Are Pageants Sexist or Empowering? An Inside Look at the Life of Miss Congeniality


Meghan Reyes, Features Editor

  Every little girl has dreamed of being a princess at some point. Whether they are having a royal tea party or governing a foreign country, the pretty dresses and glitter appeal to younger girls. Many regular girls never get the opportunity to wear a tiara and rule a kingdom, but they have another option. Pageant systems such as Miss USA and Miss America offer a plethora of ways women can help their community while earning scholarships and titles.

   Pageants have been seen as a controversial topic because many believe that they are sexist. In fact, two out of six students at Newsome believe that pageants are sexist and counterintuitive. 

   “I decided to do pageants because it seemed fun,” Fallon Lanteigne, a junior at Newsome high school, says, “When you show livestock, it’s also pretty common for you to also do the local pageants.”

   Lanteigne competed in the 87th annual Florida Strawberry Queen pageant on January 22nd. 

 Many women have become intimidated by pageants because of society’s high beauty standards. It is common for most women today to have self-esteem issues and confidence deficiencies because of women in the media. Four out of six students think about the Miss USA pageant when they think about pageants. Specifically, the swimsuit portion stands out. 

   “We have a 7-minute interview early in the morning with the judges,” Lanteigne says, “Then typically a group dance with all of the girls and then a speech about our sponsor.”

   When many people think about pageantry as a whole, they think about the lavish evening gowns and “pageant fails” videos on youtube. In reality, however, pageants have many more components than looks. From Miss USA to National American Miss, every pageant system has a private interview portion where each contestant will spend 7 – 10 minutes with the judges. Next, the judges calculate scores depending on how well-spoken and eloquent a contestant sounds. Then, the top 5 contestants will be asked an onstage question that will vary depending on the pageant system.

   “Should I win, I will be the 87th Florida Strawberry Festival Queen and win over $2,000 in scholarships,” Lanteigne says, “I’ll be a year-round representative for the festival and attend every festival event.”

   Titleholders at the local, state and national levels for every pageant system not only win a crown and the opportunity to represent their community, but they also have the chance to win scholarships they can use to pay for college. They also have the opportunity to advertise participation in future pageants and advocate for causes near to them. Every titleholder has been able to make her reign as personal to her as it can be. Pageants offer a rare opportunity for women to demonstrate their individuality to the world around them. 

   Many current and former titleholders in the Miss America system have said their favorite part of their experience was the sisterhood and bonds formed. Sydney Park, Miss America New York and 3rd runner up in Miss America, expresses that everyone is there for the same reason. It is not a competition for the crown; it is an experience you get to share with friends. 

   Although controversial, pageants have been proven to help many young women and girls gain confidence in themselves and the world around them. 

Miss America NY