Beauty Pageants, Ducks, and the Slaughter of the Lambs


by Ann-Marie Murrell

As a former Miss Texas contestant, I can tell you firsthand that by the time you see a televised beauty pageant, it is the end result of more than a year’s worth of work. You can’t simply enter a major pageant; you first have to win a preliminary to even qualify to compete in a State level. Once you’ve won the preliminary crown, almost every day is filled with non-stop public appearances, interviews, makeup and hair consultants, interview coaching, and clothes fittings. Every weekend of my freshman year in college, my “pageant team” came to North Texas State to accompany me to various pageants and special events. On more than one occasion, I had to walk through my dorm in full beauty pageant regalia (which didn’t make me very popular, by the way).

Just like a sports team, if you have a strong coaching staff, by the time you get to the actual “Superbowl” pageant, everyone in the industry knows who you are. The VIP contestants have been unofficially pre-selected, and strengths and weaknesses have been duly noted. Of course judges aren’t sequestered, so they, too, know the stats of each contestant long before the pageant begins.

I’m mentioning all of this because of Carrie Prejean, Miss California 2009. On the night Americans watched her on television competing for the Miss USA title, she had already won her preliminaries. She had worked for a year (as I did) to win her state title (which I did not). Once Carrie won Miss California, she underwent another full year prepping for Miss USA.

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