Azalea Trail Maids

Azalea Trail Maids
Uploaded by LarimdaME.

They say every picture is worth a thousand words. A thousand of my words cannot describe how bizarre-looking these outfits are, but then most of you know my feelings toward the colour pink.

Anyway, the full story is linked from the description, once you click on the photo. (Don’t be lazy, it’s just one click.) There you will also find equally colourful comments.

Gail at Large
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Gail at Large

Canadian freelance photographer on 4th expat adventure. Previously: USA, Scotland, and Australia. Portugal became home in late 2013.

Blogging daily for nearly 14 years. With 5,600+ posts across 97 categories, there is something here for everyone, especially travel photography.

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Gail at Large
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41 thoughts on “Azalea Trail Maids

  1. There is strict requirements these girls have to adhere to in order to be an Azalea Trail Maid. First, they must have an outstanding GPA. My daughter’s GPA is 4.26. Second, they must not be just “bookworms” but must also be well -rounded and in many activities. Once they meet these requirements then they begin the interview process. They interview through their local high school, then move to the county level. They are considered the top fifty high school girls from Mobile County. Many have a desire to this because it is an honor to represent Mobile and it looks good on scholarship applications. My daughter’s dress cost over 4,000 dollars and each dress is unique. The girl will design her dress and it is made specifically for her. Because it is such an honor, the girls have no problem finding sponsors. Also, they travel throughout the year. For instance: 4th of July parade in Atlanta; Macy’s or Chicago parade for Thanksgiving; and Easter at Disney World in Florida. Don’t knock something unless you fully understand what it is about. Oh…and for those of you who believe this is somehow a “racist” thing, think again. We have many African-American girls, Asian girls, and white girls. They start as strangers and end up like sisters.

    • Oh yeah, I’m sure Harvard will be very impressed that your daughter was elected queen of Mobile Alabama (Insert favorite Forest Gump quote here), and that she spent the cost of her first years tuition on an incredibly ugly, frilly dress.

      • Actually, I know personally two Azalea Trail Maids who attended Harvard, so yes it actually does look really good to have it on your resume.

  2. I’m with Angie. There is nothing wrong, racist, or silly about it. It is only that our culture has gone so far out of whack that these upstanding ladies look out of dress, and seem strange to be proud of something so simple as to grow up in the South.

  3. my daughter is trying out right now to be an azalea trail maid she is very excited about the program and its worth no im not rich yet but to know a teenager wants to do something to represent a city is very rare i will do what needs to be done to make sure she succeeds
    everyone should be behind this program it encourages young girls to be well rounded and to do their very best and be the best
    yes my daughter is african american and that has not stopped her from doing anything its not people but who you are on the inside

  4. I tried out for this a few months ago. To any intelligent, kind, or all around decent girl reading this who is trying out, don’t (try out I mean). Every girl from my school that deserved to make it got a rejection letter. I understand why I didn’t make it, my GPA was not quite as high as it should have been, and I screwed up my second interview. I am not bitter for myself. However I am bitter for the deserving girls who lost to others who were better liars, or only made it because of nepotisim.

    The backstabbing is something else entirely. It is very likely that you will lose friends in the process. A good friend of mine resorted to stealing my answers. She of course made it. We are still friends, because by that point I was so apathetic towards the whole process, I really did not care whether I made it or not. I have heard numerous stories like this, and it seems to happen at every school, every year.

    If at this point you think I’m just upset I didn’t make it, it’s pointless to try to convince you otherwise. However I will ask one thing, make it on your own merit. I realize you can hardly help it if your sister or other relative was on the court, but do not lie. Do not lose your friends, even if you’re the one that is wronged. Please be able to wear your dress with dignity.

  5. I loved being an Azalea Trail Maid 64-65. It was the first year the Junior Miss pageant was televised in color. I represented my city in New Orleans in December ’64..Those were wonderful days and I have glorious memories of friends
    and times of happy events.

