On Monday May 21, a new Miss USA was crowned: Sarah Rose Summers. It’s easy to see why she won; she’s a country girl who grew up in Nebraska, earned two degrees from Texas Christian University in strategic communication and child development, and is certified to be a child life specialist. She’s the exact kind of person that pageants look for. But this poses the question, should pageants still exist in 2018? My answer is, well, kind of.
If any pageants should be abolished, it should be child pageants. Child pageants are purely exploitative. Just look at Honey Boo Boo. Unless the child themselves chose to be in the pageant, they should not be forced by the parent to partake in such events. Also, swimwear sections of pageants should not exist. They are outdated and based on perversion. You don’t need to see what a woman looks like in a bikini to understand that she’s trying to shape herself. I was glad to hear that the Miss America pageant was removing that section of the pageant for next year. This helps remove the idea that contestants need to slim way down, causing them to develop eating disorders and depression.
However, participants in young adult and adult pageants join of their own volition. The benefits are enough to motivate anyone to join. For starters, many pageants offer scholarship opportunities. According to collegescholarships.com, contestants in certain pageants can earn up to $10k in scholarships which can also be used to pay off college debt. The Miss America winner can earn up to $50K which can also be used to pay for future education and college debt. While holding the title of Miss USA, living expenses are taken care of and a six-figure salary is dished out over the year of the reign, according to Bustle.
Pageants can also help a contestant become a more complete person. In most modern pageants The stereotype of contests being cruel towards each other and sabotaging others in pageants is mostly false.
“Pageants have provided me with friendships, confidence, poise, discipline, stamina and the knowledge that all I need is to be my authentic self to change the world,” said pageant participant Cierra Richards, a Pacific Lutheran University alum and title holder for three separate pageants said to me in an inverview. “I’ve never experienced the stereotype of girls trying to sabotage anyone else. We really are a sisterhood which is constantly working to build each other up while helping our communities.”
The idea that pageants also only focus on purely the physical appearance of the contestant isn’t the case as much as it was before. While still an important part with the idea that the slimmer they are, the healthier they eat and more they exercise, the wholesomeness of the person is more important. The reason Summers won the Miss USA pageant was mostly because of how well rounded of a person she is. The idea of a pageant is to celebrate femininity, not that they look like supermodels.
Overall, I don’t see a major problem with pageants. Other than the child pageants, pageants have a place in society. People enjoy participating in them and enjoy watching them. 13 million people watched the 2017 Miss USA pageant according to Statistica. They deserve to still be around.