The job of a titleholder within the Miss America Organization (MAO) is comprised of much more than what meets the eye (yes, it’s a job). The vast majority of society sees the sparkly crown, fancy outfits, and a pretty face, but women who compete in the program are women of substance. I’ve been confronted on numerous occasions where people have told me that I’m a much different person than what they initially expected, you know, with me being a “pageant girl” and all (insert my best attempt to refrain from rolling my eyes here). Over the course of my journey within the MAO over the past five years, I’ve come to see this comment as a perfect time to enlighten them on the values and beliefs the organization embodies. Not to mention, the work that goes into preparing for a pageant and the time, dedication, and passion that is necessary to carry out the duties associated with being a titleholder within the program.Here’s some main points I like to address (and for all those who are still a little skeptical about the Miss America Organization, I recommend you read closely):
- The women within the Miss America Organization have personal platforms they advocate for. The platform portion of the program started in 1989 when Miss America 1988, Kaye Lani Rae Rafko was determined to continue her career as a nurse during her reign, simultaneously changing the face of the MAO by advocating for health issues. Today, personal platforms vary greatly and usually are influenced by a tragedy, individual, or problem in society that the contestant had a personal tie to. Issues include but are not limited to: diabetes awareness, the importance of the arts, promoting physical fitness, domestic violence advocacy, heart health, and my unique platform, college and career readiness.
- Women wearing the crown are not only role models within the community, but public speakers, public relations specialists, event planners, communication experts, and marketing personnel. With the pervasiveness of social media in today’s society, local and state titleholders are even more so in the public eye than ten or even five years ago. They constantly strive to not only promote their personal brands online (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, blogs, YouTube, etc.), while also sharing the work they’re doing in the community. In addition, they must reach out to businesses and people in the community in order to form relationships, set up speaking engagements and volunteer opportunities in order to share their message with a broader audience. Let me tell you friends, it’s not nearly as easy as it looks!
- Scholarship is one point of the crown that represents the opportunities the program provides women to pursue higher education with financial relief. The MAO is the largest provider of scholarship money to women across the country. Yes, there’s a pageant that takes place with various phases of on-stage competition being included in the show. However, there’s also a private interview portion of competition with a panel of five judges where contestants’ personality, intelligence, and awareness on current issues are put to the test. Many women initially get involved with the program to help relieve financially burden they feel from college loans and I can attest to the fact that as someone who worked multiple part-time jobs throughout school while balancing a full credit load and struggled to make ends meet, the scholarships I’ve received alleviated a lot of stress from my life. Let’s face it, college is expensive and it’s not getting any cheaper. The Miss America Organization is an outlet for growth that truly helps women reach their full potential while chasing their aspirations.
- The organization promotes civic engagement. Volunteering within the community and giving back to people who have provided us as titleholders with so much love and support is at the forefront of titleholders’ years of service. Typically, girls will get involved with volunteer opportunities that align with their personal platforms; however, it’s not uncommon to see local titleholders at a wide variety of events in the community. After all, helping to make the community, state, and country a better place is one of the central focuses of the MAO.
- The sparkly crown that sits upon a titleholder’s head is small, but mighty. In my platform presentation in schools I talk about the importance of community outreach and I can honestly say that much of what I’ve learned has stemmed from the Miss America Organization’s influence. The crown teaches titleholders and those who we get the pleasure of meeting, just how crucial it is to utilize the resources in your life. Fostering new relationships, embracing role model positions, and establishing connections with individuals and businesses who can help you along the path towards your intended pageant and/or career goals is a main facet of this organization (and a very important one at that).
- Being a titleholder teaches women the importance behind proper planning, prioritization, and the importance of time management. Juggling multiple appearances, volunteering opportunities, rehearsals, and other pageant engagements along with school, work, and a social life isn’t an easy task…let me tell you! Nonetheless, all of the sleepless nights, early mornings, and long days pay off in the long run. Why? Because pushing yourself to balance a multitude of engagements teaches you important skill sets that are needed in the real world and translate impeccably to success in college and the workforce. #YasQueen
- Even when the crown is off, a titleholder doesn’t get a “day off.” Serving as a local or state (and especially national titleholder) is a 24 hours, 7 days a week job. Whether the crown is on or not, you’re still a public figure and you must hold yourself accountable to the expectations set forth by not only the local, state, and national organization, but yourself as well. In addition, there’s a lot of planning and preparation that occurs behind the scenes when the crown is safely at rest and it’s those efforts that help ensure you’re ready for times when the sash and crown are on including: school visits, public speaking opportunities, events, and competitions.
- The opportunity to step into the heels of a real life princess provides women with a voice. It’s a job that allow women to stand for something greater than themselves, to allow the passions that fuel their soul to be shared with anyone and everyone around them, and a time to forever make a difference. It’s rewarding, difficult at times, but undoubtedly one of the best jobs some women will ever hold. Whether it’s stepping into duties as a Goodwill Ambassador for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals (the national platform of the Miss America Organization) raising funds for local families in need and sharing their stories or sharing your message, titleholders are more than a pretty face, but rather women of substance.
Titleholder; (noun) a local representative within the Miss America Organization who works to promote a personal platform, serve as a Goodwill Ambassador for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, market herself and her community service efforts on social media, engage in civic activities, and positively influence the lives’ of others in order to make society a better place for everyone.