Crowning True Beauty

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Congratulations to Miss Indiana Katie Stam for winning the crown and title of Miss America 2009 last Saturday, January 24th. With more than 12,000 women participating each year in local and state events, culminating in the selection of 52 national finalists, only one intelligent and beautiful young lady is chosen by an online audience and panel of judges to win this honorable title. Although many may believe Miss America is a 'teenybopper' bikini contest, solely focused on outer beauty and appearance, this organization actually puts more focus upon the inner beauty within each contestant. Two years after women earned the right to vote and started to play important roles in society, the first Miss America competition was held in 1921, and since then, Miss America has served as an opportunity for young women to promote their voices in culture, politics, and the community. This organization is the world's largest provider of scholarship assistance for young women, having provided more than $45 million in cash and scholarships last year. The Miss America Organization has also dedicated numerous hours and raised millions of dollars for worthy causes around the world. For eighty-eight years, Miss America has proven that beauty and brains do co-exist and has further advanced leadership roles for women over the past century.

Rather than serving as the dimwitted 'It' girl that, unfortunately, youth have to look up to today, Miss America is a role model for young and old alike, using her title to educate millions of Americans of important issues among society. Once chosen, Miss America and the state titleholders use their prominence to address community-service organizations, business and civic leaders, and the media about their platform issues. Miss America titleholders have appeared at thousands of public speaking engagements and charitable events to arouse awareness for causes such as homelessness, HIV/AIDS prevention, literacy, domestic violence, diabetes awareness, and character education. Each representing lady of the sparkling crown has left a sparkle among many smiles around the globe. Women such as Jean Bartel, Miss America 1943, who used her fame to sell more Series E war bonds than anyone else in the Untied States, or Kate Shindle, Miss America 1998, who met with federal, state, and local public officials on behalf of the HIV/AIDS cause, all have empowered other American women to achieve their personal and professional goals and to take a stand for women's equality in society.

Today, Miss America travels approximately 20,000 miles per month, changing her location every 24 to 48 hours to commit to helping others. The Miss America Organization and competition both clearly promote women's voice in society and commitment to charity rather than values solely based on a pretty face and good figure. Reflecting 'a tradition of style, sophistication, and service,' according to an article on the Miss America website, Miss America 'is to be which the American Girl might well emulate,' quoted by Atlantic City Chamber of Commerce President Fredrick Hickman more than 75 years ago. Rather than looking up to the 'teenyboppers' of today, such as Paris Hilton or Britney Spears, youth should pattern themselves after the young ladies of this organization and take up the morals and values this true beauty pageant sets.





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