Real Beauty

I found this inspiring. With my meager experience within the pageant world, I do like to keep a tab on what's going on with Miss Utah and the Miss America Organization in general. Although my personal experiences offered many lessons and experiences I hold very valuable, I still found myself disappointed with certain aspects of the pageant world. Don't get me wrong, each girl had devoted hours upon hours of service to a chosen platform backed by extensive amounts of time studying in their chosen field, current events and talents.
However, it seemed all of those aspects were strongly laced to materialistic desires, which often resulted in the lowering of values right and left. I would watch girls start out their first year in a one piece swim suit and a sleeveless evening gown only to trade them in for a string bikini and strapless dress the next. I saw girls who would cater their interview answers to meet the views of very liberal judges. And of course-- as positively put as possible--the spirit of competition! (which had an amazing ability to make nice girls, not so nice). I don't know if I can say I blame them. It's a hard world not to get caught up in when you are so focused...on yourself. With that said, there were some class acts (one of which is the out going queen, Katie Millar, who made me bawl after making Top 10 at Miss America and chose to strut her stuff in a one piece) I still feel privileged to have met during my pageant experiences. Unfortunately, it's rare to see one of those girls rise to the top. These last couple of years however, I think they've hit it on the nose. Congrats to Miss Utah 2007! (It's a great story, read on...)
By Stephen SpeckmanDeseret Morning News
Jill Stevens can look like a tough and gritty soldier one day and a beauty queen the next.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret Morning News
Jill Stevens is crowned Miss Utah by last year's winner, Katie Millar, at the Capitol Theatre last week. As a sergeant in the Utah National Guard, she's a combat medic who spent a year in Afghanistan patching up injured troops back in 2004 and 2005. This past Friday, the 24-year-old self-described "electric" person, nicknamed "Smiles," was crowned Miss Utah. "It's still settling in," Stevens said on the phone Monday. Last year Stevens competed as Miss Southern Utah University in the Miss Utah Scholarship Pageant, finishing as second runner-up. In May she graduated from SUU with a degree in nursing. Last February the Kaysville resident was crowned Miss Davis County before being named Miss Utah last week. Stevens said she plans to use the $10,000 scholarship prize for her master's degree toward a career as a nurse practitioner in the emergency medicine field. The new title was yet another surprise coming from the middle child of five siblings who have grown up in a musical family, with a mother who is a member of the famed Mormon Tabernacle Choir. When Stevens joined the Guard just before graduating from Davis High School in 2001, her family was surprised then. Stevens said joining the military was reflective of who she was — full of energy, someone with a sense of adventure. Her family eventually understood. "I love challenges," she said. "I love trying new things." One challenge last week was having to don a swimsuit for the pageant when her normal uniform is camouflage fatigues. "Everyone knows that in a pageant that's part of it," she said, with one caveat: "I think there's better ways to showcase fitness." A nine-time marathon finisher, Stevens said she'd rather compete in a triathlon as part of the fitness portion of the pageant. The swimsuit competition reminded her how she's more muscular than skinny as a result of lugging around rucksacks that weigh as much as 70 pounds while training with the Guard. Oh, and being attractive in the Army has meant Stevens gets attention from some of the male soldiers. She used the words "hit on." "It teaches you to stand your ground," Stevens said. "You have to be blunt with soldiers." With her chutzpah and others looking out for her, Stevens said she has had "no troubles." Her plan now is to use the Miss Utah title to spread the word about emergency preparedness, which was her platform for the competition. She'll be visiting high schools throughout Utah to make sure they know how to respond during a disaster. It's unknown at this point whether Stevens will be deployed again or how her Guard duties will mix with her responsibilities and appearances around the state as Miss Utah. She has about 18 months left on an eight-year contract with the Guard. Utah Guard spokesman Maj. Hank McIntire said having a Miss America 2008 contestant among the ranks here is a positive thing. "It draws attention to the Guard in a unique way," McIntire said. "You don't typically see a beauty queen in combat boots." Stevens' title, he said, adds a new dimension to the kinds of things a Guard member can accomplish. He said the new Miss Utah will serve as a role model for young women who might not otherwise consider joining the Guard. "She has a legitimate shot at winning Miss America," McIntire said. "Just because of the kind of person she is."By Stephen SpeckmanDeseret Morning News

No comments:

Post a Comment