Miss America Misconceptions – Why your children (and you) should know it’s more than a beauty pageant.

Pageants?!  Meh.


Miss America?   No, Thanks.  I’d rather watch Sunday night football.


They’re just a bunch of blonde-haired, blue-eyed, pretty faces that walk around in a bikini on stage.


Ya know, just a bunch of women trying to get their 15 minutes of fame.


That’s exactly what I thought 5 years ago – then I met my wife, Courtney.  She’s been a part of the Miss America Organization for the past 10 years.  She’s gone from competing in and winning Miss Pennsylvania, which took her to the 2011 Miss America pageant, to now being a board member and executive producer of the Miss Pennsylvania Organization.  She’s a lifer.


So naturally I got dragged into the mix… She needed help backstage during the production so I obliged.  Whelp, turns out I’m the best stagehand in the history of pageants.  The best microphone setter upper ever.  So they keep asking me back.


In between setting up those microphones and moving pianos, I’ve befriended some pretty awesome people.  Whether they’re volunteers, board members, judges, or production staff, they’ve welcomed me with open arms.  I’ve witnessed the weeks of time and effort all of these people put into the pageant.  I’ve also come to realize Courtney is who she is in large part because of this whole world I knew nothing about.


She and so many others develop the professionalism needed to impress a panel of judges.  They are able to speak articulately with poise on stage in front of hundreds of people and the whole country if they make it to Miss America.  Public speaking is a terrifying thing for most, but these women have it down pat.  I’ve sat backstage for the past 4 years now and the nervousness that radiates off the contestants is palpable.  But without fail they flip like a switch the moment their name is called and confidently nail their question as the spotlight beams down on them.


I’ve seen my daughters watch these women in that very spotlight.  They look up in awe -with inspiration coming to life in their eyes – as contestants speak about raising awareness for their platforms.  Children need role models when they’re young, and these women exemplify everything I would want my daughters to become – selfless, confident, and intelligent.


The queen himself.



In fact, they’re incredibly intelligent.  Every former title holder I’ve met is hands down smarter than I am.  Not sure that’s saying much, but they go on to be doctors, lawyers, executives, you name it.  And a good portion of the money to pay for all that education to become doctors and lawyers comes from these pageants.  I had no idea Miss America was a non-profit and the largest provider of scholarship assistance to young women in the country.  They’ve also raised millions of dollars for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.  The new Miss America, Cara Mund, has raised over $78,000 for the Make-a-wish Foundation, she’s an Ivy-league graduate and an aspiring law student.  If that’s not someone you want your daughter to emulate I don’t know who is.


My daughters have watched pageants we have on DVD on repeat, time and time again.  I even walked into Ry’s room the other day and she was dancing around her room, violin in hand, in preparation for when she can compete.  I can’t tell you how much joy it brings me to know that she has a role model like Miss America.  Or like the current Miss Pennsylvania, Katie Schreckengast, who crushed her saxophone talent and made top 10 this past Sunday at Miss America.  Who wouldn’t want their daughter to have those intangible qualities that she’ll carry for her lifetime?  To have confidence and grace when she walks into a room.   To have a platform that she is dedicated to and that serves people in need.  To be able to ace her first interview after she graduates from college.   And then paying for it by herself from scholarship money to boot!



I’ve experienced quite a bit in the pageant world the last five years.  Miss PA week has become like a reunion that I actually enjoy going to.  I even proposed to Courtney on stage at the Miss Pennsylvania pageant.  My experiences have undoubtedly changed my opinion of these pageants and what they represent – women who are beautiful AND intelligent.  I know that most people will never get the exposure I have, but if you’re reading this you know a little bit more now.  Hopefully that can be shared with your daughters and sons – they should know that these women are smart, talented, and kindhearted.  And that all women, including pageant contestants, have admirable qualities beyond that same first glance I gave years ago.

The women who take that stage have an undeniable presence and one day my daughters will too.

This one, on the other hand, has the presence of Oscar the grouch


14 thoughts on “Miss America Misconceptions – Why your children (and you) should know it’s more than a beauty pageant.

  1. This absolutely speaks of the feelings I have always felt about the Miss America Organization. I have been watching the Pageants since I was 5 years old. In 2003 I was selected to drive in the Miss America Parade for the first time and this year was my 7th trip down the Boardwalk. I also drive in the Miss New Jersey Parade in Ocean City, and the Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day Parade. In Miss New Jersey and Miss America I drive a local or state contestants and on Thanksgiving I drive Miss America’s Outstanding Teen. (I drove her this past Saturday in the Miss America Parade.) Through my driving duty I have been able to meet many of these beautiful, intelligent and public service minded young ladies. They are exceptional. I get to know their families, friends, business managers and volunteers and they are all great people. Don’t let anyone ever tell me Miss America is not relevant in today’s world. I see the finest qualities in America’s finest young women in these contestants. BTW, you can view photos of the parades I have been in on my car page, https://www.facebook.com/1970-Oldsmobile-Cutlass-Supreme-SX-Convertible-164972160237844/. And if Miss Pennsylvania ever needs a Parade Car be sure to let me know.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have been volunteering with the Miss Ohio stage crew for 20 years now! They are my chosen family! My 14 year old daughter is on her second year with the crew. Everyone keeps trying to convince her to compete, but she’s having too much fun BACKstage! Plus if she competes, I’ll have to quit, and she knows that would just about kill me! I can’t imagine my life without this program!


  3. Love your views. I am the parent of a contestant in the organization and I am so grateful for the experiences she has. She has made lifelong friends and has truly grown within the system. Thank you for being an amazing cheerleader for the organization and working and volunteering behind the scenes. Your wife is a lucky girl to have someone like you to embrace her passion for the organization. Maybe I will meet you one day at Miss America!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. i really enjoy reading your thoughts and not just because your my son in law…I am so grateful to this organization for the! generosity and direction they provided for our family. It looks like there is a new generation getting ready for competition!!! Love the pics too!!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Dear intrhoverted:
    Courtney and many of the other wonderful people you mention, represent the best of pageantry. Unfortunately, the Miss America org and the industry in general is widely misunderstood. However, those who do have the opportunity to experience it will be sure to
    recognize as you did the unique
    spirit of comradery and competition which defines its purpose.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you for writing this! It’s a difficult thing to feel as if you need to explain and defend your love of pageantry to non-pageant family and friends. Your words are certainly helping broaden perspectives. Not all pageants are the same and the Miss America Organization is a wonderful example of the best of pageantry! The Cinderella Scholarship Pageant was modeled after MAO. We were founded in 1976 and so many of our girls have gone on to grace the Miss America stage! I shared your blog and hope its message reaches many many more!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I truly love this Article! My 10 year old daughter just competed in her 2nd pageant last weekend. It was her first time competing in the Cinderella pageant. I could not be more grateful to this pageant for the incredible gifts it has given my oldest child. She is an incredibly intelligent and sweet young lady who is incredibly shy. To see her walk out on that stage and speak to a room full of strangers was amazing. To watch her gain more confidence with each part of the competition is a feeling there are no words to describe. She told me afterwords that she wants to be Miss America someday….and I will gladly support her dream!


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