Is it a way of earning money or throwing it away? Is it a way to build a person up or to tear them down? Is it a way to be a role model or a way to be ridiculed? These questions can most commonly be heard when discussing beauty pageants. There is an ongoing controversy about the benefits or harm that beauty pageants can cause to their contestants. There are two-sides to every controversy, but in the matter of pageants the benefits of entering one easily outweighs the negatives.
The debate about beauty pageants is as varied as the kind of beauty pageants which are in existence today. Pageants go anywhere from the traditional late teens, early twenties, type pageant; to children’s pageants; to pageants for the disabled; and pageants for everything in between. No matter what kind of pageant it is, beauty is always a factor in determining the pageant’s outcome. That does not necessarily mean exterior beauty though; some pageants focus on inner beauty and strength.
The most well known pageant in the United States is of course the Miss America pageant. It dates back all the way to the year of 1921 and was held in Atlantic City. This pageant focuses on unmarried, childless women, between the ages of 17 and 24. The Miss America pageant consists of talent swimwear, eveningwear, and interview portions. A contestant must win a variety of lower level pageants in order to compete at this level.
The Miss America organization is a large contributor for granting scholarships to young women. They offer over $40 million in cash and tuition scholarship assistance
each year to their contestants. This is a massive plus to the contestants and is one of the many reasons that pageants are a great thing for young women to enter in.
Women of today are entering pageants for financial purposes. Statistics show that the Miss America organization assists 12,000 young women in one year alone to attain their undergraduate or graduate degree. These women who have competed at local, state, and national levels find themselves debt free and some of them did not necessarily win. A contestant does not have to be the winner to achieve financial success. They can receive scholarships by excelling in certain events like talent, interview, most photogenic and such.
A good example would be Angela Perez Brarquis, Miss American of 2001. Angela was the second youngest of ten children and she knew that money for her college education would be limited. The scholarship aspect of beauty pageants is what attracted her to them. It was her ticket to a college education. She was not only able to fund her master’s degree in education, but was also able to help out her parents financially. Her opportunities did not stop there. She also was involved with a television show with her sister and was able to start a charitable foundation supporting character education in the school system.
Rebecca King, Miss American 1974, had grown up in a small Colorado farming community and she saw the Miss America pageant system as a way to fund her way through law school. She used her scholarship money to complete her law degree and start her own legal practice specializing in family law. She also has a strong passion for Wichmann 4
showing kids the possibilities in life. Rebecca works with children’s organizations and travels throughout the United States delivering a message which she hopes inspires teenagers to find direction in their lives. She goes back to pageants for helping her get a start on these many endeavors she has in her life and giving her the confidence to deliver messages to the teens.
Another young woman, Megan Rowe, was Miss Boise 2011. She began competing in pageants when she was 17 years old. Her main reason to compete was for the scholarship money. She graduated from Boise State debt free and has also attributed the pageants to giving her personal confidence. She has become a public speaker on...