On Thursday, Feb. 19, the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce announced that Springfield will host the 2016 Miss Ohio and Miss Ohio Teen Pageants. The events, to take place in November, will be held in Clark State Performing Arts Center.
The Chamber estimates that the pageant may bring 2,000 visitors to Springfield and potentially generate $500,000 in revenue for the local economy. During the Nov. 6-7 weekend that the pageant will take place, the event will feature three major sections: an evening gown portion, a swimsuit competition and an interview.
“I believe that pageants are a great activity for young women and men to get involved with,” said Bethany MacMillan, a senior at Wittenberg who participated in pageants in high school. “They teach and encourage poise, public speech and philanthropy.”
Portsmouth, Ohio previously hosted the pageant for several years, but event coordinators decided to move the competition to Springfield, where there is a larger venue and more options for lodging. For the foreseeable future, it appears that the Miss Ohio competition will continue to be held in Springfield.
Despite any excitement surrounding the announcement, some members of the Springfield community have expressed concern about the implications that pageants have on women’s issues. Brooke Wagner, professor of sociology and director of the Womyn’s Center, said that pageants generally promote unrealistic body images and outdated representations of femininity. She admitted that many modern pageants give scholarship money to winners and that many participants are feminists, but maintains that she is concerned about the representations of women that the media portrays from pageants.
“To be successful in a pageant, women must portray themselves in a particular way consistent with our culture’s understanding of femininity,” Wagner said. “The pageant itself also creates a narrative about gender roles and femininity through the events in which women are evaluated, as well as through the overall story told by the media to viewers.”
At the same time, other members of the Wittenberg community tout the positive aspects of pageants, saying that they are a display of participants’ talent and caring for others.
“Contestants are judged on talent (which can be literally anything), public speaking, poise, their involvement in their academics and their philanthropy, their knowledge of current events from around the world, etc.,” MacMillan said. “Pageants are not about one being the best woman by perfecting the ‘traditional womanizing traits,’ but rather, being the best person one can be.”
The competition is already accepting applicants for women and girls aged 13 to 26 who have never been married nor had children, and are Ohio residents. The winner from the 2016 contest will win travel, jewelry, a $40,000 scholarship and the opportunity to represent Ohio in the Miss USA pageant.