With reality TV portrayals such as “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” and “Toddlers in Tiaras,” pageantry can get a bad rap.

But for Danielle Whitlock, a West Orient Middle School eighth-grader, the experience has always been positive and even garnered her a childhood pen pal.

“I did a pageant when I was 7 and really enjoyed it,” Danielle said. “ When I received a letter saying I’d been invited to a new pageant, I thought, ‘Why not try it again?’”

Danielle, 13, has been selected to participate in the 2013 Miss Jr. Teen Portland Pageant on Sunday, Feb. 24, at Glencoe High School, and will compete for her share of thousands of dollars in prizes and specialty gifts. The winner also will receive a six-day, five-night trip to Orlando, Fla., to represent Portland at the national competition.

“I really like that this pageant wants to bring out the best natural qualities the girls have within themselves — that they try to build fellowship among the girls,” said Sule Whitlock, Danielle’s mother.

A volunteer with her youth group at Good Shepherd Community Church, Danielle plays basketball and volleyball and is participating in a triathlon. She is also a voracious reader with a perpetual stack of books on her nightstand.

With aspirations of becoming a journalist or author, she says she’s not too nervous about the judges’ questions. “I love being interviewed and getting to ask questions in return,” Danielle said.

While personality and interviewing skills are the top aspects each contestant will be judged on during the pageant, Danielle also will compete in casual and formal wear modeling routines. Her dream dress for the formal segment is a royal blue number with sparkle fabric down the back from the 1997 animated musical “Anastasia.”

But the pageant is much more than glitter and glam to the eighth-grader.

Danielle realizes the misconceptions people can hold about pageantry — that it’s shallow, competitive and akin to “Honey Boo Boo” moments made infamous on reality TV — but for her, it’s all about the relationships and opportunities.

“Some people think you try to beat everyone and be mean, but you meet people, have connection and have experiences that are filled with emotions,” Danielle says.

Two weeks from the competition, Danielle is looking for sponsors to help cover her $495 entry fee. She is primarily looking for businesses, which will have their company names published in the pageant’s program.

Potential sponsors may email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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