You Can Be Both
Updated: Sep 18, 2020
Earlier this week the Miss America Organization put out a press release in regards to a new scholarship being awarded. One quote from this press release became rather controversial, not letting the "bye-bye bikini" controversy go away quite yet...AND rightly so.
"In reaching out to the Miss America Organization, the donor made clear the important reason for the generous gift. As a young woman who wanted to compete in a local Miss America competition in the 1980s, she was discouraged by her parents because they believed 'Miss America does not look like us, and an educated woman does not parade around in a swimsuit,'" the news release states.
This quote strikes a nerve with me because my entire life I have fought stereotypes associated with outward appearance, instead of looking at who I actually am on the inside. This isn't just related to pageantry, this is so much bigger.
'Miss America doesn't look like us...' No, she doesn't, because she is her own person, uniquely and wonderfully made, just as everyone is. That's the beauty of it, none of us were created the same and we all shine in different ways. How utterly boring would this world be if we all looked alike? However, the women competing in Miss America or Miss USA represents each and every woman. She represents the strength, brilliance, health, kindness and passion that is in each and every one of us. She doesn't compare, she stands beside others in support.
Let's set the record straight. You can be Beautiful and you can be Brilliant! You can be anything you want to be and you don't have to fit a mold society picks for you. Isn't that wonderful!?
I have been so grateful and humbled by my experiences: Miss Wisconsin United States 2017, Miss Wisconsin USA 2019, playing collegiate basketball, modeling in major markets in the U.S., graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in 3.5 years, holding numerous jobs while in school, maintaining four internships and now being an integral part of a marketing team at a successful company and so much more - which has ultimately shaped me into the multifaceted woman I am today.
Let's just say I know some successful, beautiful, kind, healthy and brilliant women who have 'paraded around in a swimsuit' and are so courageous they have voiced their own beliefs.
hey girl, guess what?
you can be .. .
strong & vulnerable
kind & respected
humble & proud
pretty & badass
educated & sexy
never let yourself be defined in a singular way. the world needs ALL of who you are. take up the space you were given.
- Grace Zitzer,
Miss Montana USA 2019
Apparently, a quote included in a recent #MissAmerica press release said, “an educated woman does not parade around in a swimsuit.” Which is funny because I’ve paraded on two national stages, and also graduated from Fordham University with honors. By the way, I used scholarship dollars I earned from pageants to help pay for said education. Plot twist, ladies: it’s possible to look good, work hard, AND be smart. 👑
- Acacia Courtney,
Miss Connecticuit USA 2019
Actual Footage of an “educated woman parading around in a swimsuit” 👙 Unsure why in 2019 this still needs to be said, but for all who weren’t aware before: boobs, butt and brains are NOT mutually exclusive. If I had a dollar for every person who has ever told me I look “too sexy”, you need to “be more conservative”, or I need to cover up to be “taken seriously” I’d take all that money, buy a million teeny tiny bikinis and post a pic in every single one on the gram to help everyone learn to see cleavage without being offended 😘 I’m perfectly fine being a woman who can do both 👍🏼 Wear whatever the hell you want and don’t every apologize ladies. - Shelby Brown,
Miss Idaho USA 2019
“An educated woman does not parade around in a swimsuit.” #MissUSA2019fromMissAmerica2018
Well #MissAmerica I did it twice, back-to-back, and still graduated from college with honors and All-American year after year...as a D1 Collegiate Athlete. 😘
- Triana Browne,
Miss Oklahoma USA 2019
Well this is awkward 🤷🏼♀️ an educated woman is “parading” around in a swimsuit... Just a FYI you can be educated AND wear a swimsuit. I graduate from @uflorida with honors and now working on my masters at @tamu. I’m proud of my academic achievements and the confidence I’ve learned over the years of competing in pageants. I stand with my sister queens who are continuing to break barriers in every aspect of life, especially the ones who are continuously fighting the negative stigmas against pageants and beauty queens. Oh, by the way, an apology does not justify your word choice... #missusa
I just wanted to remind the world what educated women in bikinis PROUDLY parading around in a swimsuit look like! #MissUSA continues to give women the platform to be both smart and sexy and showcase that on a national level. The motto, #ConfidentlyBeautiful, encompasses the notion that women ARE ALLOWED to be whatever they want, however they want and to say they cannot be one without the other is so ill-advised and confusing for our young people. Babes listen to me — if YOU believe YOU ARE smart, beautiful, funny, witty, educated and even proud of your body... be ALL OF THAT at the same👏🏾damn👏🏾time👏🏾 You’re absolutely allowed to be💕 - Tianna Tuamoheloa, Miss Nevada USA 2019
Yes #missamerica educated women CAN and DO wear swimsuits. In fact, those swimsuits you despise so deeply have played a part in earning us college degrees, cancelling student debt, launching our careers, and helping us change the world-all while you’d rather attack women for being who they are. So you can keep your outdated views and pretentious mindset and we will show you a “parade” like you’ve never seen. You messed with the wrong sisterhood. 🔥 #teamusa
- Miriah Ludtke,
Miss Missouri USA 2019
Don’t mind me @missamerica ORG, My @missusa sisters and I are just out here showing the world that beauty and brains are no longer mutually exclusive.
Sorry if your small minded, demeaning standards are finally coming back for you. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be surrounding myself with the most beautiful AND educated women I know all while building a career around posing in a swimsuit.😘
- Courtney Lynne Smits,
Miss Virginia USA 2019
The same dedication that led to this very moment, fuels my drive and desire to obtain a double major from The University of Alabama while working TWO.. not one.. TWO jobs. The women I stood alongside of at Miss USA are some of the most brilliant people I have ever come into contact with. Ladies... it is okay to be brilliant and beautiful. I am more than proud of this moment and the fact that I was blessed with the opportunity to represent my state in such a profound way. Don’t ever let someone dull that sparkle✨
- Hannah McMurphy,
Miss Alabama USA 2019
"Educated women don't parade around in swimsuits".... While I'm a still a little heated about Miss America's new scholarship "qualifications," I guess I should thank them as well. Present and past titleholders know that this has been a dividing issue for quite some time, but now we can speak out. I'm so sick of the stigmas. Since when does feeling beautiful mean you can't kick butt in the boardroom? And why do we feel we must downplay our femininity in order to be respected? Embracing the body I have worked so hard for on national television was one of the most empowering moments I have experienced. Educated women are SMART enough to not conform to society's norms. It's about time we celebrate women who are confident in their skin and stop defining women by a single variable. We are smart, strong, sexy and everything in-between. #missusa - Abigail Merschman,
Miss South Dakota USA 2019
Hey #missamerica, thanks for the excuse to post this photo.😘 // Okay, but in all seriousness, I’ve debated posting about the quote recently released in a Miss America press release that said “educated women don’t parade around in a swimsuit.” It set me off, y’all. But now that I’ve cooled down, I have something to say. // The notion that women can’t be smart AND sexy is antiquated and, frankly, just incorrect. // Am I proud of my academic accomplishments? Yes! Am I also proud to have had the confidence to walk in a swimsuit on national television? Hell yes. // To all the little girls who have been taught that you have to be one thing or another, but never both, I dare you to enter a pageant. Because #MissUSA girls are showing the world that women can be smart AND sexy, strong AND feminine, ambitious AND humble, beautiful and compassionate and all of the above. And if that’s not empowering, then I don’t know what is.
Your Girl Next Door and So Much More,