April 16, 2016 I participated in “Miss America Serves”. “Miss America Serves” is a day that very contestant participating in a state pageant through the Miss America Organization dedicates themselves to a service project. Like all of my Miss Idaho sisters, I participated in a food drive benefiting the Idaho Food Bank. I stood in front of Fred Meyers for hours collecting food, but that isn’t enough to escape the stereotype that comes along with wearing a crown.
Like many customers before him, a man walked into the empty and silent Fred Meyers lobby. He was on the phone so I offered him a smile and didn’t mention the apparent food drive. He proceeded to walk past me speaking loudly to whomever he was talking to saying “Miss Boise is here. She won a contest and just stood up there not thinking about anything.” Since the electrical impulses in my brain processed his words and cognitively interpreted them into meaning, I found myself relieved that I must be at least thinking SOMETHING. I then continued my fight against hunger here in Boise.
Whenever I participate in any event, I am consciously strategizing how I can improve upon the stereotype of pageant contestants. Are there some girls that are a mirror reflection of our stereotype? Unfortunately, yes. You can find hundreds of girls on Youtube giving subpar interview answers as evidence of that. But even then, what is to say that the girl answering any given question just isn’t perfect? What if she simply doesn’t know the answer to every single thing in the world? I mean really. Who can answer everything? What if she accidentally just made up a word? It could happen to anyone.
To give you an example- here is the first image that populated when I typed in “Stupid Pageant Answers”.
Here is the actual YouTube video of her interview. Start the video at 0:25.
During my time volunteering for the Idaho Food Bank as a part of “Miss America Serves”, I was bombarded with the unkindness of that man based on the stereotype pictured above. I was also lucky enough to be graced with the generosity of hundreds of strangers- one in particular.
Like hundreds of customers before them, a woman and her daughter walked into a Fred Meyers lobby. The woman’s face burst into the biggest smile. Her enthusiasm shocked me as I had received some really kind donations, but not with quite the same level of excitement. She assured me that she would go shopping and then return to donate food. When she came back, she dropped a couple cans into my cart full of donations. Then, her daughter handed me a water bottle and said something along the lines of “We brought those cans for the people that are hungry, but we bought this water bottle for you. You must be so thirsty working this hard!” In light of my encounter with the man, I was speechless. I think I honestly stood there with my mouth open. I managed to get out a thank you and they started on their way.
As they were about to walk out of the door, the mom turned around and came back to me. She said “I have to tell you something” and began to tell me a story about how a few years ago, she hated pageants. She thought they began and ended with the stereotype. That was until she got to know a pageant girl herself. I can’t remember how exactly she had gotten to know one.. But that woman changed her entire opinion. She said she had, until then, never realized how hard we work in terms of our community service, our education.. everything. She also mentioned that she thinks we deserve so much more credit than we receive. She wanted to make sure I knew that I was appreciated.
Allow me to back track a little to the picture and video I posted above. That is my best friend, Erza. If you know Erza like I do, you know that she is kindhearted, genuine, thoughtful, and incredibly smart. I can’t even tell you how many times she has turned down hanging out with me because she has had plans with her little sister from “Big Brother Big Sister”. This is a mentorship program that she has been a part of for as long as I have known her (8 years). She also got a 4.0 in high school. Her hardworking and professional nature has allowed her to quickly earn promotion after promotion for the business consulting company she works for. Meanwhile, thousands of people have over looked the remarkable qualities she possesses and instead view a video that allows them to write off all pageant contestants as girls that just stand there and “don’t think about anything”.
The woman in Fred Meyers and her story about the pageant girl she knew is another example of how everyone has the ability to make a difference. Sometimes you don’t have hours to stand in front of Fred Meyers with a food drive. Sometimes you don’t have enough money to make that donation. You know what you ALWAYS can do? Live by example. Live by knowing you are powerful. Whether you know it or not, you are a direct representation of yourself and of any organizations you associate yourself with. I am proud to represent the Miss Idaho Organization at every chance I get and would relish the opportunity to do so even more as Miss Idaho.
The best way to change a stereotype is to prove it wrong!
Brittany Lock Miss Boise 2016