Why We Love It:No Crown Required is a powerful reflection on raising strong, independent women. We’re proud to feature empowering titles and are excited to help change the conversation surrounding beauty standards, pageantry, and young women with this book. Given the debate surrounding the Miss America pageant as a whole—particularly the removal of the swimsuit contest and the latest remarks by the current Miss America—we asked former Miss Ohio, Susan Kay Wyatt, for her take. Below are her thoughts on the current state of pageants, how they have changed since her time as a contestant, and how having a daughter has changed her perspective.
No Crown RequiredBy Susan Kay Wyatt The Miss America pageant is going through growing pains…again. Although the organization is no longer affiliated with some of the more unfit people, there is a new wave of mean girls who have taken over. The pageant is even fighting about whether or not the swimsuit and evening gown events should be taken out, and there’s also talk of removing the runway altogether—just in time for this month’s national competition in Atlantic City. What has manifested on the “outer” is a reflection of the “inner” (i.e., what is going on inside). This is true both in our lives and with the pageant. In this case, it’s a reflection of the evolution of women in America and the world. Women are done being held to an unrealistic standard of beauty that is perpetuated by a male-dominated world. It creates division amongst us–comparison and competition that men do not face. It keeps us from the equality that should be the norm and facilitates bullying among women. While men run around in their power suits, women face a power struggle with each other. Pageants put that front and center, which is why many people feel they have become irrelevant. In fact, most women find pageants offensive. My seventeen-year-old daughter is one of them. As a former Miss Ohio, I went back to judge that state’s pageant this year in honor of my thirtieth anniversary of being crowned to compete in Atlantic City. They still had the swimsuit competition in place, and I wasn’t prepared for how I would react. After interviewing these highly intelligent, personable, and talented women, I was blown away by their inner and outer beauty. So when it came time to judge them in bikinis, I felt awkward. I am not a prude and can still rock a bikini myself because of my fitness-centered lifestyle. But my only thought at that moment was ugh. It’s like going to a typical job interview and having the interviewer say, “Now we need to see you in your underwear.” That is how it felt to me. Having a daughter the same age as some of the contestants was a factor too. I couldn’t imagine her up on that stage, and neither could she. After watching one night of the preliminaries, she was traumatized to say the least. She didn’t attend the final night, and I didn’t make her. “Mom! Did you really do that?” My daughter will never enter a pageant, and while training to compete changed my life for good, I get it. For me, it was a journey that challenged me to step up my game in all areas of my life. It gave me the tools to help my daughter do the same. I’m not anti-swimsuit or anti-pageant. I’m not against tiaras and crowns. It’s just that it brings front and center how women are judged in this world. It’s an uneven playing field that isn’t acceptable anymore. Change is inevitable. Beauty standards have changed over the decades that I have been on this earth, and they will continue to evolve for sure. The Mission of the Miss America Organization: Preparing great women for the world and the world for great women.
I am sure they will find a way to move forward. After all, they are dealing with women—intelligent, heart-centered women of purpose who see it as a platform or vehicle to effect change and heal what is wounded in the world We are the self-realized healers, teachers, protectors, guardians, and fighters. We are the game changers, raising new world leaders. We are the sisterhood. –No Crown RequiredI want my daughter to live a life of confidence, courage, and compassion. I want her to own all of her gifts and share them with the world. I know when I see and love her for who she is, she will too. No swimsuit. No evening gown. No runway. No Crown Required.