Admittedly, as I walked into SLC's Capital Theatre for the Miss Utah rehearsals on Wednesday, I was already having flashbacks back to my middle and high school years. All those girls who got breasts years before I did. A lipstick disaster from my freshman year. The time I fell down an entire flight of stairs thanks to my delusions of being able to walk in heels. Now, here I was about to go into a room filled with beauty queens, assuming their perfect skin, teeth and smiles would throw me back to my less confident days. After all, these contestants were the embodiments of the A-clique in every teen angst movie ever made.

But, a few hours later, I walked out of the theater respecting these intelligent, fit and motivated ladies. No, I am not saying these things because I got hopped up on hairspray fumes backstage. To my unexpected delight, I sat face to face with phenomenal women all afternoon. Among their ranks will be our future leaders, exemplary community representatives and powerful professionals—and they're competing in the annual Miss Utah Scholarship Pageant this weekend.

“They aren’t looking to produce cover girls and pin ups,” says Pageant Field Director Lynette Davis. “The contestants coming out of this experience are well-suited for service, learning, and societal contribution. They seek to be known for intelligence, confidence, assertiveness and diplomacy.”

And, if you want to check it out, be ready to be impressed as you witness the culmination of hard work, goal-setting and, of course, perfect lighting. The pageant kicked off Wednesday night and runs through Saturday at Capital Theatre, 50 W. 200 South, Salt Lake City. The preliminary competition runs through Friday and ends with the final competition and crowning on Saturday. The event begins at 7 p.m. each night, and tickets are available at 801-355-ARTS. For more info visit missutahpageant.org.

So with that, may the force be with you! May the odds be ever in your favor? How do you sign off in a beauty pageant setting? How about: May your heels be higher, your hair hold curl longer and your interview answers make the most sense.

Want to meet some of the girls? Read on for Salt Lake magazine's interview with a few of the participants to get the skinny on pageantry.