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The Daily Tar Heel

Pageant Needs to Get With Times

The Miss America Pageant was Saturday. I know what you're thinking: It was held in the stands of Kenan Stadium during the football game. (Actually no, but if I dressed like most of the girls there, I might need to pull out one of my evening gowns to be properly attired.)

Before the pageant began, I commenced with my usual pre-pageant activities by looking at all of the contestants' pictures on the Web, and yes, pictures lie. The Miss America Pageant began on a resounding note of cheese. Watching Donny and Marie Osmond sing for five minutes is something you shouldn't do if you've eaten in the past four hours. I thought I was going to be sick.

But something brings me back each year to watch this pageant with fervor. I can think of nothing I like better than seeing a bunch of competitive women who hate each other run around Disney World holding hands and modeling evening gowns.

And whoever dressed those poor women should dispose of the disastrous patterns of fashion waste for next year, sending them back to the Sears from whence they came. Judging by the apparel these women were wearing, it looks like they were ready for the '80s dance down in Carrboro.

Just a few years ago, Miss America concerned itself with representing young women who were to be future career women, but this year the contestants looked like 16-year-olds who should be on MTV.

My favorite part was when they choose the top 10 and then asked all the girls who didn't make it how they felt. First of all, that's a cruel question. If you'd spent your entire life preparing for one day, you'd obviously be devastated. Those girls have real class. If that would've been anyone else, they probably would have smacked the host for having such poor taste. But did those women? Nope; they gave a smile that could crack glass as they forced nice comments about the other contestants.

Instead of getting up before the entire nation and pretending to be the Virgin Mary, why not take the halo off and just be yourself? It seems that the image presented this year is one of a flashy "hip millennium girl" crossed with Betty Crocker. Am I the only one who sees two contrasting images here?

As always, we have some girl who looks like she's never filed her own fingernails showing us how she milks cows on her daddy's farm. And if anything bad happened in her life, she'll recount every devastating detail. These women are as bad as presidential candidates George W. Bush and Al Gore trying to get the "sympathy vote."

I love to criticize pageants, but truthfully, I am playing devil's advocate to an extent. Yes, I see problems with pageants, but I also genuinely enjoyed the few I competed in. Pageants provide young women with a lot of positive benefits that the Miss America Pageant does not make apparent in a televised three-hour stint.

Competing in a pageant is an ultimate test of courage and confidence. No one has any right to say it's a poor representation of women until he or she knows how much work goes into competing. It's the one thing that could make you feel on top of the world and then in an instant break your heart. Pageants provide young women with a lot of skills and keep them so busy with community service platforms, talent, public speaking and fitness preparation that they don't have time to be much less of anything than a pretty good person.

Of course you don't have to be "Miss It" with a crown to make a difference. But staying within the competitive realm definitely encourages you to be a benefit to society and not a detriment like I've been lately.

The one thing the Miss America Pageant needs, however, is a dose of modern reality. What its organizers need to do is get rid of the "cheeseball twin" hosts and encourage young women to speak out on the issues and not conform to the norm.

So what should a modern-day Miss America be all about? Certainly not someone who pops RU-486 like vitamins but not a polished Hollywood image of moral and ethical perfection, either. Isn't it always better when we know someone has done something wrong once in her life?

Why? Because it makes her more real. And I can respect what's real.

So how about a more realistic Miss America? She'd be a person who cares about the world around her, a girl who likes to go out once in a while and will still be able to respect the person she sees in the mirror the next morning, a woman who's going to make something of herself in the career climb, a person who remembers where she came from and always has tomorrow in the back of her mind, and, most importantly, someone who's made a mistake once or twice in her life and is willing to admit it if it will influence someone else positively.

Now, that's what I call Miss America.

Anne Marie Teague is a senior business administration major from Lumberton.

E-mail her at

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