Last night, Betty Cantrell, Miss Georgia, was crowned Miss America. As I do every year, I was watching it when Chris surprised me by coming up to bed early. When he walked in, it was on a commercial, so he asked what I was watching. As I expected, he chuckled, but I kept watching. The thing is, I truly enjoy the Miss America pageant.
I’ve been watching the Miss America pageant for a looking as I can remember. I started by watching it with my mom – after all, I was a little girl who loved fancy dresses. I would wait the entire show just for the evening gown portion. Let me tell you – they know what they’re doing there in putting it at the end. That’s how you get a kid to watch all the other stuff.
Now I know that some people see Miss America as just a beauty pageant, a pretty girl thing. I can see where they’re coming from with that – after all, most of the women competing are gorgeous, but they’re not just pretty girls. They’re smart women, talented women. Women with thoughts and opinions and careers. Women with dreams, women that have worked hard for those dreams. These are women that see this as their opportunity to better themselves, to make their mark.
Miss America isn’t just about beauty, but also about all the other things that are part of you. It’s about confidence. That bathing suit competition? I’m sure it’s tough for all of them. We all have our own fears and insecurities about our bodies, no matter how they look to others. The talent? Some of these women are so incredibly naturally talented at music and dance. Some have a different kind of talent – like Miss Colorado (Kelley Johnson), a nurse who did a monologue about nursing as her talent, something I’d never seen before and admired. Talent is everywhere, not just in the performing arts.
Those evening gowns? Think of the poise it takes to wear them well, to walk easily and without tripping over the length (a talent in itself to me) . Finally, there’s the questions, where they have to show strength of conviction and the ability to think on their feet to answer a question quickly, respectfully, and clearly. It’s not easy, and they only get 20 seconds to do it.
So I keep watching, year after year, because these women inspire me. They are intelligent, driven, beautiful women, all trying to make a difference any way they can. They give all of themselves to what they do, and they are always trying to be better.
That’s how I want to be. Inspired.