My focus should have been on the dozens of intelligent, talented women who had the courage to walk across the stage in swimsuits and the spirit to contribute a year of their lives to community service. Instead, I found my attention captured by an oxymoron: a top 15 Miss America contestant proclaimed modesty, while she simultaneously walked across stage in a plunging, not-so-modest evening gown.
During the evening gown competition, Miss South Carolina Rachel Wyatt’s pre-recorded sound bite said this as she walked across the stage: “Something we’ve lost sight of as a culture is how important it is to be modest, and I think Miss America is a role model for so many young girls, and they need to know that you don’t have to wear revealing clothing or be sexy to be beautiful. You just need to be you.” All this, as she modeled a daring, albeit stunning, evening gown that was recklessly revealing of her *ahem* assets.
I 100% agree with her message, but I couldn’t believe she chose to wear that dress. If she knew she was going to talk about being demure (and I assume she meant modesty in clothing), didn’t she realize it could backfire?
Apparently I wasn’t the only one who noticed this inconsistency, because the Twitterverse had a lot to say about it:
Who am I to judge, you ask? Well, I’m actually a bona fide Miss America preliminary pageant judge. Not only did I compete in a pageant or two (or forty) back in the day — I judged for several years in the Miss America local circuits in Louisiana and Arkansas. I blogged previously about how much I learned from competition, and why I think it’s valuable to compete. I was the first Asian-American to compete in Miss Louisiana, and I was proud to see this year’s Miss Louisiana Justine Ker make the top 15 in the Miss America 2017 pageant. I can claim a teeny, tiny bit of credit in her success — I coached her in interview once! But just once. 😉
Even though I never took home the Miss Louisiana crown, I’m still to this day grateful for the life skills I gained from competition — and how two full years of undergrad and one year of grad school college tuition were completely funded because of beauty pageants.
I also use my title of “former beauty queen” to gain extra credibility on my “Beauty News with Angela Cruz” YouTube channel, in which I focus upon the beauty industry. I truly believe the public speaking skills I gained through pageant competition gave me a boost to eventually become a news anchor, and then ultimately to launch this channel. Inadvertently, the channel helped me achieve a dream-come-true, when I won the Today Show’s Social Star contest for YouTube! Just think — none of that would have happened if I didn’t have the confidence that came from competing in beauty pageants.
Speaking of public speaking, South Carolina as a pageant state had already risen to national attention when Miss Teen USA South Carolina fumbled her on-stage question, bless her heart. Thankfully, there was nothing like that in this year’s Miss America 2017 pageant — and there were moments in the competition when I was very impressed with what I saw (Miss Mississippi Laura Lee Lewis can SING, y’all!). If you’re a former Miss America local competitor like I am, the Miss America pageant is your Super Bowl. Each year, I watch it with great interest. But I was shocked, and more than a little distracted, by the walking contradiction that was Rachel Wyatt’s evening gown choice. I was reminded that it’s not what you SAY– it’s what you DO that counts.
However, Wyatt’s gamble paid off. She can laugh all the way to the bank, since she won first runner-up. All I can say to that is: you go, girl!
I have to wrap this up with a congratulations to the newly-crowned Miss America 2017, Savvy Shields, who represented the state of Arkansas.
What are your thoughts? Comment below on whether or not you agree with the judges’ decision to reward Rachel’s risky reveal by voting her first runner-up!