There are two hot topics this week that I can't seem to escape, Trump (as usual) and the Miss USA 2017 on stage questions. Although I typically shy away from heavy political topics on my blog, I certainly don't mind chiming in on the often misconceived topic of pageantry. I bet by now you've at least been introduced to the controversial answers Miss USA 2017, Kára McCullough, gave during her on-stage questions. Whether you agree or disagree with Kára, her answers were relatable, honest, and strong. Three characteristics that make a winner. And if you know me personally, you're also aware that I've grown a minor (or major) fascination with pageantry over the past year.
I'd like to call myself a late bloomer. I competed in my first pageant at the ripe age of 23 in Maine with the Miss Universe Organization. But I've always been a secret beauty queen. By the age of 8, I was accumulating lip glosses by the dozens. It became a serious collection. However, 8-year-old Yasmine was shy, insecure and extremely introverted. I become the woman I am today during college, after being acquainted with the beautiful city of D.C. for 5 years. A small plug, if you've never been, go! It's amazing.
Anyway, for those of you unfamiliar with pageant systems, the two most popular organizations are Miss Universe (the beauty pageant) and Miss America (the scholarship pageant). I love them both.I entered my first pageant not quite sure what I was signing myself up for, but I was new to Maine and needed human interaction, preferably with women who loved makeup as much as me.
With an open mind and zero experience, it's safe to say I had a great time and placed 2nd runner-up. Of course, there were some rotten apples with bad intentions and not so great attitudes. But for the most part, the girls were pleasant and I made great friendships because of it. You see, pageantry isn't just about showing up and looking good. It's about rapport, networking, and friendships as well. It truly is a sisterhood; for girls and young women who get a kick out of beautiful gowns, a solid contour, making a difference and empowering women. There's something truly remarkable about being able to empower the woman next to you, who wants the same exact thing. Pageantry certainly isn't about finding yourself and it's definitely not about a crown. Quite honestly, I could do without the tangibles (i.e. the crown and sash). However, that's a different conversation for a different day. It is solely about being a community role model and empowering the women and youth around you to one day follow your lead. Now, don't get me wrong. At the end of the day, the process of becoming that role model is a competition.
Competition is healthy. Competition is good. Let's say it again. Competition is healthy. Competition is good.
Just like Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie said, competition for jobs rather than for the attention of men is a great thing. The variable (that changes the competitive environment from good to bad) is how the girl handles the stress and pressure to perform well. I know what you're thinking, what's so hard about wearing a gown and bikini in front of millions of people; and answering an unprepared controversial question live on national T.V.?
I'll let that sit.
Regardless, of how you feel about the answer, the truth is, behind every woman that graces that stage there's a story, resilience, and tremendous guts. So cheers to the Miss Universe Organization for starting an important dialogue.