Musings on Miss America, Outstanding Teen and finding purpose... By the mom of Miss Oregon and a Marine recruit
I took this shot of the Miss America Parents “Class of 2018” as we waited to go in for the final night show. North Dakota (whose daughter won) are in front of my husband Jim-left front row. As at the 2013 teen events, we parents called each other by state names, it was much easier!
Throughout the years, I have learned much through the activities of my two daughters; about the toughness of USMC boot camp, the incredibly varied aspects of a police officer’s job, about human trafficking, world refugee resettlement, and more.
Harley is Miss Oregon 2017, and Charlie is a new Marine recruit who graduated high school early and just arrived at Parris Island. They each have goals and are motivated to follow paths that grew out of experiences and service. I am thankful for the mentors and role models they have had. More on this in another post, this is a mid-year update as ‘pageant season’ is beginning here in Oregon!
Both of them were in the local and Miss Oregon Outstanding Teen program. We found this program by a random comment from a friend when Harley was a freshman in high school. I did not know it existed or anyone involved, did not realize it was a volunteer organization, and very little cost to participate.
The benefits of competing in Miss America local programs are great, and with the leadership change, it is an exciting time to be recruiting new contestants. I have no doubt if this had been available to me as a teen, I would have had a big jump start in career decision-making, social and interview skills, being a more polished performer, confidence, and learning how to present myself. I encourage anyone with a girl of any age in their life to seek out a local program, join, or go watch a pageant to find out more. The ‘pageant parents’ I know are a fun, friendly and encouraging group, and at Miss America (and Miss America’s Teen 2013) it was no different; they are down-to-earth folks from all over who are grateful for their kids to have opportunities and learn skills that will carry them throughout life.
On what is being said about Miss America;
Many comments I have read on general media sites deride the "Lifestyle and fitness in swimsuit" portion of the competition. Harley and I have been talking about this for a few years now. Bravo to her for choosing to wear a more sporty suit at Miss America, and I’m glad she was noted for it, even making it into Pageant Planet’s top 10. Since there was no swimsuit sponsor this year, and contestants choice, we assumed most or all would use the opportunity to make fashion statements in this area, but Oregon and Pennsylvania were the only ones who wore other than the classic bikini.
After 6 years of watching pageants, it is also evident that winners in the swimsuit competition are often the ones who have naturally thinner physiques, and though most all of them are certainly well toned, perhaps walking with confidence in heels is not really a way to compete in fitness. In the past few years, the fitness wear industry has exploded, and there are so many outfits that are super cute and every bit as sexy as a bikini. Wouldn’t it be great if they had contestants do something onstage? Like my recruit daughter had to do to get into the Marines: a certain number of crunches in under a minute, and pull-ups from a bar. That could be fun to watch, and would definitely measure fitness. The Teen program goes in this direction, but it is still basically a dance routine. With some changes, it may create wider interest and attract more Miss contestants. Changing up the fitness aspect would also differentiate it more from Miss USA.
Someone commented in the New York Times that the evening gown competition should be eliminated (“Who wears an evening gown now anyways?”). I've heard this said before, but it isn't the point to wear everyday clothing. These pageants bring a bit of glamour that is missing from most of our lives. Wearing a gown makes any girl feel special, and makes the shows visually interesting. Families dress up too, and it's nice to see everyone taking photos. But yes, there are occasions where people still dress up and wear a gown or nice cocktail dress! However, it would be nice if they did something here too, combine onstage interview(occasionally I've seen this done). Or, what if contestants debated some issue? That would be fun to watch too.
I hope this year’s titleholders and the new national leadership use this opportunity keep Miss America in the news and to speak about the good in the organization.
One last shout out to Atlantic City for their wonderful hospitality! We were so welcomed there, and met many gracious locals. Also, Dick Clark Productions was awesome to the contestants. So sad they dropped the partnership, but understandable. Maybe they will sign back on. In Atlantic City at a parents meeting, the producer told all of us that Miss America is his most favorite show to do out of all the others that DCP produces, including the awards shows. He said he loves the state contestants; they are great to work with, so very accomplished and genuine. That was so nice to hear!
Laura has been a theatre design professional, teacher/professor, collegiate athlete, performer, church music leader, artist, shop foreman, administrator, and entrepreneur; and is a lifelong student.