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Miss New York USA 2010

Why I’m entering a Beauty Pageant

Miss USA 2009 Kristen Dalton

I watched Miss America as a child. I was 8, maybe 9. I remember Miss Hawaii won Miss Congeniality, but I forget who took the crown. What I remember even more clearly was the lone Asian contestant vying for the national title. She seemed a little softer than the other contestants, a little less sexily taut, and I was torn between rooting for her based on our ethnic similarities or emotionally selling out to support the blondes who I wish I could be.

Now I’m 20. I got into Harvard with my well-roundedness – when I used to report on admissions for the The Harvard Crimson, Dean of Admissions Bill Fitzsimmons looked up my file and told me offhand, “Yep, you were one of the all-arounders.” I tried to do everything. I did some human rights stuff, I edited the school newspaper, I freelanced for a local paper, and dutifully attended karate twice a week.

But deep down, really, I always wondered what it would be like to be both beautiful and stupid; to do nothing but focus on your appearance rather than brains. I thought it’d be kind of glorious, an easy existence, even with evidence to the contrary. Now, I wonder more about how my ethnic background, which doesn’t reach too much farther than skin tone and bone structure, will affect my career aspirations. Will anyone – and by anyone, I mean the bulk of Caucasian America – be able to relate to me?

Miss New York USA 2009, Tracey Chang

This is all a long way of saying that part of the reason why I find entering Miss New York USA (part of Donald Trump’s Miss USA circuit, not the Miss America pageant) an interesting experience is because it is truly something that the 8 year old in me finds thrilling, a little subversive, obviously ludicrous. I was inspired to apply since 2009’s title holder is Tracey Chang, who was also born in China, although she left at a much later age than I did. And while part of me is entering just “for the experience” – which is the only reason to do anything – part of me also wonders if I would be qualified to represent this country, or some part of this country.

Iknow that while I could drum up a convincing-sounding argument in my favor, that plenty of people would disagree. This may be a country of immigrants, but some immigrants seem more American than others.

Part of why I’m entering is superficial: it’s to get in shape and have an excuse to take care of myself. I’m drinking my 8 glasses of water a day, cutting out coffee, and trying to get as much sleep and exercise as I can fit in. My skin looks much better, my head feels clearer, and though I still have a few pounds to shed, it seems being healthy is a worthwhile endeavor, all the better if there’s a goal in mind. It’s tough, though. Loving food is not necessarily bad for staying in shape – there are many ways to love food – but moderation is tough!

On Thanksgiving weekend, I’ll be competing and living out the third reason why I’m doing this – as an undercover mission. What’s the beauty pageant world like? What are the girls like? How many surgical enhancements might I spot? Will this ruin my self-esteem? Will I be able to glide in 4.5 inch gold stilettoes? How much tape will I need to adhere my bikini to my body? Will I feel totally ridiculous?

What doesn’t kill me, I hope, will just make me stronger. And more sparkly.

Hopefully, you’ll be interested in reading about my quest to have really big hair along with finding the perfect fried oyster.

Discussion

10 Responses to “Why I’m entering a Beauty Pageant”

  1. Haha, thanks for the encouragement. :)

    Posted by admin | October 7, 2009, 7:50 pm
  2. “I always wondered what it would be like to be both beautiful and stupid; to do nothing but focus on your appearance rather than brains.”

    Please don’t prejudge pageant contestants, especially Tracey. I can tell you, not only is she absolutely gorgeous in person, but she’s also one SMART woman. A native Mandarin speaker, she also speaks perfect English. She went to college on a full academic scholarship, worked on Wall St., and is now studying for her MBA at Columbia. She’s also ambitious: she’s working to become a financial journalist. With her looks and brains, she could be the next Maria Bartiromo – the Asian Money Honey!

    Hopefully you’ll get to meet her in Albany over Thanksgiving weekend.

    “Break a leg” and REPRESENT.

    Posted by LindaW | November 17, 2009, 8:18 am
    • Sorry words got misinterpreted – I was in no way suggesting that all beauty queens are airheads, and I’m well aware and impressed with Tracey’s achievements (and beauty!). I was just referring more to general wish of mine to wonder what it would be like to not think so hard about things, not directly aimed at anyone in particular.

      Posted by admin | November 17, 2009, 6:57 pm
  3. Reply to hellothere: Harvard does have a beauty pageant association… The current Miss Iowa is from Harvard.

    Posted by Reply to hellothere | November 18, 2009, 12:43 am
  4. I will admit I stumbled across this article in pursuit to have the perfect Miss America attire for a costume party. I mean no disrespect for I am only fulfilling a childhood dream also. Although my intent and execution is on a much smaller scale I plan to represent America well. I want to showcase class and intelligence. Wish me luck and thank you ;)

    Posted by AJ the Muay Thai Gear Girl | July 23, 2011, 10:00 am

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. […] I ordered these off of Endless.com specifically for pageant purposes (see my entry on why I’m competing in Miss New York USA) […]

  2. […] LindaW replied to my “Why I’m entering a beauty pageant” post with this: Please don’t prejudge pageant contestants, especially Tracey. I can tell […]

  3. […] a recent graduate from Harvard and  food blogger extraordinaire. In her free time, she has done a beauty pagent, attended Burning Man, and is currently in Malaysia taking a year off to travel and do freelance. […]

  4. […] Why I’m entering a Beauty Pageant | … – This is all a long way of saying that part of the reason why I find entering Miss New York USA (part of Donald Trump’s Miss USA circuit, not the Miss … […]

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Lana Lingbo Li

I'm a world traveler / enthusiastic eater who's now blogging and producing videos over at HelloLana.com. Visit me there!

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