If you follow MAO at all, you probably are aware of the recent minor issue surrounding current Miss America, Betty Cantrell. I won’t be posting details or links here, as I think the author in particular had an agenda when writing the piece. Total proof-texting of that lunch conversation! But, it was a good time for me to be reminded of why I do love Miss America.
I competed for four years at the state level. I finished in the top five every time and won a lot of scholarship money. Then I went on to judge, volunteer, and help run a very successful local pageant here in Iowa. And now I do this. Obviously, I support it to enough of a degree that I have been around it for about 15 years!
The national organization has its issues just like any big company with many smaller branches would. I don’t love all of their policies and procedures. I think some new rules are alienating fans, volunteers, and coaches. And if you are lucky enough to actually win the title of Miss America, you are probably in for a very long, rough year – as would be the case for the national face of any well-established organization. It’s pretty rough to be the one person for an entire year representing a whole organization with as much history and prestige as Miss America.
But for any flaws or issues you can find, the value of the organization far outweighs the bad. I am part of their story. I see lives transformed every day by the tenacity and dedication young women exhibit who compete in MAO. The scholarships, service, and skills gained are life-long assets.
MAO is made at its most basic level. We all see and pay attention to the winner and higher ups, sure! But it really is about the 1,500+ contestants each year. The sisterhood and the bond. The blood, sweat, and tears from local and state volunteers. It’s in all the not-Miss-Americas that I see the greatest value in the organization. This is where the heart of Miss America lies – and I love it.