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Tuesday, September 26, 2023


Couch Potato: Cougar alumna named Miss USA

"Hero" is not a word to be thrown around lightly, so it’s always exciting when someone new steps up and claims the baggage that comes with the loaded term. Of course, the spectacle is all the more glorious when a shimmering crown of diamonds replaces the antiquated laurel wreath.

On Friday, NBC aired the 57th annual Miss USA beauty pageant, which bestowed the coveted crown to Crystle Stewart, a Missouri City native and UH alumna. As a fellow Texan (and Cougar), it may seem a bit biased to support our contestant, but it certainly won’t hurt to take a closer look at what makes Stewart a hero.

When selecting a winner for this competition, several things are taken into consideration: beauty (duh), brains, poise, public-speaking skills, confidence, personality, charity and knowledge of worldly affairs. Above all, the woman who takes the crown should represent American character. She ought to be some sort of weird hybrid between John Wayne and Jacqueline Kennedy: valiant yet refined. She should be a role model – someone the kiddies can really look up to and emulate.

This year’s winner is all of these things. Stewart is not only extremely beautiful but also boasts independence and entrepreneurial spirit. At 26 years old, she is a college graduate, has pledged to devote her life to international philanthropy, models professionally and owns her own business, providing party planning services and motivational speaking. Stewart embodies the ideal of the contemporary American woman, emboldening women around the country and around the world.

"I want to talk to people about how to set a goal and achieve it," Stewart told reporters backstage at the pageant. "Because I just achieved my goal."

Donald Trump, big cheese of the pageant, must be so proud.

She, as well as everyone else, was also quick to point out that she is black, which is something of a rarity among pageant winners. While it’s upsetting that this has been made into an issue, it is encouraging to know that she will be associated with such grace and generosity.

It is extremely easy – and trendy – to accuse pageants of being grossly superficial and even degrading, but they do, or at least aim to, serve a very specific (if latent) purpose: propaganda. Like the word "hero," "Miss USA" is a loaded term, but it must not necessarily carry such a negative connotation. It becomes especially evident when remembering that Miss USA will go on to compete in the Miss Universe beauty pageant.

In a very real sense, she is an American ambassador and will go on to contribute to the world’s opinion of America. She will go to battle this year and remind the world that we’re a beautiful force to be reckoned with. Pardon the patriotism.

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