fla., for a national title.
“I just like going to pageants and meeting the girls and spending time with them,” Eash said.
The Miss Ohio Outstanding Teen show was comprised of various segments, including “Lifestyle and Fitness,” in which each contestant wore exercise clothing. This illustrated that each contestant valued a healthy lifestyle and they each performed a routine of jumping jacks, kicks and pushups. Following the fitness segment was the “Artistic Expression” (talent) portion, and Eash performed a two-minute dance lyrical routine that demonstrated her passion for dance.
The show concluded with “Presence and Poise” (evening gown) and the on-stage question, which focused on current events. Eash prepared with her mother by reading the newspaper and watching the television newscasts.
“One can hire a pageant coach, but in the four years I’ve competed, I’ve done it all on my own with my mom’s help,” Eash said. “My parents are really supportive and my mom travels with me everywhere because we are required to have a chaperone. My dad also always comes to my shows.”
The Miss America Outstanding Teen organization requires each contestant to choose an issue about which they feel passionate and that has relevance to the country, known as the platform. Eash has made a personal commitment to community service and has completed approximately 8,000 hours to date. For her platform, Eash created the organization “Get Up, Get Involved, Give Back to Your Community, and Make a Positive Change in Your Life,” which encourages people to volunteer for various organizations.
Unless contestants are sponsored, they are responsible for purchasing the necessary clothing for shows. Eash is sponsored by her parents, Deborah and Guy Eash, and she and her mother shop together for many of her dresses from Dillard’s. One of Eash’s favorites was by designer Jessica Simpson, which she wore in her most recent show. With Eash’s background in dance, she learned how to apply her own makeup and do her own hair and be ready for the stage in 30 minutes.
“For me, pageants boosted my confidence and self-esteem,” Eash said. “Being a part of the pageants shows how I’ve grown over the past four years. I’m not really the stereotypical peppy pageant girl. I’m more down to earth, and I compete to get to meet new girls. It’s a lot of fun.”