Thursday, March 15, 2012
Surely that Bible verse wasn't referring to beauty pageants
Having recently judged the 2012 Miss Seattle (WA) Pageant, I am amused/amazed someone from my background is considered an authority in selecting the ideal young woman to represent a city or state in the Miss America system.
Now that we're talking about Miss America, I have to take a minute to educate and inform you on the positive points of the Miss America system. First of all, you have to understand that this is not the toddlers and tiaras kind of pageant. A full 75% of the scoring in Miss America is talent and interview (including on-stage question). There are no fake teeth, here, people. This is glamour on an academic scale. There are those who get Miss USA and Miss America confused. Let me explain once and for all the differences between the two.
Number one, I would NEVER be involved with something Donald Trump had his name stamped all over. And all those YouTube videos with confusing answers to on-stage questions are part of the Miss USA competition, people. I assure you those baffled beauty queens are not Miss America.
A quick history: There was no Miss America 1950. Thiswas the year they started post dating the titles. As Miss America had added a talent component in the 1935 and the new winner (Miss America 1951) was Yolanda Betbeze, an accomplished opera singer from Alabama. At the time Catalina Swimwear was the major sponsor of the pageant and the winner was expected to serve as a swimsuit model for a year. Miss Betbeze refused stating she was an opera singer, not a swimsuit model. Lenora Slaughter, then Executive Director, agreed and told Catalina Swimwear as much. When they threatened to withdraw their support, Miss Slaughter said she would find other sponsors. Allegedly, at a press conference, Miss America 1949, Jacquie Mercer (from Arizona) remarked, “You should start your own pageant.” And they did and it was the birth of the Miss USA pageant, which has no talent category.
As a side note, I must say I love me some Miss Arizona. I had the privilege of judging their pageant in 2009 and met some amazing and fabulous women, including Misses Arizona 1984 (Rhonda White Pawlak) and 1986 (Terri Kettunen Muschott). Ms. Pawlak, took me to Sonic and then bargain clothes shopping after the pageant. You know I just adore her, right?
Now I am not saying that former Miss USA’s have no talent and aren’t intelligent. What I am saying is if you aren’t talented, intelligent and well-spoken you WILL NOT become Miss America. I don’t care how pretty you may be.
However, let us not forget there is a beauty component. If you are ugly, it doesn’t matter if you cure cancer on stage, you will not be crowned Miss America. Ugly will just not win. Odd looking or vaguely horse-faced but still not unattractive, sure; there have been those years but I shall not repeat them for you here. I don’t want to be impolite.
And I should know about beauty, I was 1st runner-up in the Little Mr. Dixieland pageant in 1975. The fact there were only 3 contestants is a not germane to this discussion. It could have been worse. I once showed my calf in the 4-H County Fair in Clarksville, TX and being the only entrant in my class I felt I would easily win Grand Champion. To my dismay, I was summarily awarded a white ribbon, which is the equivalent of third place. Yes, third place.
A little pageant birdie told me Miss America might be moving to Mississippi this year; Biloxi to be exact. I am pleased and not surprised. As one of the premiere pageant states, Mississippi is a logical choice. As Suzanne Sugarbaker once said, “You will never see an ugly Miss Mississippi.” No truer statement has ever been spoken. Mississippi has had 4 Miss Americas, which places us right behind California and Oklahoma with 6 each and Ohio, Pennsylvania, Illinois and Michigan with 5 each (Mary Catherine Campbell from Ohio won two years in a row in 1922-23, but I count her as one Miss America). Plus we’re the only state on the list with casinos and superior food, let’s just be honest. It just makes sense, doesn’t it? As a side note, three of the four Miss Americas from Mississippi were from Ole Miss. Do what you want with the information Mississippi State fans.
I love the Miss America system. I love the opportunities this program gives to young women. Interview skills to give them an edge over their competition in the job market are invaluable. And, of course, I love the excitement and the dresses and being surrounded by beauty. I get all bumfuzzled thinking about the glamour and the glitz, as long as it doesn’t involve children with those fake flipper teeth. My family would say that is rernt. And as someone who has judged the Vernon Alabama Street Fair Queen pageant, I know from rernt, do you hear me?
Now I have gone and forgotten the point of this missive, so I’ll just say see y’all in September at Miss America. I’ll be the perky gentleman near the front wearing my fantastic $6 vintage thrift store tuxedo. If you come early enough, we can count the number of pitiful Yankees wearing white shoes after Labor Day. This being in a casino, it could take awhile. I hope you bring snacks. Tater tots from Sonic should do the trick. Just saying.