  6. i am horribly offended by what this site has posted about azalea trail maids. Trail is the absolute highest honor a high school girl could be awarded with in possibly all of Alabama. You must be intelligent, intellectual, habitual, and an extremely witty person to be accepted for this position. i am currently trying to become a trail maid and it would be amazing if i made it. i think that everyone should learn more about the program and what trail maids are all about before they make such absurd remarks and accusations. :]

  7. In case you haven’t all noticed, I’m knocking the dresses, not the (apparently rigorous) requirements for becoming an Azalea Trail Maid. These dresses are ugly!

  8. ok..these dresses are gorgeous and extremely expensive. if they were “ugly” why would girls pay up to $7000.00 to have them? oh yeah, they wouldn’t.

  9. Why would they pay $7,000? Because they can’t seem to make a dress on a smaller budget than a year’s tuition at a college?

    Seriously, Caitlin, these dresses are for a niche market — not the mass market — and that’s why they’re expensive. It sounds like a competition for bragging rights on who can spend the most money. They should take their smart girls and get them to create something beautiful using materials recycled from wedding dresses at a fraction of their original cost — now THAT would impress me.

  10. To those of you who do not understand pure southern charm and hospitality. These are beautiful southern dresses with pure beauty inside. I am so pround of each and every young woman who wears one of these dresses in Mobile. It not only shows her beauty and intellegence but integrity as well! As a metter of fact, my daughter hopes to soon be an Azalea Trail Maid and represent her heritage here in Mobile proudly. Those who make questionalble remards just do not understand the southern charm behind the pride of Mobile! You got girls – wear them proud!

  11. The size of market doesn’t matter, the dresses are expensive do to the large amounts of time, effort, and lets not forget fabric it takes to design and make an Azelea Trail Maid’s dress. Why would someone want to wear a recycled wedding gown? That is just ridiculous and makes NO SENCE AT ALL!!! We’re teenage girls not twenty-something brides! Gail, maybe you should do some research about the dresses before you start bashing and saying how ugly you think they are. Theses dresses are beautiful. These dresses are styled to be a modern take on the beautiful dresses of the Antebellum era. This is one of the biggest honors a high school girl could possibly get and can open so many doors for her. Nothing ticks me off like ignorance. You Gail are ignorant!!!!

  12. Ashleigh, you know what makes no “SENCE [sic]” at all? That you cannot accept the opinion of a person who DOESN’T LIKE PINK to say on her own website that she doesn’t like a frilly pink dress or excessive expenditure (particularly during an economic downturn, when people are losing their homes).

    If you knew me at all, you’d know I hardly ever wear dresses, hate pink and that I spent less than 5% of that sort of money on my own wedding dress (which I don’t expect everyone to like because it’s a matter of taste, it’s my own choice, and I would not take criticism of this dress personally). I haven’t deleted anyone’s comments on this post, because everyone is entitled to their opinion, even on my website and even if yours sounds rather too personal and not about a trivial matter such as dress appeal.

    I’m not in Alabama picketing the Azalea Trail Maids competition nor am I bashing anyone, I’m writing to say I think these outfits look bizarre and I’m saying it ON MY OWN WEBSITE. I posted this picture nearly three and a half years ago and I think they’re just as bizarre now as I did then. No research required or necessary to hold such an opinion — in fact, my opinion is stronger now that I know just how much money was spent on these dresses compared to what a woman would typically spend on a brand-new wedding dress (much less).

    Not everyone appreciates pageantry, believe it or not. But to call someone ignorant for having an opinion about aesthetics is in itself pretty tasteless and reflects poorly on the speaker.

  13. Wow – quite the responses this photo has elicited. Out of curiosity, I googled “Azalea Trail Maid”, your blog is the #2 result. Congrats.

  14. Peter — this must be a significant time for Azalea Trail Maids, because my website hits spike on this topic at this time every year!

