Monday, January 26, 2009

In Defense of Miss America

So the Miss America Pageant was this weekend. Now i have never been a huge pageant fan. I was always the type of girl who would never be caught dead in one, but my best friend (and his whole family) are into pageants so over the years i've started watching them. Even more so because my friend and his family actually run local pageants (they used to at least) and i used to go help them out. So i've seen alot of the behind the scenes workings of pageants and i've come to respect these girls. Miss America is more than just a beauty contest, as opposed to Miss USA which is based solely on how a woman looks. One of EW.Com (one of my favorite websites) writers lambasted the pageant in an article recently and heated discussion ensued.

So why do i defend these girls and an obviously outdated pageant. There are a couple reasons. Yes, the pageant is outdated its 80-something years old, which also makes it a tradition and a part of America nostalgia. Call me old-fashioned but is it wrong to like something that has a rooted history in the American past? Maybe i just wax nostalgic about it because it hearkens back to a society that was not as vapid and shallow. You know when the news didn't update everytime some bimbo socialite changes boyfriends.

Yes, the pageant judges beauty, and i'm not a fan of being judged on what i look like. But it doesn't just judge how pretty these girls are. Miss America is judged on poise, intelligence, public speaking, talent, community service and platform. Each of those girls is expected to have a platform on something they care about (AIDs research, tolerance, etc) and has to be able to speak about it to other people. These girls are expected to do countless hours of community service projects to qualify to compete. And they do it all while going to school, which is pretty time consuming. People railroad their talent but when did singing and dancing not become a talent. It's hard work. I watched some of those girls dance. Let me tell you, a dancer has to train for like 12 -15 years to be on Pointe. Feute turns and triple pirouettes are not easily accomplished, neither is being able to sing opera in key. Think of the time and training it took those girls to learn that stuff before criticizing their talents.

Furthermore, in a society where good role models for women are far and few between criticizing these girls for competing in a pageant is disgraceful. These woman are educated, well-rounded human beings. Think of how hard it must be to get up and speak knowing that millions of people are watching you. I mean i have trouble speaking in front of a class of fellow students. These women are doing so in front of the entire country. These girls aren't posing for playboy, going to clubs without underwear on, there not in rehab, they don't sell sex in music videos. I would much rather have my younger sisters idolizing Miss America than Britney Spears or Lindsey Lohan. These girls actually have relevant social issues they are involved with. They all graduate college. Some of them are going to Medical or Law school. Shouldn't we be raising these women up instead of tearing them down?

Yes, they get judged on how they look, but we all do everyday. These girls have managed to turn that into a way to win scholarship money for college. Sarah Palin got criticized heavily for being "too pretty" in the election. Why can't women be smart and pretty? What is wrong with that? Why do women either have to be smart and ugly or pretty and stupid. These women are smart and pretty and isn't that something we want all women to be? Just because they are beauty queens doesn't make them vapid or shallow, and we should respect them for putting themselves out in the public spotlight to be positive role models for women.

To all the Miss America Haters just think about whether you could get up there and do what they do. I sure couldn't. Can any of you list the countless hour of community service you've done in the last year? Can any of you give a speech on a relevant issue such as cancer research or promoting tolerance in America? Can any of you tap dance, sing, or twirl baton without looking like a complete idiot? Can you walk in heels with poise and grace without looking at your feet every 30 seconds? If you can't shut and respect these women for achieving something in their lives.
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