Monday, February 12, 2007

Miss America and What Miss America was Missing

Photo above: Miss New York and Miss New York City titleholders Jessica Lynch, Alice Bugman and Andrea Miller in black evening gowns with contestant Noelle Ashley
Photo below: Noelle Ashley competing on stage in 2002; New York City

This year’s MISS AMERICA broadcast was the 1st time I’ve seen the behind-closed-doors panel interviews featured on TV, even if only in short clips. The most important part of the competition occurs off the air, when each lady faces a long table of judges. The judges (including political commentator and journalist Chris Matthews) fire questions on topics from politics to personal goals to issues such as health care.

Questions asked this year: Who is the most important woman in America today?
Should Roe Vs. Wade be overturned?
How will you modernize Miss America?
What do you think about rap music?
If you could be a character in any fairy tale, who would you be and why?
Have you ever eaten a cow you know personally?
How come Faulkner never used commas?

Q & A with the 3 finalists: What gives you confidence in America?
Miss Texas: What gives me confidence in America is that I had to pull myself up by my own boot straps. This is America and we can get education if we want it. It doesn’t matter if you’re rich. It doesn’t matter if you’re poor. It doesn’t matter if you have to take out a student loan. Education is one of the best things that we have in America and it’s an entitlement to every American.

Question: If you became President of the U.S., what is the first thing you’d do?
Miss Georgia: First, I’d invite Miss America to dinner…(audience laughter) and then make sure no child is left behind. Even if I’m not Miss America, I’ll always be a teacher.…I want to help the kids be the best they can be…and not test the kids so much.

Question: Women make up more than 50% of the population but, compared to men, only earn 76 cents on the dollar. What would you do to change that?
Miss Oklahoma: By being a role model, a Miss America, shows that women are strong and can succeed in our society. I think that by being a good role model, we can change that.

More Q & A: If you had to take a long plane trip, who would you rather sit next to: George Bush or Bill Clinton and why?
Miss Georgia: Bill Clinton. I think I’ve seen enough of George for now.
Q: Who is the most powerful woman in the world to you today?
Miss Georgia: Besides my mother, I’m going to go cliché and say Oprah. She’s getting so much slack for helping women in Africa, and she doesn’t care.
Q: How does Oprah cross all the historic problems and go the heart of people?
Miss Georgia: I think she’s real. She’s not trying to put on a façade.

Q: If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? Miss Oklahoma - Lauren Nelson: I’d probably be three inches taller. I wish I had a little bit longer legs for swimsuit competition, especially. I’m 5’6.
Q: Do you ever pray to be taller?
Miss Oklahoma - Lauren Nelson: (after repeating the question in surprise) That’s not one of the things I pray for.
Q: What do you pray for?
Miss Oklahoma - Lauren Nelson: I pray for peach within myself, I pray for my family, I thank God for all the Blessings he’s given me, I thank God for putting me in a position where I can make a difference and for putting me here for a reason because this year more than ever, I think my faith has helped me. I use it to keep me in the right mindset.
(The above quotes are accurate according to the trancript of Miss America. If you see an error, please post a comment below.)

Since its first appearance on TV, what was missing from Miss America was an emphasis on the interview portion, the part that shows how informed and well-spoken each woman is. This part reveals her character as she speaks about what makes her passionate. If the public only sees close-up of bikinis and smiles, it is easy for people to mischaracterize what is actually an empowering scholarship program. I used to compete in the often-misunderstood, controversial pageant that is Miss America. It is not the same as Miss USA, which is judged on looks alone. Miss America is judged on her public speaking, talent, commitment to charity and commitment to fitness. (For more information, here is an editorial I published during my experience as a contestant.)
From reading the above Q&As, which contestant earned YOUR vote?
What do you think are the qualities that a Miss America should represent?


posted by - @ 2/12/2007 02:52:00 PM |


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