2019 Miss America Competition · Competition

Miss America 2019

Can I be honest for a quick minute?

 

I haven’t really been into Miss America this summer 😦

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Between state-season burnout; the ever-evolving, confusing direction of Miss America leadership; busy summer schedules; national pageant in-fighting; a horrific family tragedy; the start of school; Miss America 2.0 changes; and dealing with our own complicated mess of kid-parent dynamics; I’ve sort of holed up and hunkered down. I’ve been putting priorities in other areas of my life – and rightfully so – and it has just made Miss America drama simmer to a low heat on the back burner.

And in the vein of honesty, I haven’t quite known what do tell contestants who are hesitant to compete this year.

I totally get it: why would you spend time and money preparing for locals that may not even exist for the next state pageant season? Based on the track record thus far, we have no confidence or confirmation of what changes are possible and what ideas are off limits. So for now, all I can do is understand and reflect their hesitation.

I – along with every single fan, supporter, volunteer, and participant that I know – am horribly disappointed with many of the decisions of Miss America leadership. This goes well beyond swimsuit. I was able to see at least some good in that change. The disappointment lies in taking away the iconic crown logo and replacing it with what looks like a garden lattice. In taking away the runway. In dropping the “Miss” from the contestants’ titles (which, by the way, is incredibly contradictory to still call this MISS America). In making last-minute bids for People’s Choice (sponsored by Pageant Planet, which again, where is the branding consistency? I thought we weren’t associating ourselves with pageants anymore?) In ripping away so many classic Miss America staples we’ve come to love. In the not-so-thinly veiled references to and posters about “fierceness” to promote personal book sales. In communicating NOTHING consistent to your state and local volunteers to give them confidence in your abilities to lead. In watching leaders silence and bully your Miss America – the very things for which Ms. Carlson has been lauded for bringing to light at Fox News.

And it’s in the feeling that we trusted an iconic organization in the hands of someone who has systematically alienated those who oppose her and has somehow been able to surround herself by those who only agree with her. It’s disheartening at best. And my heart just isn’t in it.

But for the sake of tradition (ahem, nothing wrong with tradition!) and to try and get myself excited for tomorrow, I’m putting a few thoughts to “paper” here on who I think we will see shine Sunday night. I won’t point to every single contestant, but here are a few general notes:

  • Leadership has EVERYTHING to lose and NOTHING to gain by crowning the “same ‘ole Miss America.” Which will be difficult since all the state titleholders were chosen on the old criteria and phases of competition. So I expect that raising talent to 50% of your preliminary score is ensuring that “mediocre” talent stays off of the telecast. They want to prove that Miss America’s Got Talent.
  • I also think, in an affirmative action kind of way, young women who don’t have the “typical” look of a pageant contestant will be of great interest to the leadership. Yes, there are judges, but those judges have been told exactly what is at stake, and what the leadership wants in Miss America 2.0. They know they have ONE chance to change America’s mind about Miss America, and if they only see long, flowy hair, tall, thin bodies, and perfectly poised contestants, no one will think anything is different. Look for contestants who don’t fit the mold tomorrow night: curves, natural hair, spunky attitude, supreme talent, mixed or minority races, Oprah-type speaking abilities.

With that, here are my top 20:

  1. Louisiana
  2. Tennessee
  3. Arkansas
  4. Massachusetts
  5. Connecticut
  6. Oklahoma
  7. Delaware
  8. Mississippi
  9. Indiana
  10. Wisconsin
  11. DC
  12. Maryland
  13. Virginia
  14. Iowa
  15. California
  16. Florida
  17. New York
  18. South Carolina
  19. Alabama
  20. North Carolina

From there, I narrow to these 11 (cuz 10 was TOO DARN HARD!):

  1. Louisiana
  2. Tennessee
  3. Arkansas
  4. Massachusetts
  5. Oklahoma
  6. Mississippi
  7. DC
  8. Iowa
  9. Florida
  10. New York
  11. South Carolina

And then to 5:

  1. Louisiana
  2. Iowa
  3. Massachusetts
  4. DC
  5. South Carolina

I’m biased. I think Iowa should win. But how AMAZING would it be to have two women wearing their natural afro hair in the top two?! (PS, I have no idea what the PC thing is to call an afro, so I’m calling it an afro.) As a child with a legit afro, I can’t tell you how much it would have inspired me to turn on the TV and see young women with hair like ME standing at the end of a “beauty” pageant. I hope we get to see at least one of them in the top five: mostly because they earned it on their own merit.

But also a little bit because if ANYTHING good comes out of this whole 2.0 mess, I hope that it gives younger girls the confidence to be themselves at home, in school, and yes, even on the Miss America stage. Poofy hair and all.

As usual, follow along at www.facebook.com/MYMPageant for live commentary by yours truly. We’ll see how this whole thing shakes down, watch who our next Miss America will be, and hope a riot doesn’t erupt at Boardwalk Hall when our leaders take the stage. I’m not holding my breath….

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