Pageants, Pageants, Pageants! From Miss America to Miss USA to Mini Miss

A lot has been going on in the pageantry world recently and I've been writing and talking away!  All the biggies have gotten some press coverage. 1) Child pageants- Toddlers & Tiaras returned earlier this month and so far the biggest story to come out has been about Tinker Tea (a sick concoction of pixie sticks, Mountain Dew, and sweet tea). It turns green, hence it's name. Anyway, more evidence that the "reality" show has become a launching pad for all sorts of infamy and opportunities to make money as this mom attempts to sell her sad brew to others.

2) Miss USA- Of course, Miss Utah's flubbed answer stole the show. In case you missed it:

It's clear that her mind went blank-- you can see it happen-- and she did well answering a question a few minutes before. I don't think she's a rocket scientist, but her nerves clearly took over. To me it honestly wasn't as bad as Miss South Carolina Teen's answer from 2007, where the girl seemed to project the confidence that she was making sense. In any case, while I'm sure both were embarrassed, they did receive almost/more press than the winner, so...

Far more worrisome to me was how thin many of the contestants appeared; not just in swimsuit but also fully clothed. Their toothpick arms came up in a discussion I participated in on HuffPost live about "Making Over the Pageant Industry." I was the only non-pageant contestant on the panel, which included two former Miss Americas, one former Miss USA, one former MAO state queen, and one former MAO local winner.

3) Miss America- Speaking of Miss America, thankfully, more accomplishments than mistakes have been in the news thanks to Ericka Harold, Miss America 2003. Harold, who I spoke with last summer when I was writing a series of articles on beauty queen politicians, is enormously impressive. I went on record saying this recently in The Washington Post (this piece also discusses Heather French Henry, who is considering a run and who was on the HuffPost Live panel with me as well); sidenote, I simply love being described as a "pageant scholar" and I may add this to my CV! It's very disheartening to hear that Harold is being racially and sexually derided-- even by members of her own party. She, and all candidates, deserve better.

And I can speak from experience that not all pageant contestants blank on TV and they often do have important things to say and contribute to the world. I spent part of last week and the weekend judging Miss New Jersey in Ocean City, NJ. Cara McCollum, a rising senior at Princeton, was crowned and she will represent the state as the Pageant returns to its birthplace, Atlantic City, after seven years away. There will be a lot of attention on Miss New Jersey this year, but I'm confident Cara is up to the challenge. For more on her, and my thoughts, check out this blog entry I wrote for PAW (Princeton Alumni Weekly).

Cara McCollum and Miss NJ Judges, photo credit to Richard Krauss Photography