Mallory Hagan, Miss America 2013, was recently asked in an interview “Is Miss America still relevant?” As someone who is a local titleholder for the Miss America Organization, I was immediately caught off guard by this statement. Miss America titleholders are lawyers, doctors, journalists, community organizers, politicians, and so much more. We are the nation’s leaders! People see us on stage and at events with our gown, crown, and sash, and assume that we spend our entire year playing dress up. While in fact, we raise thousands of dollars for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, in addition to spreading awareness to our own personal causes throughout our year of service. Miss America women are inspiring the next generation of women to fearlessly speak their truth! We are showing girls of all ages and ethnicities to break through glass ceilings and to not allow stereotypes to prohibit them from relentlessly chasing after their dreams.
As women, we are stereotyped as being “Bossy” when we are in authoritative positions and take initiative in delegating responsibilities to the people that work for us. If you are a black woman and you boldly speak your mind, you might be labeled as “Angry.” When you are in a position of leadership working with a predominantly male audience, they might belittle you as an individual who cannot make difficult decisions because you are “too emotional”. These are the lies that have been fed to us since we were little girls, and we have to break through them!
The Miss America Organization fosters an environment where WOMEN EMPOWER WOMEN to break through these barriers and be their best selves! We support one another’s dreams while pushing each other to be a woman that girls can look up to.
Miss America is so much more than a pretty face; she is a BOSS. We need to start teaching girls at a very young age that their worth is not defined by their physical appearance, it is defined by their character and dedication to make a difference in the lives of others. This is why I become so upset when people call Miss America a “beauty pageant.” The Miss America organization is the largest scholarship provider for women in the WORLD, and we spend more of our time volunteering in our communities than we do strutting across the stage in our gowns. The heartbeat of the Miss America Organization is service, but often times we are labeled as these unempathetic lifeless barbie dolls with no life purpose.
Even if you aren’t competing in the Miss America Organization, we all have stereotypes and labels that society uses to define us. That stereotype can be associated with your ethnicity, gender, or religion. Do not allow these stereotypes to determine the trajectory of your life because our next generation of women is depending on you to rewrite the script.