When you hear the words “Miss America”, there are a few things that come to mind. For most people, pageants are associated with big hair, high heels and a lot of makeup. But for those competing, there is much more that comes with the crown than the fake eyelashes and pretty dresses.
On September 11th, the 2017 Miss America Pageant will be aired on live television. Millions will be watching to see which girls are the most well-rounded, educated, and talented. However, what many don’t know is the preparation and hard work that is exuded for weeks, months, or even years prior to competing for the title of Miss America.
The Miss America Organization is the largest scholarship provider for young women in the United States. The winner of the Miss America Pageant will receive a fifty-thousand-dollar scholarship to further her education after her year of service. Additionally, she will travel the nation promoting her personal platform while raising money for the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.
Once winning Miss America, the spotlight is on you 24/7. You always are dressed up, make public speeches and even attend popular award shows such as the CMT Awards and even the Oscars. Between the glamorous photographs and autographs, you become a famous icon for an entire year. And from an outsiders’ point of view, Miss America seems to be what society considers, “perfect”.
But, behind the glamorous life and “perfection”, she is just like you!
Two years ago, I was fortunate enough to meet Miss America 2015, Kira Kazantsev, at the 2015 Miss South Carolina Scholarship Pageant. She sat down with all of the contestants that week to give us advice and a pep-talk before beginning competition. You would think she would look flawless and glamorous during our meeting.
Wrong. She was wearing sweatpants, had her hair in a bun, and told us her favorite food was pizza with ranch. She made all of us feel comfortable, which is exactly what every young woman wants to feel when she meets Miss America.
Having the title of Miss America does not make a woman become immune to every day struggles.
I didn’t discover pageants until my freshman year of high school. I had never worn makeup or a pretty dress, or even considered competing in a pageant. During my first pageant I tripped on stage, ripped my dress, and didn’t even place. And even though I almost fell off of the stage, I fell in love with it. Then I discovered the Miss America Organization in 2014, where I found my home. I loved being on stage, I loved being in the spotlight and I loved showing my talent in front of thousands of people.
But most importantly, I loved that I was being myself.
This was the way I was able to express myself. Whether you express yourself through pageants, art, music, or even Her Campus, do it because you love it.
When you see Miss America, or any woman with a crown on her head, do not assume she is perfect. Miss America can have stresses and insecurities like anyone else. No one on this planet was made perfect, but I do believe everyone was made beautiful in their own unique way.
Be weird and be quirky! Take silly selfies and eat that extra slice of pizza because life is too short to not eat all of the food that you want. And most importantly, love yourself. A woman is not crowned for her outer beauty–she is crowned because of her goals, personality, and drive to help others.
A crown or sash does not define you.
It is only you that defines you.
Tune in September 11th on ABC at 9 pm! For more information about The Miss America Pageant, visit this website.