The limelight is not a place Rebecca Starling usually seeks.
But on Jan. 30, the Evans mother of two will take an Atlanta stage as Mrs. Augusta in the Mrs. Georgia America pageant.
"It is a little much," said Starling, 34. "I guess I probably shouldn't have chosen to do anything like this if I wasn't good at being the center of attention. But I figured that I might as well embrace the process and enjoy it all the way through."
Starling is a homemaker with two daughters: Holden, 8, and Graycen, 5.
"I'm excited," said Holden, who will be cheering her mother on from the audience and is ready to follow her footsteps into pageants. "I want to do one."
Mrs. Georgia America is a pageant for married women older than 18. There is no qualifying event for the state pageant.
Starling didn't join the pageant for the attention, or even for beauty's sake. The pageant is a physical goal, one of many she's set for herself during the past two years.
In January 2009, Starling said, she made a life change by dedicating herself to becoming physically fit. She started adding the P90X workout and running to her morning Bible study and prayer routine.
"Typically, people do it for the way they look," she said. "But that is a bonus for me. Just the way it makes me feel is amazing."
Starling is a busy wife and mother who home-schools her daughters and is active in her church, where she's a Sunday school teacher.
"I just wanted to be in shape. I felt tired all the time," she said. Now, "I feel like I am doing the best job that I can do in all the hats that I wear. I may not be perfect at it, but I know that I am giving it my all. And there's no better feeling."
Since starting her fitness mission, Starling said, she has met several goals she set for herself, including running two half-marathons. But she wanted a new goal.
Friends and family encouraged her to enter fitness competitions, but she was leery because none of the women she saw in them were feminine.
"I just didn't think that was for me," Starling said. "I'm not one of these who wants to get up and flex muscles."
When she read about the Mrs. Georgia America pageant in a magazine, she knew that was a better fit. She had done two local pageants as a teen and knew the prospect of being onstage in a swimsuit was incentive to stay in shape.
Though she's outgoing, Starling said, she's nervous about losing her words in the interview portion, which is 50 percent of her pageant score, and being in a swimsuit in front of so many friends and family.
She will attend a cocktail party Jan. 28, the preliminary round and the interview Jan. 29, and the pageant at The Theater in Roswell, Ga., on Jan. 30.
Win or lose, Starling said the pageant will be a good experience for her, husband Scott and her daughters.
"I'm just going to do it," Starling said. "If I do great, great. If I don't, (I'll) have the experience and the fact my kids can say, 'My mom did that.' ... Either way, it'll be a good experience for me and my family and it'll be a good lesson to teach my children."
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