I began reading and learning about the Miss North Dakota USA pageant after meeting Codi Miller in the summer of 2014. I liked Codi, and I wanted to learn more about her, so I looked her up on the internet and I saw that she was Miss North Dakota Teen USA in 2009, Miss North Dakota Rodeo in 2014, and that she was competing in the Miss North Dakota USA pageant.
Up until that time, I didn’t know that Miss America and Miss America USA were two entirely different pageant organizations, until people began fervently correcting me when I used these titles incorrectly. I didn’t like beauty pageants, at the time I thought that they were detrimental and damaging to women. I wished that Codi would not compete in these pageants, and I couldn’t understand why she did it.
Prior to the Miss North Dakota USA pageant in November, I saw a few press releases and Facebook posts about who the contestants were. Though I didn’t want Codi to win because I wished that she would stop, after seeing her most recent photographs I thought that most certainly she would win. I was astonished when she didn’t win, and I was angry about it. I believed that there were politics and other things involved in the judging, unrelated to who was the most beautiful.
But Codi was very gracious about it, poised, and composed. She and her family never showed or expressed any anger or bitterness about it, and she tried again next year. There were many things that I began to understand and realize.
These pageants are a huge investment of time, effort, work, energy, and money, not just from the contestants, but from their mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, friends, and sponsors. For each contestant, there are personal trainers, nutritionists, aestheticians, hair stylists, photographers, clothing retailers, jewelry retailers, and sponsors that put in a great deal of time, effort, work, energy, and money.
Each of the pageant contestants has so much at stake for themselves personally. Doing well in each phase of the competition can lead to an overall win, and continuing on to the national pageant, or placing as runner-up, or other recognition. But in addition to what is at stake for these contestants personally, they don’t want to disappoint their family, friends, supporters, and sponsors either.
Something else that I realized, was that the pageant contestants couldn’t begin preparing months in advance, they had to live many years of their lives getting ready for these pageants. For instance, as teenagers, these young women could not get into any trouble at school, could not get into trouble in the community, could not send offensive text messages, could not post anything controversial on Facebook, could not join a dating website, had to be careful about what photographs were taken of them, and could not do a lot of things that other teenagers do, such as date very many boys, get drunk at parties, experiment with alcohol, sex, drugs, or driving fast.
Any women who wish to participate in beauty pageants, everything about them, and everything they have ever done, will be scrutinized. So in addition to being “perfect” in the pageant, they had to be “perfect” for years and years prior to the pageant. So, it takes years and years of work and effort to be a contestant in a beauty pageant.
In February of 2018, a friend of mine who was involved in making arrangements for the Rodeo in Grassy Butte, North Dakota, which is a charity fundraiser for the Home On The Range Orphanage, asked me if I would like to work with Codi Miller and Miss America 2018 Cara Mund. I said that I didn’t know if this was a good idea, I had written several articles about Codi, and I thought that Codi might not like this, he had better ask Codi first.
In thinking about this, what was funny to me, was that Miss America Cara Mund and her assistant would probably be expecting and assuming that I would be starstruck by Cara and be a nuisance to her, but they would be taken aback and puzzled when I paid more attention to Codi. Upon hearing an explanation for this, it would be a relief to Cara, and funny to her, but tremendously irritating to Codi.
I knew that I would have to be on my absolute best behavior in order to not annoy or anger Cara Mund, Cara’s assistant, and Codi. When I began reading about Cara Mund, and I saw that she graduated from Brown University, I thought there is no way that this is going to work, there is going to be an argument right away, and all three of them are going to gang up against me. Apparently, my employer thought the same thing, that surely I would get Cara Mund and Codi mad at me, so he wouldn’t allow me to work with them.
Because Brown University is an Ivy League school, which are notorious for producing head-strong, opinionated, liberal, know-it-all women, I could see Cara reading one of my blog post articles after a discussion with Codi, and then all three of them planning for the right time to corner me and attack me together for writing that shit about women.
Still, it might be nice to be attacked by Cara Mund and Codi Miller for a change, I thought. Maybe I should just let them go on a tirade against me for about five minutes to get it out of their system, and then it would be over. I tried to read some more about Cara Mund, and I couldn’t find very much information on her. I did see that there was some criticism of her for not being very visible or available during her time as Miss America 2018.
When it became closer to the Grassy Butte Home On The Range Rodeo in August, and completely clear that my employer was not going to allow me to work with Cara Mund and Codi Miller, and I no longer had to worry about getting into an argument with Cara or Codi, I went ahead and wrote a blog post article about the Miss America pageant discontinuing the swimsuit phase of the competition, due to Gretchen Carlson becoming chairwoman.
In June of 2018, Gretchen Carlson announced that the Miss America pageant will no longer have pageant contestants being judged wearing swimsuits. In a CNN interview, Gretchen Carlson made the following comments, “We will no longer judge our candidates on their outward physical appearance. That’s huge.” Carlson also said the new Miss America competition will be more inclusive to women of “all shapes and sizes.”
Before I spent more time learning about the Miss America pageants and the Miss America USA pageants, I believed that these pageants were detrimental, damaging, degrading, and humiliating to women. But once you understand how much time, energy, effort, work, and preparation is involved, from not only the contestants, but their family, friends, supporters, and sponsors, you would see that it is not detrimental, damaging, degrading, and humiliating, it is mostly a lot of hard work.
