December 9, 2012
Miss Not So Perfect
She was asked one question. She had thirty seconds to answer. With her long blonde hair, perfect complexion, never ceasing smile, and sparkling blue dress, Miss Teen North Carolina, one of the last contestants left, plunged into the glass bowl for her question: “Recent polls have shown that 1/5 of Americans can’t locate the U.S. on a world map. Why do you think this is?” Taking a deep breath, still with her unfading smile, she answers,
I personally believe that U.S. Americans are unable to do so because some people out there in our nation don’t have maps, and I believe that our education like, such as in South Africa and the Iraq everywhere like such as. And I believe that they should, our education over here in the U.S. should help the U.S. or should help South Africa and should help the Iraq and the Asian countries so that we will be able to build up our future for our children.
Stereotypes for pageants often include world peace, dumb blondes, and plastered on smiles. Although outer beauty plays a role in all aged pageants, many people don’t know what really goes on in pageants. The superficial nature of beauty pageants even affects very young girls in our society. The popular TV show Toddlers & Tiaras once featured Algya 2
these sayings by contestants: “All children are beautiful it’s just some are more beautiful than others,” “Facial beauty is the most important thing in life,” “Beauty is painful,” “ I’m happy I won but I’m more happy about the McDonalds I get,” “My mom puts a girdle on me to go to bed,” “I like tanning so I can get brown like Beyonce,” “I don't even like dancing. I'm just here because my mom said she would buy me tacos,” (Toddlers & Tiaras). These statements were said by girls from ages four to ten. Do beauty pageants have harmful effects on those who participate? Although we may laugh at a few of them, these statements give us a reason to explore the negative stereotypes surrounding beauty pageants.
One stereotype often found in beauty pageants is that of who can participate. Are their prejudices against certain races, religions, or even ages? During her exploration into the world of beauty pageants, “There She Is, Mrs. America…” author and Slate Magazine reporter Emily Yoffe said that she wanted to see what it would be like to participate in a beauty pageant. However, since she is a married woman, running for Miss America was not an option. There is in fact a Mrs. America pageant reserved specifically for married women, and Yoffe writes, “I found it reassuring that the Mrs. America online application, which asked for my name, address and color of my hair, offered gray as a hair choice,” (Yoffe 1). This story counters any age prejudices that could arise. There are pageants for every age, be it four or forty. Although we have conquered the idea of age prejudice, this still leaves us to question any racial or religious differences that could turn into prejudices. In her book Muscogee Daughter: My Sojourn to the Miss America Pageant, Susan Supernaw, an Algya 3
American Indian, tells about her past and how she made it from a dingy little farm to superstardom. While she is lying in bed paralyzed from the waist down, she is thinking about her Mother, a white woman: “Unlike her parents, Mom respected American Indians and their beliefs. Living a simple life on the reservation, she went to school with many Osage children and thought herself no better than her classmates. She believed that what was inside a person was more important than the color of their skin or their religious or cultural beliefs.” From this perspective we can see that not all people of different beliefs have prejudices against other cultures. To obtain a better understanding of how unlikely her fame was, lets look at Supernaw’s childhood and how she grew up: “We lived, with our meager budget, in a small rented...