    Here’s what the Azalea Trail Maids look like on parade. The appeal is purely subjective.

    I’m not alone in my opinion, either. Other people have written about the dress and received a similar series of remarks (but a lot more: 57 thus far!), mostly from Azalea Trail Maids. Commenter #1 (Nathan) likened the dress to an “exploded birthday cake”, and Commenter #57 (Claire) also questions the “layer upon layer upon layer of Easter egg colored fabric” and the angry but misguided reaction of the Trail Maid crowd for the author to “do some research”.

  15. I’m a member of the current trail court and to tell the truth if you like my dress then thank you and if you think its hideous then it’s your right to tell me. My feelings may be bruised and I might think you are a tad caustic (but I really don’t think you are Gail) but it’s your right to express your opinion.

    My boyfriend of over a year absolutely hated my dress for a long time (and had no qualms in telling me so) until he realized that I spent quite a lot of time designing the dress and that I know I look a bit silly. I’m walking around in a pastel purple,40lb,ruffle covered, 5 ft dress…of course its funny looking. Strangely enough he has grown to appreciate it for what it is; an historically inaccurate dress that I put time, money (no where near 7k on and the limit is actually 5k…) and feelings into. I’m used to remarks on my dress its really not a big deal. The embroidery reflects my family’s love of the ocean and while you may not like it I do. I’m secure enough about it to not be tempted to fight the first person who has a dissenting opinion. Gail, I can laugh with you and say its bizarre looking.

    I want to represent the non-hostile Azalea Trail Maids. I promise we aren’t all this volatile. I for one do not see the point in excessively utilizing the exclamation point. In my experience it shows immaturity and impulsive anger…id est stupidity.

    Girls…don’t do this. We are judged on our intelligence, experiences and above all poise…those of you who pick fights with a woman who isn’t personally insulting you aren’t representing Mobile well and aren’t showing your poise and intelligence. If you were on an appearance would you fight with someone who made a negative comment on your dress? I really hope not.
    Lets change peoples’ opinions of us by not resorting to ad hominem attacks.

    Gail thank you for your opinion. This is your site and Ive thoroughly enjoyed browsing it.

  16. First impression was “Looks like coloured toilet paper to me”.
    It would be harmless fun if it weren’t for the price. Cummon. Seven grand? Then I read on and found amazingly asinine pagent mentality responses were as offensive as the cost of these garments. It’s a good example of outmoded excess.

  17. Well, Ia m junior in Mobile County and Being an azalea trail maid is not just a pretty dress it is one of the biggest honors a female in mobile county can recieve. I try out in 37 days and belive me when I say it is a big competition, not a joke.

  18. I was an azalea trail maid and I must say that trail is the best experience i have ever had. And the dresses are in my opinion absolutely beautiful!! You are actually the only person i have came in contact with that didn’t agree with that. However, you are completely entitled to an opinion; i just wish you would give it another shot before you started downing it.

  19. What you may need to realize that while correct grammar and spelling is reflective, it is not definitive of a person’s intelligence. My husband is very intelligent, but has a learning deficit that makes it a challenge to put his thoughts on paper in proper English. A quick posting on a blog can not be construed to be a true representation of a person’s intelligence.

  20. All the new hits on your site about the Trail Maids is due to them being invited to the inauguration parade this week and one man in AL is angry because he thinks they cause people to think about slavery. In case you didn’t know why yet.

  21. How about PiNk is the best color known to man. If you can’t realize that you suck worse than you mediocre middle school writing.

    Hun, you should learn what it is to be a Southern Belle, but before you waste your time trying to be one, I’ll go ahead and say that you’ll never have what it takes. Good thing you’ve already found that out, given up, and then attacked those who are and will be better than you.

    Thanks Ya’ll!!!

  22. Gawd, I think its all great. I would have loved to be a trail maid but my parents sat me down and told me boys don’t do things like that.