In the blog post article that I wrote in late July about the swimsuit phase of the competition being discontinued, I used some analogies comparing Beauty Pageants to sporting competitions or academic performance and scholarships. We wouldn’t try to handicap or penalize tall people for being better at running and jumping than short people. We wouldn’t try to handicap or penalize short people for being better at wrestling or weightlifting than tall people. Why would we try to handicap or penalize attractive, healthy, in-shape, physically fit women in a Beauty Pageant to make things more fair for fat, overweight, out-of-shape, unhealthy women?
Continuing to compare Beauty Pageants to sporting competitions or academic performance, in athletics and academics, some people are naturally gifted, and some people have to work much harder. In athletics and academics, everyone begins with completely different abilities, some with more aptitude and ability than others. In sports, academics, or Beauty Pageants, everyone starts out with different and unequal abilities and natural gifts, some people will have to work much harder than others in order to compete and be successful.
In state and national Beauty Pageants, the competitors have both natural beauty and they have put in a lot of work. Some women have had to exercise more, train more, change their diet, pay more attention to nutrition, improve their posture, change the way they sit, stand, or walk, improve their vocabulary, become a better speaker, organize their thoughts and what they say better, learn to be more outgoing and less introverted, pay more attention to news and world events, be more observant of what other people think and feel, take more interest in what other people have to say, or be more confident. Each of the women competitors have had to work hard at various things, that may come more naturally to other women competitors.
Once you stop and think about it, this is crazy and insane, that Gretchen Carlson would like to remove the swimsuit competition from the Miss America Pageant, in order to make things more fair for the fat, overweight, out-of-shape, unhealthy competitors, penalizing and handicapping the naturally beautiful and hard working competitors.
In the third week of August 2018, Cara Mund released a six page letter protesting her treatment by Miss America chairwoman Gretchen Carlson and Miss America CEO Regina Hopper. I was shocked that Cara had to write such a letter, and by the way that she was treated which she described in her letter.
Before I summarize what happened to Cara, I want to emphasize how Cara should have been treated after being crowned Miss America 2018:
- Cara should have been treated with the utmost respect, courtesy, and cooperation by the Miss America organization.
- Cara should have been kept informed by the Miss America organization of all possible speaking engagements, events, interviews, and opportunities to speak on behalf of Miss America, young women, and social causes.
- The Miss America organization should have sought out every opportunity and outlet for Cara to speak on behalf of the Miss America organization and young women’s issues.
- The Miss America organization should have maintained weekly professional communication with Cara regarding her schedule, opportunities, possibilities, and happenings within the organization to keep her informed, and to try to maximize the success of Cara and the organization.
It is shocking, upsetting, and disgusting to me the way that Cara Mund was treated by the Miss America organization. What should have been one of the best years of this young 23 year old’s life, was instead ruined and taken away by Gretchen Carlson and Regina Hopper. This is how Cara was treated by the Miss America organization:
- Though the Miss America pageant judged and vetted all of the contestants in the state pageants to select a winner from each state, and then judged and vetted all of these state pageant winners to choose Miss America, which was Cara, Gretchen Carlson and Regina Hopper then later decided that Cara Mund was not fit, good enough, or smart enough to speak on behalf of the Miss America organization or on young women’s issues.
- The Miss America organization began to not inform Cara of any speaking engagements or interview opportunities, and instead Gretchen Carlson began personally trying to take the place of Cara at any speaking engagement or interview opportunity.
- The Miss America organization began to try to take steps to make it appear that Cara was not available for speaking engagements or interview opportunities, and began characterizing Cara as being unreliable.
Here is a link to Cara Mund’s six-page letter: https://bismarcktribune.com/cara-mund-letter/pdf_bdb98d8a-646e-54e8-830a-8905366ec2cf.html . When you click on this link, and get to this letter posted by the Bismarck Tribune, click on this letter to read all six pages.
In this letter, Cara Mund points out that she is not stupid, she graduated with honors from Brown University with a degree in Business, Entrepreneurship, and Organizations. Her senior year thesis was on the Miss America organization. She worked for Senator John Hoeven in Washington D.C., and a public relations company in New York.
During Cara’s year as Miss America, it was pretty much ruined by chairwoman Gretchen Carlson and CEO Regina Hopper, who treated Cara like she wasn’t smart enough or knowledgeable enough to speak at important events or interviews. This is the exact opposite of what the Miss America organization is supposed to do. This organization is supposed to empower young women and give them every opportunity to speak about issues concerning young women.
Since Cara’s year as Miss America was ruined, and she was not given the chance to speak on behalf of the Miss America organization or advocate for young women, I think that a good way to fix everything all at once, would be to replace chairwoman Gretchen Carlson with Cara Mund.
Gretchen Carlson is not suitable to lead the Miss America organization as shown by her mistreatment of Cara, and the direction that she wants to take the pageant, to no longer focus on “physical beauty”.
Cara is able to relate completely to what new Miss America contestants will experience, and how they should be treated. I think that Cara is qualified to lead the Miss America organization, that she deserves the chance to be heard and advocate for young women, and that this whole situation can be turned into something that will be inspirational and positive for young women.