In my senior year of high school, I had the opportunity to participate in the annual Miss Mustang Scholarship Competition. This was - by all standards - a beauty pageant for senior girls. And I promise you, I'm being nice here when I say that this pageant was by far the biggest parade of bullshit that I've ever seen. If I were to win, it would have meant having more money for college. But - as I thought about applying - I realized that I could not in good conscience put myself through that.
If I wanted to be a part of this competition, first my name would be put on a list. That list would be sent out to all of the seniors and - if they voted for me - I would be allowed to compete. Then I would have to sell a certain amount of money in t-shirts, put money into a fundraising basket, and sell tickets to a mixer that I wouldn't even be allowed to go to. Then, I'd have to carry around a collection box and essentially sell myself to my classmates in an effort to raise even more money. For the actual pageant I would have to stay after school to get my hair and makeup done, prep myself for an interview that would be based off an essay I had to write, learn a dance, buy outfits for formal and casual wear, and prepare for a question round. And - of course - I'd have to remain innocuously perky and pleasant throughout, because personality is what's most important. Our school had a Mr. Mustang Competition for senior boys too. Want to know what they had to do to compete? Sign up.
Now, this isn't me trying to crusade against the entire pageant scene. Some girls live for pageants. That's their choice and I have no right to judge them for it. But when I think about the pageant at my high school, it just doesn't make much sense to me. One of my closest friends competed in this and - from what she told me - I don't really understand how it could've been fun. Girls had to put out buckets of money for the oh-so-slim chance of winning scholarships, and if you lost you were essentially screwed. The ends just don't justify the means.
I always found the logic behind this competition to be a little skewed. First of all, it was called a Scholarship Competition, not a Beauty Pageant. I made the mistake of calling it that a few times in high school myself. But, please, don't give me the bullshit line that it's not a beauty pageant if you have to buy four different outfits for it. Believe me when I say that - for the winner - the money was good. And Lord knows I could've used it. But I just don't see the need to parade myself around on stage and have people that I barely know judge me for it. If I wanted to do that I could just walk out of my house, and it would sure as hell save me a ton of money on clothes.
The concept of beauty pageants as a whole is something that I've always struggled to understand. Please, I implore you to tell me how you can judge someone else's character from a 50 foot walk in a sparkly dress. If character really mattered, the women competing in Miss America wouldn't look like models. If character really mattered, we wouldn't be putting five year olds on stage in big wigs and bikinis and making a TV show about it. Again - for some women - this is a confidence boost, and I can't blame them for wanting to feel good about themselves. Just don't lie and say that personality is what's being judged. I guess you could say that some strides are being made to fix that, but we still have a pretty long way to go.
When I was talking to my friend about Miss Mustang, I was pleasantly surprised when she told me that she had to do an interview before the competition. I thought to myself, wow, they're actually going to take time out to get to know the contestants outside of the blatant superficiality of the competition itself. But that joy was incredibly short-lived, because my friend continued to tell me that her interview was only set to last about five minutes. What important things can you possibly learn about a person in five minutes? Everyone lies to make themselves look good. If you're trying to get a job, you want to look like the best possible version of yourself. Well if I was trying to win that pageant and get scholarships for college, in no way would I be honest. As long as the interviews last five minutes and the contestants only have 30 seconds to answer a question, beauty is still being held as a priority in these pageants. It's like saying, "Hey, she's pretty and smart," not the other way around. And we all know what should matter more.
My friend told me that one of the questions she had to prepare for in the competition was talking about why she thought Miss Mustang was a family. But I don't see why family and unity was being preached in a competition where, essentially, the prettiest girl wins. I could've won more scholarships if I chose to compete in this pageant. But I just thought it would be a better idea for me to win my scholarships based off of assets that I know I have. I didn't want to put out all that money and hope that people liked me enough to win.
For me, the Miss Mustang Scholarship Competition was a perfect example of how flawed America's pageant system really is. Again, I'm not trying to sit here and judge women on the pageant scene. But to me, there's no logic behind it. With all the progress that has been made for women today, we still teach women and girls that - the prettier you are - the farther you'll get in life. And as long as pageants have swimsuit events, no amount of convincing will get me to believe that personality matters.