My topic came to me for What to Wear Wednesday when Miss Arizona, Jennifer Smestad came shopping for clothes to wear at the Miss America Pageant in September. While Jenny spent time in the fitting room, I chatted with her mom. The contestants spend 13 days in Atlantic City, NJ and participate in a plethora of activities requiring at a minimum three outfit changes a day. Obviously, planning is key, as well as some huge suitcases (still on their list of items to shop for). Her mom mentioned the care required in packing Jennifer’s gowns, with lots of tissue paper.
Prior to heading out for the pageant, not only does Jenny have to brush up on potential questions she could be asked in her interviews, she has to participate in many public speaking engagements as well as figuring out what she will wear each day from the undergarments, shoes, accessories and clothing. And no, she does not get any help from her mom or a coach, she’s on her own. In fact, once in Atlantic City, contestants have limited contact with their families. Jennifer’s family will be there the entire time hoping to catch glimpses of her throughout the day as she participates in all of her activities. As if that’s not overwhelming enough, Jenny was just crowned in June so she has had three short months to prepare for the oldest pageant in America.
The Miss America Pageant was founded in 1921 as a scholarship program. Miss America contestants must have a talent, a community service platform and they must be in school. Not to be confused with the Miss USA Pageant which was founded in 1952 by Catalina swimsuits and is based more on appearance. Miss America contestants compete in a personal interview, talent, lifestyle and fitness in swimsuits, evening wear and an onstage question. Miss USA contestants compete in evening gown, swimsuit and an interview.
Jennifer was very down-to-earth and humble, and we had a good time chatting as she tried on clothes. She is from Gilbert and attends Grand Canyon University as a Communications and Exercise Science double major. She is 20 years old and several of the contestants are older than her. Her platform is to provide hope and support for children with neurological disorders. She was diagnosed with Tourette’s Syndrome when she was 10. Her talent is singing country music. She has recorded three songs which are available on ITunes.
Previous Miss Arizonas have won Miss America only twice so please go online to vote for Jennifer now in the America’s Choice contest at http://www.missamerica.org/videocontest/default.aspx and watch the pageant on ABC September 16 at 9pm.
We would love to hear your pageant stories. Have you ever participated in a pageant either as a contestant or supporter? Tell us your story!
This post is sponsored by:
The Brett Saks Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, hopes to make our Arizona communities safer for bicyclists by teaching adults and children about road safety and mutual respect between drivers and cyclists in fun and engaging ways. We are “Shifting Gears to Saves Lives,” as more than 600 cyclists are lost each year to car-bike accidents. Learn more at gearupaz.org.