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6 Truths About Pageantry

October 6
by
Megan Swanson
in
Culture/Travel
with
.

Pageants haven’t always had the clearest reputation. One or two interesting answers on stage, one wardrobe mishap, or one trip and fall…magnified by half-factual media stories by individuals who are far separated from the actual industry. 


This Dish’s purpose? To surface the truth, hope, and light that is the true beauty of pageantry. I hope you all keep an open heart and open mind to learn what specifically the Miss America Organization (which I’ve had the closest and most personal experience with) has to offer.

  1.  Every woman who competes in the Miss America Org. (MAO) must have a Platform: A fully developed plan that connects with the passions of a contestant’s heart, which upon winning a local, state, or national title said contestant would travel around her area of jurisdiction, speaking on such platform.  Must have a developed media, marketing, and advertising plan, as well as a plan to share at many different settings/venues, including: schools, conferences, restaurants, Rotary Clubs, American Legion Clubs, after school clubs/organizations, religious groups/events, etc.
  2. Every woman who competes, competes in 5 areas of competition: Interview, On Stage Question, Evening Gown, Lifestyle & Fitness in Swimwear, and Talent.

To much of the pub%tags Culture/Travel lic’s surprise… guess which portion of competition is worth the LEAST? Swimsuit!

And the most? Talent and Interview.  The ladies you see every year on the Miss America stage are not bimbos, are not plastic surgery barbies, are not shallow, and are not catty and rude.  In fact, I proudly talk to my Miss America sisters every single day via different social media platforms, and our class didn’t have a SINGLE bad apple in our whole 53 member bunch! (Love y’all!) So be encouraged, the 13,000 women who compete every year are making a humongous impact on our nation every single year- boldly speaking out about subjects dear to their hearts, yearning to have the opportunity to make a tangible impact.

3. Now that you’ve heard the areas of competition, let me tell you what actually HAPPENS in a MAO pageant interview.

[Scene]

Contestant Sally Mae Sweetheart* (obviously a fake person, y’all) is contestant #1. She has been studying and prepping for this interview for 6 months now, and the next 10 (yes, 10) minutes will determine her fate.  What fate, you ask?! Well the fate of whether she wins the title of Miss Sweetie McSweetheart County 2015 that is! You see, a pageant interview prepares you for EVERY other kind of interview you could possibly step into, because for 10 straight minutes (other than a 30 second closing statement) a contestant has anywhere from 5-7 professionals from all around the country (and different areas of expertise) GRILLING them about ANYTHING and EVERYTHING. Tension in the Middle East? Fair Game. Syria and Russia? Fair Game. Then a question about who you would put on the $10 bill? Fair. 

Then a curve ball about what you like to do with your best friends on the weekends? Fair, and you better be ready. Also, 93% of communication is nonverbal- so the presence a contestant commands upon walking in the door is already a gigantic portion of her score.  As she leaves the room from her interview, Sally Mae either has made the judges see her as the next Miss Sweetie McSweetheart County 2015, or not, by her poise, confidence, sense of self, authenticity, intelligence, ability to go with the flow, and her overall presence.

Sound like something you would like to willingly put yourself through? (haha)

I say all of this to say… when is it ever a good idea to judge a book by it’s cover? I certainly have been humbled over the previous 2 years getting to know SO many incredibly talented, beautiful, gifted, intelligent, driven, and confident women that have inspired me to push toward every dream I can dream.  They’re my best friends, my role models, my sisters! And I mean that.

4.  On Stage Question-

All I’m going to say here is- The next time you have the opportunity to answer questions about hot button issues facing this nation ON NATIONAL TELEVISION, in 20 seconds, given about 1 second to think, right after you just competed in a swimsuit, evening gown, and talent without tripping, falling, voice cracking,etc… you tell me if you answered questions to the utmost of your ability, much less even remember what you said as it’s all happening…Talk about pressure! 🙂

5. “The swimsuit.”%tags Culture/Travel

First of all, it’s the least weight-bearing of a contestant’s score.

Second, would
you feel comfortable being on stage in a swimsuit and 6 inch heels?

The reality: These ladies are in the gym lifting weights 6 days per week, sweating their butts off (literally), building muscle, and learning the discipline of
eating nutritionally sound for often times 6 months-1 year at a time.

Let’s talk about commitment to your goals! Passion for what you’re doing! It’s not easy, but nothing ever worth it is!

Cut these girls some slack, Stop calling them anorexic, and I dare you to have a conversation with them! They’re incredible!

6. Finally, “what does Miss ___________ actually do?”

Good question. In my year as Miss Nebraska 2014, I traveled over 37,000 miles in my “Miss Ameri-car,” spoke to over 20,000 students and reached hundreds of thousands of people through speaking engagements, school tours, conferences, festivals, business meetings, religious services, etc throughout my year. Miss America travels 250,000+ miles, speaks every single day, and even has to do her own hair and makeup. She carries her own purse, she is a role model for people all over the world, and her authenticity and passion drives her success of her year.

So next time the Miss America pageant comes around, I encourage you to view with a different pair of eyes- look up the contestants on social media, figure out their platforms, click onto Youtube and hear them speak. You’ll be impressed by their passion, grace, and beauty effortlessly and genuinely eliciting their message. Don’t judge a book by it’s cover, and get to know someone before you judge them! 🙂


I hope this served as a positive alternative to the overarching mindset about pageantry, and that you were encouraged to know that so many women are out to make a difference! 🙂

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