Friday, August 12, 2005

Crown me crazy

It's been a few years since I competed in, judged, or directed a beauty pageant, but I get no less giddy when one comes on TV. Needless to say, I was over-the-moon when not one, but TWO pageants -- Miss Teen USA and a new, plus-size pageant, Mo'nique's Fat Chance -- aired this past Monday, August 8th, 2005.

Miss Teen USA

    This year, like every year, the Miss Teen USA pageant boasted 51 of the most beautiful girls from across the nation. The girls, between the ages of 15 and 18 years old, were introduced alphabetically by the name of the state each was representing (plus the District of Columbia) and then quickly narrowed down to the top 15.

    The top 15 delegates, in the order that they were announced: California, Virginia, Maryland, Ohio, Illinois, New Mexico, West Virginia, Minnesota, New York, Kansas, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Michigan, Alaska, and Georgia.

    The first actual competition was the evening wear competition; my favorite gown was the white tier gown with brown satin sash (tied into a bow around the waist) worn by the delegate from Kentucky. My picks at that point of the competition: 1) Kentucky, 2) West Virginia, 3) Kansas, 4) Oklahoma and 5) Ohio. The judges must have agreed with me, because when they narrowed the field down to the top 10 delegates following the evening gown segment, four of my five choices were in there.

    The top 10 semi-finalists, in order of how they were announced: Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, Kansas, California, Georgia, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Michigan, and Illinois.

    Kudos to the pageant committee for keeping the cheesy performances to a minimum. Aaron Carter, little brother to Nick Carter from the Backstreet Boys, and Kimberley Locke from American Idol both sung one short song each while the contestants changed in-between segments. In past Miss Teen USA pageants, as with most other televised pageants, the D-list "entertainers" invited to perform at the event seemed to drag on forever. Luckily, this year that all changed, so viewers such as myself didn't get bored and change the channel.

    After Aaron Carter and a commercial break, the Miss Teen USA delegates re-emerged for the swimsuit competition. All the girls looked great, but some stood out from the rest by "playing it up" to the crowd and to the judges with their sparkling personalities, attitude, and great modeling.

    Before the field was narrowed down again, this time to the top 5, two smaller awards were handed out: Miss Photogenic and Miss Congeniality. Miss Photogenic, which was chosen by the public by voting on the official Miss Teen USA website, was awarded to the delegate from Kansas; Miss Congeniality, which was chosen by the contestants themselves, was awarded to the representative from Missouri.

    Then, the top 5 were announced: Illinois, California, Ohio, Michigan and West Virginia. After a brief interview with each of the top 5 remaining contestants, it was time for the Final Question. The question each delegate would answer for this segment was written ahead of time by each of the 51 original contestants (one question per girl) and put into a black velvet bag. The top 5 finalists then (blindly) drew a question from the bag and gave it to the host to be read out loud. Here were the questions:

  • Question for Illinois: Why do you think they say the high school years are the best years of your life?

  • Question for California: Do you think (your) generation is growing up too fast?

  • Question for Ohio: How do we get younger students to want a better education for themselves?

  • Question for Michigan: If you could be anybody for one day, who would you be and why?

  • Question for West Virginia: What do you spend the majority of your time thinking about?

  • The most difficult aspect of judging the Final Question answers is that it is all very subjective; I almost never agree with the (other) judges as to who answered the question best and why. This time I was just a viewer, but I have been a pageant judge in the past.

    In this case, I thought Illinois was the best; she answered her question thoroughly and articulately, outlining and explaining her reasons. California faired well in the beginning, but when she realize she still had time left (each girl had 30 seconds to answer the question, then a buzz would sound) she started to try to "fill in" the rest of time with what turned out to be (what I consider to be) useless babble. Ohio was slightly off her question; she talked about how she felt education was important, but the question was HOW do we get younger students TO WANT a better education for themselves. Michigan and West Virginia both had short, 5 second answers: Michigan said (even if she could be anybody for one day) "(She) would only want to be (herself)" and West Virginia said (what she spends the majority of the time thinking about is) "What (I am) going to do next." My choices were as follows: 1) Illinois, 2)California, 3) Ohio, 4) Michigan and West Virginia (tie).

    As I stated before, though, judging Final Question answers is completely subjective. Here was the official result: 4th Runner-Up: California, 3rd Runner-Up: Illinois, 2nd Runner-Up: West Virginia, 1st Runner-UP: Michigan, and the new Miss Teen USA: OHIO!!!

Monique's Fat Chance

    This was advertised as a "plus size beauty pageant" but was, in fact, more of a reality show. The concept was a noble one: Take "average" women -- many with self-esteem issues -- and transform them into beauty queens.

    The show followed the ten selected semi-finalists as they trained for the "pageant" by learning how to model, getting makeovers, learning to feel good about themselves...and some other stuff (I got bored and lost interest). There were a couple of problems, though, as I saw it: First, the show was boring. Even the potentially intriguing segments, like the women learning to pole dance, fell flat because the contestants really didn't have much personality. Second, most of the women were ugly; even the "final products" that appeared in the pageant were average looking, at best. The lowlight: a 44 year-old contestant who was as bald as celebrity guest judge Shaquille O'Neil -- and yes, she competed in the pageant that way as well. Ew. And their clothes -- even their competition clothes -- were hideous looking! I can't imagine where they dug those things up from.

    The biggest problem, though, was the fact that it did NOTHING to improve the image of plus size women. Any "big" girl who tuned in to the show in hopes of seeing a beautiful, full-figured woman to look up to had to be sorely disappointed. If anything, Mo'nique's Fat Chance only substantiated the opinions of mass-media and society in general that fat people don't care about how they look!

    I'm sticking to the REAL pageants!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Speaking of self esteem...sounds like YOU need some. You sit in front of your computer for endless hours writing these absurd entries for the purpose of TRYING to sound like an upper class wordly "diva". Diva's don't sit in front of their computers writing, w/ typos, absolute non sense that only a shallow, insecure, no life havin' person would enjoy. You're foolin' yourself honey but that's about it. If you want to be a diva get a life that someone might actually admire.

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