Tara's Take: Squash the Stereotypes

By: Tara Wheeler
By: Tara Wheeler

I was Miss Virginia 2008 and competed in the Miss America competition. It was one of the toughest, most rewarding years of my life and helped give me the platform for success I have built to this day. What I don't understand is why, for some reason, the Miss America program is constantly battling negative stereotypes to survive.... I hope you will set your stereotypes aside and tune in this Saturday at 9pm on ABC to see for yourself the caliber of young women who have the honor of gracing the Miss America stage. I guarantee you will be surprised, impressed, and will become a fan.

I was Miss Virginia 2008 and competed in the Miss America 2009 competition. It was one of the toughest, most rewarding years of my life and helped give me the platform for success I have built to this day. That being said, what I don't understand is why the Miss America program is constantly battling negative stereotypes to survive.

People think it's a program glorifying girls who have nothing to offer but their looks.

In reality, the Miss America organization says:

- Yea, we'd like you to know how to put yourself together and showcase your style and grace in a gown (movie stars do the same thing on the red carpet, as part of their formula for success)

-And, sure, we'd like you to be physically fit (i.e. "Shape" magazine, proudly displaying hard-earned healthy and toned physiques)

-But most importantly, we'd like you to be talented, dedicated to serving your community, and above all, SMART

-Show us you're the type of well-rounded-over-achiever that's poised to make their mark on this world in a positive way, and we'll pay for your education AND help give you the connections and exposure to jump-start your career.

Why should something that provides such amazing opportunities have to constantly battle negative and inaccurate stereotypes to validate it's relevance?

In addition, Miss America is VERY different from Miss USA (and I'm constantly shocked at how many national media outlets get that wrong).

Miss America: historic, non profit: talent and community service based, the largest provider of scholarships to women in the world

Miss USA: Donald Trump-run for-profit beauty pageant.

But back to my original topic: The 91'st Miss America will be crowned in Las Vegas this Saturday night on ABC. Our Miss Virginia, Elizabeth Crot, is one of the most phenomenal women I know. She competed 5 times before winning the pageant, proving that perseverance gets the gold. She says one of her "bucket list" goals is to sing on Broadway in front of a full philharmonic orchestra... and when you hear her voice, you better believe she can.

She has one of the most beautiful opera voices I have ever heard. She also has a pure heart and a genuine attitude. Elizabeth is not fake, she's down-to-earth, hilarious, determined, and an inspiration. She is the type of woman I want my daughters to look up to whenever I have them... and they type of woman I think you should hope your daughters look to as a role model.  Vote for Elizabeth to be a People's Choice finalist!

I'd also like to highlight a couple of other contestants who have inspired me. Miss South Carolina, Bree Boyce, lost over 100 pounds the healthy way. Over the course of three years she changed her life, altered her diet and began working out after a doctor told her she was in danger of serious health issues. She went from an obese teen to the epitome of health and fitness.

I'm also in awe of Miss Washington, Brittney Henry. She grew up on welfare and now serves as an inspiration for those looking to break the cycle of poverty. Through her action plan, she teaches educators and low-income families about the resources available to make higher education possible. I highly encourage you read her full story. She is truly amazing.


I hope you will set your stereotypes aside and tune in this Saturday at 9pm on ABC to see for yourself the caliber of young women who have the honor of gracing the Miss America stage. I think you will be surprised, impressed, and will become a fan.
 
 

 

 

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