“Have you thought about competing for Miss America?” surfaced more than a handful of times during and after my reigns as an Aquatennial Princess and Princess Kay of the Milky Way. Initially, I laughed at these inquiries, knowing full well I was no “beauty queen” and had little experience in the “real” pageant world. Everything I have done up to this point has been judged solely on paperwork, personality, professional poise, communication skills and interviews, all areas in which I now take great pride. Thanks to my studies and experiences, namely in scholarship/ambassador programs, my editing is razor sharp, professionalism is on point, interviews and self presentation—albeit rusty—kill, and interactions with the public easy as ABC; not trying to toot my own horn (trust me, there’s still plenty of room for improvement), rather applaud the people and programs responsible for these realizations.
I want to keep this as real as possible:
“Have I thought about competing for Miss America?” Yes. LOTS. I’m a dedicated fan. I follow state titleholders throughout their reigns and never miss a Miss America competition (Sept. 10, 2017 on ABC).
“Do I want to compete for Miss America?” Yes. How could I not want to challenge and better EVERY aspect of my life, serve others as a full-time job and *bonus* win a $50,000 scholarship??? DUH! That’s not even mentioning being a national role model and CMNH ambassador, supporting a cause of my choosing as my personal platform and representing America across the States and world. I mean, really, how could I not want to?
The impending question for me has always been, “will I compete for Miss America?” and it’s complicated. Allow me to explain:
Logistically, finding the time to compete has proven difficult mostly due to my wanderlust. If I’m constantly out-of-state or abroad, it leaves me no opportunity to commit myself to a local or state yearlong reign. The way I see it, if I’m going to do it, I’m in it 110 percent, which means devoting (at least) a full year to staying in the U.S.
Beyond timing, I hesitate to compete for a couple reasons that I’ve tried and failed to justify, rethink or approach differently.
First and foremost, I don’t want to perpetuate stereotypes and unrealistic expectations, especially when it comes to appearances. I exercise at least 5 times a week, eat my veggies and whole foods (with the occasional treat), and I certainly don’t look like a preliminary swimsuit winner. I know it’s possible to challenge the stereotype, but how can one ignore the ongoing reputation that Miss Florida (the state I’d be competing in) holds of winning the swimsuit prelims with consistently trim, slim figures. On a side note, what’s there against exercise clothes rather than swimsuits? I just don’t want to be the girl that “hasn’t eaten dessert in months” or the one that exercises 3 hours a day to maintain her physique. I can’t seem to get on board with what it would cost me—mentally and physically—to look like a previous swimsuit winner.
Next, there seems to be an utter discordance between what you must do to win the Miss America crown and what you actually do in your year as Miss America. Anyone ever see Miss America in a swimsuit during an appearance? How about twirling a baton or advising the world on how to solve its problems in 30 seconds? To be fair, I see the high value in being comfortable in front of an audience, quick on your feet to answer tough questions and up-to-date on current events, but publicly sharing your opinions on culturally sensitive topics like politics in front of millions of viewers?
Finally, the scorecard breakdown:
30% – Talent
25% – Interview
20% – Onstage Question
15% – Evening Wear
10% – Lifestyle and Fitness
I know I’m not the only one that has some questions here, especially about the weight talent holds over an interview.
When all is said and done, what Miss America does outside of competition is everything I want to do, encompass and represent. I simply question if the Miss America Organization has embraced its transition from a beauty pageant (in its early years) to a scholarship program to the fullest. All scrutiny aside, I have an immense respect and admiration for all young women who compete in MAO. The dedication, determination and self-discipline this organization demands is not to be undermined or underestimated. However, to be true to myself and pinpoint my purpose should I compete, these are concerns that I must remedy to some degree in order to proceed.
With that, I openly welcome cordial discussion, comments and input surrounding the topic.
Un beso y abrazo fuerte (xoxo),