In February 2016, this Georgia girl won the title of Miss Boston 2016 with the Miss America Organization. (Boston, where I am about to graduate from school!)
The MAO is the nation’s largest provider of scholarships for young women, and I proceeded with a year of public speaking, interview training, and community service focused on my social change platform, “Creating a Culture of Compassion Surrounding Sexual Assault.”
I gave a guest lecture at Harvard on pageants, anthropology, and feminism. I interviewed for news publications and local school morning shows. I met some of the most generous, intelligent, driven people I have ever come across. I performed a silly, silly monologue from “Waiting for Guffman” on the Miss Massachusetts state competition stage. I headed the St. Patrick’s Day Southie Parade in Boston. I perfected my stage strut. I wore beautiful gowns. I volunteered at Planned Parenthood for months, and participated in sexual health education programs like Darkness2Light and Bedsider. I learned about local and federal policy. And I got REALLY good at doing my own makeup 😉
Who knows if I will ever return to pageants again. I have so many questions about gender and pretty privilege that I am still processing from that year. What I DO know is, this experience was absolutely formative for me. The Miss America Organization taught me: I can be articulate, politically informed, community service oriented, talented and physically comedic, AND beautiful. In a world where femme-identifying people are told we can’t ever have it all, I think this is pretty damn revolutionary.