What’s the very first thing that many individuals think of when asked to describe a beauty pageant? Well, for many, it’s often a process focused mainly on looks that’s easily stereotyped as a shallow process. However, those who are quick to judge should take a look at the respective Miss Black New Jersey USA and the Miss Black New York USA pageants.
focus on recognizing scholastic achievement and the impact that education can have on achieving lifetime success. Lori Bryant, the 2010 Miss Black New Jersey USA winner, plans on attending law school in the fall of 2010 while also working to start her own online book club that will cater to issues that directly affect African American women. In addition, she seeks to give back to her community by teaching free dance lessons to inner-city youth in addition to encouraging young people to vote and advocating breast cancer awareness. She believes that success “can be defined as a journey where one has to overcome obstacles that shape his or her character.”
The main pageant itself is definitely an event that leads its young female participants to grow as individuals. The Miss Black New Jersey and the Miss Black New York competitions are based on participants’ scores in a personal interview, on-stage question and answer, a talent, evening gown, and personal fitness. Fedlene Larose, the 2010 winner of the Miss Black New Jersey Talented Teen competition, believes that, while many perceive pageants are based on beauty or superiority, that it challenges “physical and mental endurance.” Larose is convinced that the Miss Black New Jersey Talented Teen competition helped her to learn what she is capable of, in addition to the various aspects that she needs to improve on in order to project herself as a “confident young woman.”
The Miss Black New Jersey USA and the Miss Black New York USA pageants, in addition to each organization’s Talented Teen pageants, seek to showcase the talent, beauty, and intellect of young women to family, friends, and a panel of judges in 2011. Applicants for the Miss Black New Jersey and Miss Black New York pageants must be between the ages of eighteen and twenty-seven and must be either a high school graduate or in their senior year of high school. They must live, work, or attend school in either New Jersey or New York respectively, and, in addition, have a 2.5 cumulative GPA at the time of their application. Talented Teen applicants must be between the ages of thirteen to seventeen. Interested young women should apply online at either www.missblacknewjersey.org and www.missblacknewyork.org.
Larose speaks highly of the way the pageant helped her learn the importance of responsibility, dependability, and commitment. The pageant winners’ focus and drive for causes and lessons outside of the typical conception of beauty pageants is certainly something that young women-as well as men and women of all ages araces can certainly learn from themselves.