Pageants reign supreme despite Miss USA flop

Photo credit: Nicole Jackson


I have to admit, I was kind of sad when Univision decided not to air the Miss USA pageant this summer.

Sure they only pulled the pageant because Donald Trump, the pageant’s part-owner, said horrible and malicious things about Mexican immigrants during one of his political speeches, but I was still sad as I’ve been watching the pageant for years.

But what really took me from sad to fuming was when I read an article by the Huffington Post about the pageant’s ratings drop.

No, I wasn’t upset because less people were watching the show.

I mean, come on, it wasn’t aired for goodness sake. What were they expecting?

What really pissed me off was the last paragraph of the article which compared pageants to an animal auction and that we’d be better off without them. Are you kidding me?

I take a personal offense to this because I’m an ex-pageant girl.

I know I’m not what you might picture as the cliched “pageant girl.” I’m not blonde, tanned and skinny, nor do I have a winning, perfectly straight and gleaming white smile. And, I’ll be the first to admit, I am a whole lot of awkward.

But, believe it or not, I did compete in the 2011 and 2012 Miss Colusa County pageants.

While the pageant I competed in was just the typical county fair pageant, it was a real pageant.

I had to gracefully walk and turn on stage in my high heels and evening gown, recite a speech in lieu of a talent and, yes, I even had to strut around in a bathing suit in front of a huge crowd.

It was awesome, even if I went title-less. Granted, it’s a ton of hard work. We practiced our dance routine, speeches and turns for weeks, even months.

All of the contestants took time away from their families, friends, boyfriends and other commitments to train for this pageant. This is no exception for any women who participates in a pageant.

Sure the crown is a great prize, but what’s better is that most pageants are scholarship pageants, meaning the contestants must use the money towards some form of education, allowing them to return to, or continue in, school.

If I’m being completely honest, the scholarship and the crown aren’t even the most rewarding parts of winning a pageant.

For that whole year, from the minute you get the crown to the day you crown your successor, you are somebody’s role model.

I remember watching Miss USA, Miss America and Miss Colusa County and just thinking about how amazing it would be to represent my county, state and even my country.

I looked up to those women, those real women, women who could make a difference.

So when people say that the world would be better off without pageants because they can damage girls’ self esteem or body image since the participants conform to some sort of patriarchal ideal, allow me to object.

I would rather my future daughter look up to a woman like Miss USA rather than some half-naked celebrity or photoshopped model.

Or, I’d let her make that choice herself instead of trying to censor what she’s exposed to in order to shape her into what I think is best.

Isn’t that why people want to pull pageants in the first place?

Megan Mann can be reached at [email protected] or @meganisthemann on Twitter.