Last Sunday, I was elated to be invited to attend the Miss America pageant in Atlantic City. As a little girl, I dreamt of being able to go one day and witness that one woman whose life completely changed in a matter of seconds. It’s one thing to see it on TV and watch a show, but it’s another to be there in-person and feel the energy, the tension, and the excitement.
These 52 women work super hard, in all aspects of their lives, to get to this very moment. They embody intelligence, a compassion to make others’ lives better, talent, and beauty (both inside and out). What you see on the screen at home are the celebs, the beautiful women, and a close up of all of the segments that narrow the contestants, down to the winner. What I saw in-person is entirely different.
I met entourages of friends and family who flew from all over the U.S. (oftentimes small towns), to support a contestant, whether they knew her or not. I saw pageant winners, of all ages, excited and inspired. I saw thousands of people, dressed in all sorts of attire, eager to be a part of history. And, I saw staff and volunteers, work extremely hard, on behalf of these contestants, to give the best experience possible. When you’re there, the celebs don’t matter, the stage sets don’t matter, and neither do the cameras. Given that I used to perform, it felt like a recital with a heck of a lot more people. It made me miss the stage but I digress…
But there were three standout moments that regardless of if you were watching it on TV, or in person, made a huge impact on almost everyone.
- Tribute to Military
At the very beginning of the show, they honored military widows. These selected women were given a day of pampering, followed by an on-stage tribute the evening of the pageant (they also had a 9/11 Memorial tribute concert the day before). The National Anthem brought people to tears (a small clip can be played below).
2. The Bikini Portion of the Competition
I’m not sure what the viewers at home were able to see but what we saw in person were many REAL women. Gone are the days of anorexic women from this pageant. Instead, I saw healthy, muscular women, some of whom had a bit of cellulite, walk across the stage, confident and happy. To me, it was a celebration, as well as an inspiration for girls all over the world.
3. That Monologue Everyone Is Talking About
I will admit, I was one of those that thought it was an odd choice for a talent. Miss Colorado delivered in a monotone voice that didn’t wow me. In fact, I commented to my girlfriend that she should have developed story-telling skills before she delivered it. However, in watching this over again, I see why this was applauded. Her talent is her passion – she’s a nurse. She helps people every, single day, and she’s competing to continue to deliver her platform to the world, should she be chosen as Miss America. What she did was brave and inspiring.
What Happens When The Cameras Stop Rolling
When Miss Georgia was crowned the winner, the cameras stopped rolling, and the audience was leaving the hall, all that was left were celebrations and post-event interviews. My girlfriend and I stuck around for a little bit to see it. It reminded me so much of my years of dance competitions and try outs – the public celebrations are moments of pure elation, but you have no idea what’s really going on, and it really hasn’t sunk in. You kind of go into auto pilot. But when the throngs of people dissipate, and you’re left with your fellow teammates, coaches, and family surrounding you, it’s when the real moments begin -the ones you remember for the rest of your life.
Two people I’d like to call out in this post:
- Haely Jardas (Miss DC) – We were rooting for you! It takes a lot of hard work to make it to Miss America, and we’re all so proud of you!
- Mehrnaz (Alex) Naini – One of my best girlfriends and inspirations is now the official Cosmentic Dentist to the Miss America Organization. I am so proud of her! She’s local to MD/DC/VA – so definitely visit her if you’re in the area!
For complete photographic coverage of the event (well, what I took anyway), check out the slide show below. If you want to see more video snipits, click here.