Miss America recently found a way to get everyone talking about them.
If you missed it, the director announced in an interview that they will be removing the swimsuit portion altogether from their pageant, among other changes, and now it will be more of a “competition” rather than a pageant. As you may imagine, the Internet has Opinions about this change and so do I, especially when I consider how it will affect future generations such as my daughters.
But why should you care what I think? Because I’ve got the credentials to go with it. That’s right, I squeezed my teenage body into a swimsuit and strutted it across a stage in five inch heels while being nationally televised.
I am a former pageant queen.
I competed in the Miss USA branch. Just for reference, Miss America and Miss USA are two completely separate systems of pageants but, they BOTH included competition in the areas of Interview, Evening Gown, and Swimsuit….until now.
I think removing the swimsuit component from the pageant was the wrong decision.
In my years of competing and volunteering in pageantry, I have NEVER felt objectified by the swimsuit area of competition. Furthermore, I have never heard any of my fellow competitors express that they felt this way. What I have seen and heard immediately following stage exits during the live show are EMPOWERED women with wide eyes and big grins who can’t believe what they just dared to do. How powerful to push your body to it’s limits, to achieve your health and fitness goals and then step into a spotlight!
During this portion of the competition, there is upbeat music playing and facts about the woman on stage being read. These notes include VERY impressive stats of their achievements in education, volunteer work, sports, community outreach, etc. It’s a roll call of their excellence in a variety of areas.
Pageantry was my thing, this was my sport. I didn’t run fast, I am not very coordinated, I can’t hit a softball, I can barely tread water….you get the point.
This I could do, and I could also make a difference, and earn scholarship money. A LARGE part of the responsibility as a titleholder is volunteering, and promoting outstanding national organizations as part of a platform.
The swimsuit competition is to prove that the contestant exudes confidence and a healthy, physically fit frame, but hear me well and please don’t read that as skinny. It was also NOT because judges want to see young women in their underwear. The strength physically and mentally that I have gained from competing on a stage in front of thousands of people with nowhere to hide is unmatched. Here I am. This is me. I worked hard for this.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
When it comes right down to it, it’s a beauty pageant. The fact that you have to compete in a swimsuit is not a surprise, but it’s legitimately what you sign up for. If I were still competing, I would not be relieved to hear it was eliminated. Rather, it would be the world telling me all the hard work I did was for nothing and the decision of how I want to be viewed has been taken from me.
Personally, I found this portion of the competition to be EMPOWERING. Embracing your body, healthy and beautiful, your hard work seen, BY CHOICE.
My decision to start competing in pageants was solely my own. If either of my daughters expressed interest I would allow them to also compete because I know what I gained from MY experience. Swimsuit and all.
In all sports/competitions, there is a physical or mental aspect that pushes us to be our best version of ourselves right? Likewise, THIS competition – the pageant world – isn’t for everyone and you have to want it and to work for it. This is what I signed up for and I had nothing but a positive experience that made me a stronger more confident woman.