Five Things Women in the Miss America Organization Wish You Knew

There she is…Miss America! The iconic competition just took place last night with Miss North Dakota, Cara Mund, taking home the crown. While it’s so much fun betting on different states, fan-girling at the different evening gowns, and judging the contestants’ onstage questions, there is so much more that goes on behind the scenes than people realize. Because most of the world only views the annual live broadcast of Miss America, a lot of assumptions are made about the organization that are generally untrue or only partially true. It’s time to debunk those myths, and share what women in the Miss America Organization wish you knew.

1. We believe in being healthy, and not in starving ourselves.

A common stereotype about girls who compete in the MAO is that they starve themselves to be skinny…and that is definitely not the case. The swimsuit competition’s official title is “Lifestyle and Fitness,” and the stated purpose of the competition is to showcase the competitor’s physical, emotional, and intellectual health; the competition’s objective is to determine which contestant loves and takes care of her body.

"I can honestly say that I have never once starved myself while competing in this organization. I focus on eating a balanced diet with carbs, fats, and protein, and I do my best to maintain it all year round. But if I’m feeling like a cheeseburger…then I’m going to eat a cheeseburger." - Miss Timpanogos 2018 

"The swimsuit competition isn't about who’s the skinniest and who starves herself the most - it is about being physically and emotionally healthy.  To prepare for the competition, I really tried to focus on healthy eating. I would prep my meals at the beginning of the week so that when my days got busy, I had a prepared meal I could grab on the go.” – Miss Cache Valley 2017 Codi Smith


2. Being a titleholder is rarely glitzy or glamorous.

When people refer to us as “beauty queens,” it really throws us off. That might seem backwards because we compete in the Miss America Organization (aka the most well-known beauty pageant system in the nation)...but A LOT has changed since its inception in 1921.To provide some perspective, each titleholder that participates holds their respective title for one year, and that year is called the "year of service" because community service is the primary focus of the organization. Whether it be shoveling gravel - yes, shoveling gravel - making blankets for cancer patients with elementary school kids, or fundraising for the Children’s Miracle Network, the majority of what we do is service.

"It's a lot of HARD WORK. Earning your glitz isn't easy. Lots of girls work for years and sometimes never make it." - Miss Eastern Utah 2016 Lindsey Lloyd

Additionally, 75% of the competition scores are based off of the “Talent” and “Interview” portions alone which goes to show that this organization is dedicated to promoting powerful women, and not focused on who looks prettiest in a dress.

"After the crown is placed on your head…you get to work; there are no more spray tans or evening gowns. Most of the time, I was changing in the car or in gas stations in between my appearances as Miss Utah. It was rewarding hard work, but rarely glamorous. A lot of times I was in a rush from one place to another and would put on makeup while my business manager was driving me to my next event!" – Miss Utah 2009 Whitney Merrifield Thomas


3. We love each other.

Most of us go into the competition looking to make friends and develop relationships. Some of the best people I know are the women I’ve met through competing. The infamous “cattiness” is extremely rare. We stand backstage cheering each other on, we're there to provide hugs and pick-me-ups, we go out for pizza and fries together, and we offer tips and advice to build each other's confidence levels. We compete with each other, and not against each other because real queens fix each other's crowns.


"I have met some of my best friends through pageantry. They have changed my life for the better, and if it wasn't for competing, we might have never come in contact with each other!" - Miss Sandy 2018 Mimi Peyregne

4. We develop so many important life skills through the MAO.

Through participating in the organization, you develop and acquire so many skills that are crucial to succeeding in the real world. In preparation for the “Interview” competition, we stay up-to-date on current events - after listening to hours of the radio and podcasts, we're totally ready to give you our opinions and facts on everything from climate change to North Korea. Aside from that, we learn how to market ourselves, and create our own brands by promoting our unique platforms, partnerships, and territories that we represent. We also become event programmers through hosting and planning our own fundraisers, charity events, and performances. The list of skills is endless. Essentially, participating in the MAO would be best summed up as being equivalent to Life Skills 101. 

"The whole Miss America experience is so empowering, and makes you so well-rounded. The crown provides you with a bigger voice and sphere of influence, and all the while you’re learning to embrace your feminine side and yourself as an individual." - Miss Utah 2009 Whitney Merrifield Thomas

5. There is no one type of "pageant girl."

Competing in the Miss America Organization is just one part of our lives! We don't take ourselves too seriously because what we do is really just about having fun, loving others, and loving ourselves. Each woman who participates is truly unique, and has her own reasons for choosing to compete. Some women are passionate about promoting healthy eating, and they compete so that they can have a platform to share their message. Some need scholarship money, others just want to experience the competition, etc. Because there is no one "pageant girl" mold, it's wrong to stereotype or think of us as all possessing the same qualities. Just like women who participate in a sorority or a soccer team - they may be a part of those groups, but they are each still unique individuals.

The four points of the Miss America crown represent style, service, scholarship, and success. While the actual pageant may be really fun, those four points are the heart of this organization, and they each uniquely propel women to inspire and lift others up while becoming the best versions of themselves. That's what it's all about!