What it’s supposed to mean to be Miss USA

Via the Miss USA website (emphasis added):

Who would have thought that a local “bathing beauty” competition spearheaded by Catalina Swimwear in Long Beach, CA would metamorphose into a landmark annual tradition with countless young women around the country vying to become Miss USA? As hundreds of millions of fans have watched in 125 different countries, the homegrown contest has evolved into a powerful, year-round, international organization that advances and supports opportunities for these role models.

Becoming what is now considered American royalty is still an obtainable dream for young women 50 years later. Today, Miss USA has become a fixture of pop culture, ingrained in the landscape of our minds. As the first cover subject of MS magazine’s premier issue in 1969, Miss USA continues to stand proud, breaking boundaries and defining what it means to be a woman in the 21st century.

These women are savvy, goal-oriented and aware. The delegates who become part of the Miss Universe Organization display those characteristics in their everyday lives, both as individuals, who compete with hope of advancing their careers, personal and humanitarian goals, and as women who see to improve the lives of others. Currently, Miss USA is experiencing a rebirth, playing a critical role in making the next 100 years “The Century of Women.”

What it actually means to be Miss USA:

NEW YORK — Donald Trump made “you’re fired!” a TV catchphrase, and he was prepared to deliver it when he walked into a meeting with embattled Miss USA Tara Conner.

But Trump said Tuesday he came away convinced the 21-year-old beauty queen was a “good person” with a “good heart.”

In a moment of television drama filled with redemptive tears and longing looks, Trump announced with Conner by his side that he had decided to let her keep her title after she agreed to enter rehab and undergo drug testing.

“I’ve always been a believer in second chances,” said Trump, who owns the Miss Universe Organization and the Miss USA pageant with NBC. “Tara is going to be given a second chance.”

Conner, who comes from the small town of Russell Springs, Ky., won the title in April and moved to New York. She has since partied hard, admitting she frequented clubs and threw back drinks, despite being underage. She turned 21 on Monday.

You know what? I’m a believer in second chances too, and I’m fully aware that no one is perfect and we all make mistakes, but I’m not also a believer in rewarding bad behavior, which is what has happened here (surprisingly) with Trump deciding not to strip Conner of the Miss USA crown after it had surfaced that she was regularly engaging in underage drinking (and who knows what else – there have been unsubstantiated rumors of cocaine abuse as well). The official website, as I noted above, clearly states what kind of woman is supposed to wear the crown – and party animal Conner doesn’t fit the mold.

I’m not big on these type of contests, but the Miss USA pageant organizers promote and talk up the high standards they they hold for potential Miss USAs on their website and knowing that, Trump and co. should have done the right thing here and given the crown to Miss USA 2006 runner-up Miss California Tamiko Nash. By leaving it in Conner’s hands, they’ve effectively sent the wrong signal to young American girls across the country who may be dreaming or one day dream of becoming Miss USA: You can talk a good talk, and win the competition, and if it’s found out you aren’t living up to the standards you knew existed prior to entering it, it doesn’t matter – you’ll be given a second chance.

Miss Conner is not a Miss USA “role model”; rather, she should be an example of what happens when you violate the rules and don’t live up to the high standards associated with your position. Instead, she’s now an example of how to get away with violating those rules and standards because Donald Trump wussed out in the name of “second chances” – something he’s not known for doing.

After hearing about Conner’s behind-the-scenes behavior, I didn’t think that she was the kind of person who Trump and the other Miss USA competition organizers would want as the woman who is “defining what it means to be a woman in the 21st century” and figured he’d take the crown from her and give it to Ms. Nash, but I guess I was wrong about that. If she’s fulfilled any part of the Miss USA role, it’s the one about “breaking boundaries” – the boundries for high standards, anyway.

I guess this is what the Miss USA site means when it talks about present and future Miss USAs experiencing a “rebirth.”

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