Monday, November 27, 2006

Miss America?

So this was my daughter, Tara, at age 12 or so. As you can see, she used to be a little girl with chopped off overalls and hair that…well…okay, usually her hair didn’t stick straight out of her head like this. But the point is, several years have passed since she used to enjoy mud fights with her brothers and now she’s a senior in high school. Which means she’ll be leaving soon and my life will end. But that’s another blog. For now let me just say that she’s an amazing student and we’ve been looking at colleges. It was during a visit to a nearby university that we discovered private institutions are ridiculously expensive (surprise!). On our way home a few hours later, while we were moping about the cost of higher education, Tara mentioned that Miss America awards 45 million dollars in scholarships per year.

After squealing to a halt in front of the nearest shopping mall, we panted into the evening wear department and demanded a gown fit for…well…Miss America.

Sometime later we realized that the powers that be probably aren’t just going to hand over the 45 mill. Apparently it’s trickier than that. It seems that contestants are expected to begin at a somewhat lower level--like Miss Nowheresville (which, luckily, is where we live). But my little pigtailed daughter has decided to give it a try. Which didn’t really surprise me since Tara has always been up for a challenge.

It’s the reaction of other people that has been really fascinating. While some, like myself, think this will be just a fun little experience where she can dress like a princess and saw out Fur Elise on her violin, others act as if we’re about to sell her soul to Satan. Thus far I haven’t gotten a single glimpse of our horned nemesis, but maybe he makes an appearance later on…during the swimsuit competition or something. Anyway, I’ll let you, but I’m curious…what do you all think? Is this my dumbest idea ever--which, granted would be pretty dumb? Are pageants an antiquated idea whose time has long since passed or do they possess a bit of merit? Any wisdom would be much appreciated.


Helen Brenna said...

Surprisingly, I have no opinion on this subject. Amazing, isn't it?

Okay, okay. I can conjure something up.

As long as the work/time involved seems to be netting a positive benefit for Tara, why not?

Michele said...

Lois's daughter is so keen and smart that the whole pagaent atmosphere (horns and all) I believe will deflect right off her gorgeous soul. She will blow all those false, primped, catty contestants away!

Go, Tara!


lois greiman said...

Thanks Michele. We'll see what happens. I know Michelle B said being Miss Penn. put her through college, so there are definite possibilities. But maybe it's mostly possible that we'll get really sick of skinny megalomaniacs. :)

Debra Dixon said...


I'm not much on pageants for *young* girls. Too much emphasis on the package and not the internal components of a person. I was once on a plane with two pageant moms and their two little girls. It was appalling. the girls weren't more than five and they still had make-up on after the pageant. All their mom's talked about was competition strategy. And how they were going to get the money to keep their girls on the "circuit."

Apparently there is a lot more to this than simply putting on a pretty dress and a bathing suit. Tara is likely to face some seriously seasoned competitors! But she probably knows that and might have the advantage of being the fresh new beauty/talent on the scene.

If you have an "almost adult" who thinks she can pick up scholarship money by putting on an evening gown and wearing a bathing suit in public, then why not?

Beauty is a fact of life. Tall men make more money that short men, etc.

Betina Krahn said...

This would probably be the time to reveal my own secret attempts at beauty pagent fame. . . if I actually had any.

I grew up on Miss America and Miss Universe pagents. Loved to watch them and aspired to be a long-stemmed American beauty someday. Well, I never got the long stems (ahem) and I never got to fulfill my fantasy of wearing a skimpy bathing suit in front of millions of people and having them sigh with appreciation.

But Lois, if Tara wants to give it a go-- have at it! These days there are lots of alternatives for making school money. . . some of which, like joining the National Guard, have young people risking life and limb. By comparison, this looks like a pretty safe alternative. You know your daughter. . . so, if she wants it, I say go for it!

Tara's a lovely young woman and she has a sensible, savvy mom and dad to guide her through whatever craziness she may encounter. So what if she only makes it to the "Miss Nowheresville" level? They probably have some scholarship $$ even in Nowheresville. Plus-- it'll be an experience and will probably test her mettle in ways she doesn't expect. It'll be a real growth experience.

And if she should make it to the state level or beyond-- hey, look at the places Miss Pennsylvania and Miss Oklahoma and Miss Texas have gone. Lisa Kleypas was a Miss Something and turned it into a great first book contract. Gretchen Carlson is now on Fox News. It's a credential and an "entre" for a lot of gals in a lot of places.

Yeah, there will be some resistance about the process. . . from some interesting places, too. But that will require Tara to make up her mind about her priorities and goals and to learn to stick to them. In the end, she'll be stronger for it.

Good Luck, Lois and Tara! Keep us posted!

:) Betina

Kathleen Eagle said...

Besides Lisa K and Michelle B, I had one other good friend who was into pagentry. One of my former students (her mom was our child care provider) was Miss Bismarck. (Not quite Nowheresville.) She was in college at the time and working part time at a bank, which sponsored her. We got to attend the Miss ND pageant. Debbie was 1st runner-up. She should have won, of course. Very pretty girl, very smart, sang for her talent. Now, this was a while back, but I don't think the experience hurt her any.

Oh, and I was actually a judge for the national Miss Indian America pageant in the mid-80's. It was fun. Met lots of interesting people. No swimsuit competition in that one, but the judges' interviews were a big deal.

I say, go Tara! Have some fun, and if you can get that scholarship, man, that's great. There are all kinds of other competitions, too. (I was a national winner in the National Council of Teachers of English competition, which helped me get into Mount Holyoke. They were still running it when I was teaching--don't know about now. It's mostly about--surprise--writing. Back in the day, high schools get to pick a number of competitors, depending on the size of the school.)

lois greiman said...

Wow, we're surrounded by pagentry. As for me, I never had such aspirations. Back home in ND my job was to inseminate cattle. Spent most of my time barefoot in the cattle yards. Didn't wear makeup until I started showing horses professionally, post highschool. And Tara's got some of that farm girl stuff in her too...hasn't pierced her ears and doesn't plan to do so...just to be different maybe. Last summer we had a knock down drag out family mudfight at the local dog parks. The dogs just sat and watched. I'm not sure how any of this relates to pagents. Possibly not well. But Tara's been competing at the national level at equestrian events for a lot of years and takes it pretty much in stride. I don't expect this to be much different. Anyway, we're so ridiculously proud of her it actually physically hurts, so none of it matters. Her dad is pretty sure she walks on water. When we're away from home for a few days and we discuss her, Scott will actually get tears in his eyes. Yikes. Can you even imagine being so adored? I think my own father knew I existed, but only if I didn't get the chores done. :)

Helen Brenna said...

Hey, I just remembered - Our own Tina (memeber of MFW) has a daughter who's Miss Maple Grove, or something. Really getting into it!

Candace said...

Some years after I grew up and left home my mom was involved in the Miss Santa Cruz contest (winner went on to compete for Miss California)for a couple of years. Yes, competition was fierce and there were some head cases, but most of the girls were level-headed, confident, poised young women who were very intentionally using the pagent as a stepping stone to fame and/or fortune. Tara sounds like that kind of gal.

anne frasier said...

my daughter went through the same thought process when she started looking into colleges. i can't remember if she dug any deeper into beauty pageants. i think she did. it might be what led her to putting together a portfolio and getting signed to a minneapolis modeling agency. but they told her she had to make a choice: modeling or school. she chose school. i realize we're talking about two different things. i was just following the trail in my head. :D