Tuesday, September 30, 2008

UK news in Roanoke

I love my google alerts... and for some odd reason, this British newspaper story fell into one of them. Am I ever glad it did, though! the Guardian, a popular newspaper in the UK, was looking for a place to get "the pulse of the people" in a town in the United States. After setting up a variety of characteristics and narrowing it down, they sent their man to Roanoke, Virginia! Just down the road from me, I find this a fascinating choice. Read the article link below. I think it's wonderful to read about how the international press is trying to get a feel for what's going on in a town like Roanoke; although I'd argue that Roanoke is not typical of all of Virginia. Virginia is home to many distinct regions and political feelings; I think nonetheless that it will be interesting to see what comes of this reporter's work.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Lindsay Morris

Here are some photos of Lindsay Morris "in competition!"

More posts later this week.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Miss America on "Who are you wearing?"

I'm definitely having a pageant filled weekend, but I am not complaining! This week we gave a disastrous online exam to the class I'm teaching, and a variety of technological problems turned it into a nightmare. That, on top of my own work, has made this a very tiring week. After volunteering at Blacksburg Middle School on Friday afternoon, I was excited to tune into Ellen to catch the Miss America ladies (and yes, my mom and I both saw you, Tara, looking fabulous!) and later into TLC's "Who are you wearing?" Tonight I'm meeting Miss Lynchburg for dinner then we're going to watch Miss Roanoke Valley; tomorrow we're headed to Greater Lynchburg's Junior Miss Program!

Although my mom and I live in different states, we frequently watch pageants and pageant-related shows via telephone, calling over the commercial breaks to chat about what happened during the latest segment. We were both equally disappointed with what the designers turned up for Kirsten Haglund, Miss America, last night. I have to say that I've seen a lot of pictures of Kirsten over her year as Miss America, and she always looks stylish and very chic. Her look is a very tailored one, usually sticking to one or two solid colors in her dresses. One of the designers created a shiny purple concoction with a line of rhinestones around it that looked like something one might find at the post-homecoming sale at JC Penney. Kirsten needed a new dress for an event where she was being honored as Michigan's Person of the Year, and she's Miss America, for goodness sakes! Let's jazz it up!

The only garment that had potential was the one she ended up choosing, but even it had a boring color palette of grayish tan and a strange waistcoat that added bulk to Kirsten's petite frame. I think she definitely went the right direction given the other options. The third designer created an Asian-looking partially lopsided sweetheart neckline that had no support in the bust. It was obvious as soon as Kirsten tried the gown on. The gown also had one of my biggest pet peeves "The waist Batman cape" where they attach fabric at the hips and make the gown half cocktail/half full gown. Someone with Kirsten's figure is the only person who could pull it off, but it still wasn't flattering. Why do designers think that women want to attach a giant cape to our hips? I'd prefer to draw attention away from that area!

It was a great show and Kirsten came across as fresh, professional, and very stylish.

Miss Roanoke Valley

Tonight I believe 14 young women are competing for the title of Miss Roanoke Valley. I'll be in the audience with Sarah Fitzpatrick, Miss Lynchburg, cheering for the ladies!

I'll report back with pictures and the winners information.

Congratulations also to Maddie Van Duyne, who will be giving up her title as Miss Roanoke Valley 07 at the pageant tonight.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Miss Roanoke Valley

Miss Roanoke Valley contestants are listed with pictures at the website below:


Monday, September 22, 2008

(Official) Welcome to the Miss VA Family!

Miss Piedmont Region

Thanks and congratulations to Sherri McKinney (Miss Director) and Hester Fletcher (Teen/Preteen Director), the newest addition to the Miss Virginia directorship family. They will be holding their new pageant, Miss Piedmont Region, on January 17th, 2009, at the Virginia Farm Bureau Headquarters in Richmond.

Although both of these women are new to directing, they are not new to the land of pageantry! Both women competed in pageants before and their own daughters are quite successful in their own pageant endeavors!

If you're interested in competing in this new pageant, please visit the site below or email the director!


Saturday, September 20, 2008

Miss Virginia Fall Festival Pictures

Here are some pictures from the Fall Festival! I know Sherri McKinney, Tara's mom, Maddie's mom, and others nabbed pictures when my hands may have been too paint covered to grab a camera, so more may be available later!