  23. No doubt your from the North so you wouldnt understand the beauty in Azalea Trail Maids. I understand your ignorance on the subject and probably your prejudice on Southerners. It is an amazing honor to become one for any girl in Mobile and its something you just cant understand.

    Thanks Y’all :)

    • I’m not prejudiced towards Southerners, I am prejudiced against pastel pink. It’s been more than five years since I wrote this, and yet the same comments over and over, year after year: “You don’t understand the beauty of Azalea Trail Maids.”

      Face it, selling the Southern idea of beauty HERE by writing comments is like selling Avon in an Amish community. Until the Azalea Trail Maids stop wearing pink (likely never), I can’t see how I’d change my mind about the dresses (likely never). Really, if you want to Google around to see more Azalea Trail Maids, there’s nothing to see here! Move on!

    • Gail uses proper grammar, punctuation, and actual english words to make her point about her personal opinion… of course she’s from the North! Or the West, or anywhere else where they put stock in a persons mind, and not their clothes.

  24. Gail, I have been reading through the comments here on your site and although I feel that many of them are in poor taste, I do understand you have every right to your opinion. What I am unsure about is your motivation. You seem to delight in bashing and tearing down instead of finding something positive in your subject matter. I’m sure that if the vast majority of your commentors would/could spend time and effort to ” come South ” for a while, they would find that we are not still living in the 1950’s. We are as progressive as any other area in this great country. Please, don’t base your opinions on what others have told you. Experience it in person and then make you decision. What these young Ladies represent is not based the style or color of a dress. Maybe some of the people who have made some of the hate filled comments would like to share with us some of their accomplishments.

    • What these young Ladies represent is not based the style or color of a dress. Maybe some of the people who have made some of the hate filled comments would like to share with us some of their accomplishments.

      Herein lies part of the problem: the arguments about the dress are petty but suddenly people get defensive about the entire competition and words like “ignorant” get thrown around and ignite a flame war. Rest assured, in no way do I see those representative of the people of Mobile County. This is the internet, after all — I don’t even read comments under newspaper articles anymore because the web seems to attract negativity. If someone writes a negative comment, as long as it’s not profane, I don’t censor it, either. If you see my comments as overly negative, then I’m afraid I’ve given a false impression of how I view the South.

      I don’t associate the opinions expressed here with that of Southerners in general. I have been in the American South a number of times, most recently Atlanta in February of last year, and I have written favourably about my experiences (I don’t stay in hotels, I stay with locals and interact with local people as much as possible).

      Longtime readers of this website know how much I travel (12-14 trips/year, many of those to the USA), and why: because I don’t base my own opinions on what people tell me, I write about firsthand experiences.

      Case in point: Detroit

      So if the question is whether I am motivated to write comments based on a tendency to bash and tear down instead of finding something positive in the subject matter, I would say no, that is not my motivation at all. There are plenty of other websites dedicated to the bashing and tearing down of people’s appearances, but this isn’t one of them.

      My opinion about the dresses worn by the Azalea Trail Maids is driven by a lifelong dislike for pink clothing and my world view on excessive consumption in lean times (or any time, for that matter) and not in any way related to the standards of the competition itself. I am all for education, knowledge, and training young girls to excel — and if that’s what makes an Azalea Trail Maid, then why not lessen the financial burden to make the dress?

  25. A little background on the dresses. Each of the young ladies, as part of their interview process, list the color that they would like for their dress to be. The final decision comes from the committee. You will see several of the girls with the same color but, the top 5 each wear a dress color that is not shared and the Trail Queen wears Pink. Now, as to the cost of the dresses, they are all hand made by local seamstresses who have been making them for years. When you factor in the cost of the material and accessories, they do get to be expensive and , of course, there are certain criteria that the dresses must meet therefore, the high price and several inspections during the process to make sure they are meeting requirements. Hope this helps a little.

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