“What’s your talent?”
Ah, the big question you’re asked when you compete in a pageant. It was my first time competing in a pageant on a big whim so I grimaced inside when I answered, “poetry.”
It wasn’t a dance number and I wasn’t going to be belting out any songs that night either. I told family and friends, “The judges probably get tired of seeing the same old dance routines and girls singing. My talent will be different.”
So that’s what I did. I read two poems that were published in the student literary journal at my university. I used my talents of putting words together to capture a moment, paint a picture, make people feel an emotion, and even laugh a little.
People have told me, “I wish I could write like that” and have admired my abilities to put words a certain way. When others say they wish they could do something you can do, I would say that means you have talent.
With that past experience, I appreciated this year’s Miss Colorado, Kelley Johnson, for performing a monologue at the Miss America competition. It takes skill to deliver an effective monologue in the first place, but she talked about her talent of being a nurse.
I know I don’t have the skills and abilities to be a nurse, so I admire the people that excel in that line of work. It’s something that not just anybody can do. So my goodness, I call that a talent. I applaud her for not only doing a meaningful job that requires caring for others, but also the ability to stand in front of a huge audience and deliver that message. (In case you didn’t know, public speaking is the number one fear among adults).
Now this is where we start to have issues. Over the years, pageants have received a bad reputation for many reasons. But mostly, a lot of people view them in a lens as an entertainment spectacle that involves making fun of the contestants and not taking much of anything seriously. Hell, I’ve been guilty of it too. Sometimes I like the scrolling fun facts that include the most random (and cheesy) tidbits about the girls. But I digress.
It’s as if our society can’t wait to get their popcorn ready and watch out for what our media will report in the next day’s headlines. What controversial issue will one girl stoke the fire to? Which girl will mess up her answer? Which one will trip on her dress? I imagine writers are coming up with jokes and talk show hosts are compiling easy material the second it happens.
A prime example of this phenomenon is Michelle Collins and the comments she made on the daytime talk show, The View. Let me break it down.
Michelle explained to the panel of women, “But then there was a girl who wrote her own monologue and I was like ‘turn the volume up, this is going be amazing, let’s listen.’”
This is that get-your-popcorn-ready mindset our society has when we think something juicy is about to happen. The roll of her eyes and sarcastic tone showed that she was already going to view the speech in a negative mindset.
Collins continued on to say, “She came out in a nurse’s uniform and basically read her emails out loud and shockingly did not win.” This shows that she turned Kelley Johnson and her talent (which Collins said wasn’t a real talent) into a joke. Anyone that actually listened to her speech would know that there was no mention of emails at all and it was simply a heartfelt story of a patient she cared for that reminded her of why she is a nurse.
When Michelle Collins sarcastically notes that Miss Colorado “shockingly” did not win, it shows how-set-in-the-ways the pageant system is when it is assumed that if you aren’t dancing in a sparkly costume or singing your heart out, you most likely won’t win.
To put the cherry on top of Michelle’s already overly rude comments, she even said it was “hilarious.”
Yes, pageants are a controversial topic in many ways, but if people watch with a different lens, they will see young women that truly want to make a difference. There are girls that compete that have talents and have already accomplished a lot for their young age. They possess qualities such as self-discipline, determination, and courage. How do you feel about walking across a stage in a swimsuit and high heels with a spotlight on you?
Give the ladies a break. They obviously have goals and they know how to work for them. They are women that want to be lawyers, doctors, and teachers. Professions that are important and needed in our society. So instead of judging her, applaud her for being courageous enough to be different than the norm and taking on a tough, but needed job. Next time you watch a pageant, try to watch it with a different and positive lens. You just may view it in a different and more inspiring way.