Times are changing and the pageant and fashion industry are no exception. Last night, millions watched as Army Reserve officer, Deshauna Barber, was crowned Miss USA. The night was filled with many surprises and controversies that proved that pageantry has changed forever.
The night began with the lovely top 15 being announced. I was surprised when not only my top 15 predictions, but also the top predictions of many pageant professionals, fell short. The top 15 consisted of many ladies that were very deserving of the crown, however, they were from states that often don't find themselves placed in the top 15. The top 15 included: South Carolina, Ohio, Georgia, Arizona, Alabama, West Virginia, District of Columbia, California, Missouri, Connecticut, Hawaii, South Dakota, Arkansas, Virginia, Oklahoma.
These amazing 15 women competed in swimsuit and challenged the stereotypical pageant body. The stage was filled with all different body types and each woman was confident in their own skin. It was not about who was the skinniest, rather who was the most toned and fit. This portion of competition has evolved from a time when judges were looking for a skinny, model-type of body. Now judges are looking at how fit a contestant is and how confident they are.
The top 10 contestants each had the opportunity to grace the stage in their favorite evening gowns. It was wonderful to see so many women with different backgrounds, talents, and jobs prove that Miss USA is a leader not only in pageantry, but also in the workforce and among their peers.The top 10 consisted of the following contestants.
Miss Virginia, Desi Williams: Faculty member at Hampton University.
Miss California, Nadia Mejia: Model and daughter of “Rico Suave” star Gerardo Mejia.
Miss Georgia, Emanii Davis: Student at Valdosta State University.
Miss Alabama, Peyton Brown: Student at University of Alabama.
Miss Connecticut, Tiffany Teixeira: A registered nurse.
Miss District of Columbia, Deshauna Barber: Member of the United States Army.
Miss Missouri, Sydnee Stottlemyre:Student at University of Missouri-Columbia and future law school student.
Miss Arkansas, Abby Floyd: Fierce competitor in the horse show industry.
Miss South Dakota, Madison McKeown: Model who donates earnings to children in Kenya.
Miss Hawaii, Chelsea Hardon: Played NCAA division 1 volleyball at California Polytechnic State University.
The top 10 was narrowed down to a top five, who were expected to answer an unknown question from the panel of judges. The questions this year are a point of critique as many felt as though the questions were not fair. While the contestants generally did a good job of giving safe and acceptable answers, there is controversy surrounding a few of the questions given.
Miss District of Columbia was given a question about the United States Army, which seemed ironic since she is indeed in the military and was using that as her platform throughout the competition. Many believe that her receiving this question was too good to be true, I personally believe we can’t take away from the fact that she is a tremendous speaker and answered the question remarkably.
Miss California, a fan favorite, was given a question about bridging the gap between rich and poor. Although the question was difficult, especially considering the fact that it must be answered in under a minute, she stumbled and was unable to give an answer that would be able to land her in the top three.
The most difficult question of the night was given to Miss Hawaii, who was asked if she is voting for Trump or Hillary Clinton. Although this is a question that I am sure the contestants all prepared for, we all cringed as it was asked. Miss Hawaii sidestepped the question well enough to earn herself a spot in the top three.
The top three participated in a final look and after each answered a question about what confidently beautiful means to them, the outcome of the competition seemed obvious. Although each girl gave a good answer, Miss District of Columbia stood out with her spin on confidently beautiful as pertaining to her background in the military. At the end of the night, Miss Georgia received second runner up, Miss Hawaii, first runner up, and Miss District of Columbia walked away with the title of Miss USA.
This pageant was remarkable for various reasons, and it is evident that the world of pageantry is quickly changing. Pageant titleholders are confident, strong, career driven women, who are role models in our society. In addition, the women who ended up standing on stage at the end of the night were extremely diverse. Miss USA is living proof that pageants are changing and there is more emphasis than ever on being confidently beautiful.