Miss America contestants dazzle viewers with their beautiful minds

Julia Kocsis, Assistant Editor

The 2018 Miss America pageant was one to remember. The spotlight of the show did not fall on the dresses, shiny hair, sequins, and dazzling smiles like usual. The interview portion of the contest was what made headlines and sparked substantial buzz.

The interview portion of Miss America consists of questions that are often ridiculously hard and in depth, with no clear answer. Contestants are expected to answer these questions completely independently in under 20 seconds. The questions tend to have themes pertaining to controversial topics such as politics and ethics.

Miss Texas, Margana Wood, has become an internet sensation thanks to her strong answer to an interview question about President Donald Trump’s noncommittal response to the deadly rally in Charlottesville. His response claimed that there was “blame on both sides” and that “not all of those people were white supremacists.”

In contrast, Wood referred to the rally as a “white supremacist issue” and a “terrorist attack.” She also shamed Trump for waiting so long to make a statement. She was able to answer the question and accurately characterize the situation in a 15 second, high pressure live interview.

Another contestant who made waves was the winner, Miss North Dakota, Cara Mund. When asked about Trump’s decision to pull out of the climate change agreement referred to as the Paris Accord, she said “We need to be at that table, and I think it’s just a bad decision on behalf of the United States.” She was not vague at all. She had the courage to directly disagree with the President’s decision.

The answers of Wood and Mund shocked and impressed the nation. Viewers of the pageant seemed surprised that these women delivered equal parts intelligence and beauty. For some reason people were amazed that they follow the news and are able to speak effectively with strong opinions.

The sad truth is that viewers do not usually expect contestants to answer these spontaneous questions quickly and intelligently. Assumptions are made based on the appearance of these women and the stereotype the goes along with beauty pageant contestants. People are not necessarily used to seeing attractive, young women in empowered positions. The number of people shocked by Wood and Munds’ answers prove how far we are from gender equality.

The pageant has been long seen as a frivolous, pointless display of women parading around a stage for the enjoyment of its viewers. When people watch the Miss America Pageant, they do not expect to see young women making powerful political statements. They do not expect to see beautiful women who are also incredibly clever, so when they do, it breaks national news.  

All of the fuss over Wood and Mund’s responses show that society is ignorant to the truth that women can be a multitude of remarkable things; not just beautiful.