I judged a girl (and I liked it)Written by Heather Miller | | firstname.lastname@example.org
I judged a beauty pageant. Excuse me; I mean scholarship pageant. Now, before all these preconceived notions start flying, hear me out.
I was asked to judge the Nov. 8 Miss Northwest Ohio pageant in Defiance. I’m not really sure what qualified me to judge wannabe beauty queens on poise and stage presence, but after a very nice e-mail from the pageant committee, I accepted the challenge.
I have not-so-secretly disliked the idea of pageants for years. Most of my female friends and relatives agree. Call us catty, but the claws really come out when Miss America hits the TV. It seems women just love ripping each other to shreds, especially when a particularly pretty one is in her bikini on national television. I, however, pushed my bitterness aside (I will never be 5-foot-7 and look great in a two-piece) and proceeded to rank nine young ladies from one to 10 in the categories of interview, swimsuit, talent and evening gown. And, I have to say, it wasn’t awful. In fact, it was an extremely pleasurable experience. I would even be willing to do it again.
Let me explain. No, I have not been brainwashed by the “pretty people.” In fact, I’ve come to realize that with the right hair, makeup and push-up bra, just about any woman could be a beauty queen. Don’t get me wrong; these nine young women, a few just 17 years old, had more polish and grace than many working in my field today. Plus, they had enough guts to get up there on that stage! I don’t ever want to strike a pose in a school gym in my favorite swimwear, so they get major kudos from me based on that alone. Not to mention the multiple times they strutted across the stage in stilettos with all eyes glued to them, scrutinizing their every move.
The interview portion was done prior to the show. Do you know how you would handle entering a room with six “judges” blasting you with questions on any subject they deemed fit, even if it had absolutely no relevance to your platform, the pageant or the world in general? Speaking of platforms, these girls didn’t just settle for the “I want to end hunger and strive for world peace” shtick. One contestant took it upon herself to educate us on juvenile diabetes. She knew her stuff! It was hard to believe she was in high school and not in an ER.
As for the scholarship part of the “scholarship” pageant, I found that to be true, too. Each of the nine participants walked away with some sort of monetary award. All of the money comes from donations and sponsorships, and I’m sure they are not very easy to get.
And don’t even get me started on Miss Ohio. Yes, the one who will compete against contestants from the other 49 states and Puerto Rico in January. She was the host of the Miss Northwest Ohio pageant. She is so nice … and smart, and pretty and talented. I even had dinner with her! (Do I sound like a giddy school girl yet?) Yes, Miss Ohio, Karissa Martin, is quite impressive. She is as eloquent as she is beautiful, with a brain to match. And can she ever sing. She belted the “Star Spangled Banner” like she was kicking off the Super Bowl. I swear our state has never been represented so well.
It’s true; as much as it pains me to admit it, there is much more to pageants than hairspray and sequins. My preconceived notions of pretty girls who rely on their looks parading across the stage are gone.
Maybe my previous thoughts were simply rooted in jealousy. After all, every girl secretly dreams of wearing a tiara and being “queen” of something, even if it is Northwest Ohio.
By the way, congratulations to Miss Northwest Ohio 2009, Heather Waterman. I know you’ll do great at state!
Heather Miller is a reporter at FOXToledo. E-mail her at email@example.com.