I don't have TLC, so I wasn't able to watch the Miss America Competition (which I haven't watched in years) but I kind of wanted to see because of a certain SGT Jill Stevens running as Miss Utah. I wanted to watch in support of a fellow soldier running a pageant in an unorthodox manner, and who apparently stuck to her beliefs.
Well, apparently Miss Utah wasn't selected as the final sixteen contestants, but she made the finals because she was voted as America's Choice. Well, she did make the cover of Soldier Magazine, so she had plenty of publicity being a Combat Veteran running in a beauty pageant.
Due to declining ratings, TLC promised change in this year's pageant, but Miss Utah, who is LDS, chose to wear a one piece swimsuit in the swimsuit competition, which is supposedly to demonstrate fitness. Stevens is a 12 time marathon runner and can probably max the male PT test, but because she decided to display modesty instead of her belly button, she didn't make it to the final twelve.
In true military fashion, she dropped upon elimination and did a set of push ups, to the cheers of the crowd, which included members of her National Guard Unit.
A traditional Barbie Doll Beauty Queen ended up winning the pageant, but every article about the pageant seems to mention America's Choice and plenty of people have seem to be in agreement that if the pageant was after real change, they missed their opportunity by disagreeing with the rest of America. Jill Stevens offered a real sense of change to the pageant. She demonstrated moral courage, integrity, and a sense of fun and humor. She is serving America in a role that is still under some contention in the US, as an American Soldier that shows great love for the military. She is a great role model to our youth today, but did she honestly get kicked out of the competition because she chose a one piece bathing suit in favor of a bikini? Or is there a little political influence in the pageant that thought that they couldn't have a soldier serve as Miss America?
So, SGT Stevens, though you will unlikely read this, you did have my vote for Miss America, and if I ever find my way on the battle field, I would be honored to serve with you.