Not Just A Crown: Miss Philadelphia 2016

20160229_inq_pmiss29-bThis past weekend I had the pleasure of serving as a judge for the Miss Philadelphia 2016 Pageant … crowning the newest Miss Philadelphia’s Outstanding Teen. 

Going in I was cool as a cucumber. But the minute these mini teen queens stepped in front of me to grill and judge them I was a hot mess. Like sweating through my leather pencil skirt hot mess. Because all I wanted to do was run up to them, hug them, creepily stroke their hair and be all, “it’s okay … you’re ALL beautiful!” 

But alas that is not what I was there to do. I was there to get my Simon Cowell on (although I’m clearly more of a Paula). 

From the women competing for Miss Philadelphia 2016 to my little Miss Outstanding Teen candidates … the one thing I couldn’t stop from thinking the entire time was, “holy shit, I could NEVER do this.” It takes balls. You are sending your vulnerability to the wind and standing up there baring your soul with a smile on your face in front of random people with fancy titles to judge you. That is some scary shit. Seriously … I was staring at all of them in sheer awe the entire night. 

Look, people like to talk shit about pageants because they unfortunately have a big ol’ stereotype behind them. Big hair. World peace. And airheads in bikinis. But I couldn’t tell you have far from the truth all of those things are. 

You need to care about something A LOT in order to perform on a stage like that … like, oh I don’t know, in a swimsuit. Really? You couldn’t get me to stand in front of 5 people in a swimsuit on stage, let alone hundreds. But hey, if I REALLY wanted to change laws or find a cure for a disease faster, meh, maybe I would consider it. 

Every single one of these girls had a platform they were supporting from gender equality, to LGBTQ rights, to cures for diseases and beyond. All platforms that made me feel like, “hmmm maybe I should stop crying about assholes in my life and maybe start making a difference like these chicks.” 

Because with the crown on your head, you have a better chance at getting shit done and inspiring change. That made me understand why these girls, who weren’t all Kendall Jenner (I really wanted to say Cindy Crawford but … audience) thin, strutted out on the stage in a swimsuit, cellulite, curves, and all. 

At first I cringed for them and wanted to throw sharp objects at the people who still think it is okay to have a “swimsuit round” in a pageant. To be honest, I don’t support it. How a woman in a swimsuit makes a queen is beyond me. But it DOES show their confidence. 

I saw probably some of the most confident women in all shapes and sizes strut their stuff out there with a smile on their face. And THAT was amazing to me. Did I wish they didn’t have to do it? Yes … but unfortunately I don’t rule the world. 

So the next time you want to bash a beauty queen or a pageant, think about the girls participating and working their asses off for that crown. Because the crown is just something shiny that stands for scholarship money (the winner received a $10,000 scholarship … hello) for them to better themselves. An opportunity to stand on a platform and make a difference in the community. Something not everyone has a chance to because you can scream as loud as you want, but it’s really hard for people to hear you without the right platform.

So congrats to the new Miss Philadelphia 2016 and Miss Philadelphia’s Outstanding Teen. Kick ass this year, girls, and stick it to the man.

Me with the new Miss Philadelphia’s Outstanding Teen

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Experiencing Miss Philadelphia 2015

CaptureOne of my favorite past-times as a child was watching the Miss America pageant. My mom would get me takeout and I would park myself in front of our tiny little box TV, bunny ears and all, and marvel at the beautiful gowns. Let me make it clear that I had no aspirations of becoming a beauty queen myself, but I just adored shiny, beautiful things. Somethings never change, I suppose.

So you could imagine my delight when one of my best friends, who is now Co-Director of the Miss Philadelphia pageant (mama is OH so proud), asked me to volunteer at the 94th annual Miss Philadelphia pageant this past Saturday. Now, because of movies like Miss Congeniality and horrific reality shows detailing the lives of actual beauty queens, you immediately think big hair, huge egos, and of course, world peace. Naturally I was terrified that an underfed beauty queen high on Aqua Net would verbally abuse me to get her an Evian spritzer or something.

But I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised. No tantrums. No crazy stage moms. No freak outs. No praying in the corner and overly thanking Jesus. No Vaseline on the teeth (I mean maybe, I wasn’t like all up in their bidniss when they were getting ready). These ladies were the real deal. And I gotta say, oh so refreshing. I was expecting to see Barbie Doll clones that were so beautiful and perfect, that you couldn’t look at them directly or your face would melt off. Instead you saw real women of all sizes, colors, personalities. Aspiring doctors, Master degree holders, all talented and lovely in their own way.

These girls defined “beauty queen” in a modern way … the way beauty SHOULD be defined. Each one, especially the contestants for outstanding teen, which made me feel really bad about myself for not having my shit together like these ladies do at such a young age. And everyone was so calm and nice, even under all the pressure. It was almost scary. For me, the idea of prancing on a stage in front of hundreds of people in a God damn bikini as they judged me would make me curl into the fetal position and cry for my mommy. Yet these girls walked around waiting to get their hair and makeup did, treating everyone they came across with respect like, “meh … all in a day.”

It takes balls to be a beauty queen, let me tell you. While I don’t fully agree with pageants and find them to be a little dated, these girls were educated, smart, and just there to better themselves and the community they adore so much. If that meant strutting their stuff in four inch heels (clear heels sometimes, which I was told is a “pageant thing”) and a bikini in order to get that chance, well, so be it. And yeah … the crown. The crown is rad. What lady wouldn’t want to wear a crown, for crying out loud. Hell, I did. Oh yeah, I tried that shit on before the show. It was glorious.

I want to thank the Miss Philadelphia Organization for welcoming me into their world for one day and getting to experience the beauty queen lifestyle. It was lovely meeting all the past queens, as well as the ones participating. Especially our reigning Miss Philadelphia, Julia Rae, who isn’t just straight up talented and gorgeous, but such a sweet heart. Her state of zen before the show was mind blowing. Again … I would be crying for my mommy. So congrats to all the participants. I was happy to eat all the carbs for you back stage so you didn’t feel the need to. You’re welcome, ladies, you’re welcome.