Miss Hill City/Star City Outstanding Teen/Preteen Call for Applications

Are you interested in competing in Miss Virginia pageants, but aren't quite old enough to compete at the Miss level? Do you have a daughter who is interested? You're in luck! The last few years, the teen and preteen program has greatly expanded and this year will be one of the biggest expansions we've seen yet!

The Teen/Preteen program gives girls the chance to experience pageants at a younger age, develop self-confidence, and get to know other young women. Virginia has a great track record at the teen level- last year our own Caitlin Brunell won Miss America's Outstanding Teen.

The wonderful Barbara Erb, the new Miss Hill City/Star City Teen/Preteen Director, invites all interested young women to contact her about the possibility of competing in Lynchburg on the afternoon of the Miss Hill City pageant in October.

Miss Pre-Teen Virginia - Ages 10, 11, and 12

Miss Virginia’s Outstanding Teen - Ages 13, 14, 15, 16 and 17
(You may be 17 years of age if you are not a graduating high school senior)

Starting early is a great way to begin developing those skills long before you hit the stage wanting to win "Miss Virginia"!

For more information, please contact

Barbara Erb


Thursday, September 18, 2008

Help me back to Miss Virginia!

Right now I am fundraising to hopefully head back to Miss Virginia in June of 2009. You can help me work towards that goal my donating towards my Children's Miracle Network account. This allows me to compete in my first local of the year and gives the money towards a great charity that helps many children across the country! I'm currently $35 away from my first local goal, so I'd appreciate your help, no matter how small it might be!

Miss Virginia in the news

News Release
Published: September 18, 2008

Hockey player, fighter jet test pilot, volunteer, singer, community activist and Miss Virginia, Tara Wheeler, is anything BUT an ordinary beauty queen. That’s why she is so excited about her journey on Sunday to sunny Los Angeles, where she will live, laugh, and learn about the 51 other contestants who will be competing with her at the Miss America pageant in January- all in front of the camera.

The TLC network enjoyed tremendous success last year with their ratings on the “Miss America, Reality Check” series, where the audience watched as the contestants were tested in a variety of physical, academic, talent, and other challenges in an effort to display the true character of the ladies, as well as define who the best and the brightest of the group are. The show was so successful that TLC is doubling this year’s number of episodes, and adapting the ladies’ challenges to correlate more closely with their areas of competition.

24 year old Wheeler will be at the Salem Family Fall Festival this Saturday, September 20th, to entertain and mingle with the crowd. She will likely be hoping that she has packed her luggage well, since she leaves Roanoke early Sunday morning for five full weeks of living with, and competing with other ladies hoping to be the next Miss America. All of their activities will be filmed, creating the TLC series, which airs the weeks leading up to the Miss America Live! televised pageant on January 24, 2009.

The Miss America Organization is the world’s largest provider of scholarships for women. Contestants compete in closed interviews, talent, evening wear, onstage question, and swimsuit.

The Salem Family Fall Festival is Saturday, September 20, 2008 at the Salem Farmer’s Market from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. and benefits the Miss Virginia Organization scholarship fund.

Article found here

Monday, September 15, 2008

Blogging outside my normal sphere

A while ago, I saw this article on campus compare, a website that aims to help students understands the ins and outs of the various processes associated with college. This particular blog had written about Miss America, and how it was an alternative for those seeking scholarship funds.

To make the story short, I got to write a blog about my experience as a MAO participant. The people who read this website seemed to have little to no experience with MAO. One of the questions posted under the first blog was someone asking why MAO only gave $50,000 to Miss America instead of spreading the money around.

I always relish the opportunity to share about MAO with others and this seemed like a great opportunity to let young women know about the scholarship options available from Miss America.

Click Here to Read

I'm getting ready for my next pageant in October. I decided that I wanted to give myself some time to adjust to graduate school before jumping back into pageants. It is extremely time consuming being a full time graduate student, trying to balance my classes, the classes I teach as a teaching assistant, and my community service! I'm glad I decided to wait, and don't worry, I'll be back in pageants soon! Thanks for all the emails of support I've received! I'll be attending Miss Roanoke Valley to watch and cheer on Natalie Smith (and any other friends I might have competing!)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Power of the people...

Last week, I had a conversation with one of my good friends from Ohio. This friend has been competing in the American Coed pageant in Ohio for years- we first met each other 7 years ago when she came to cheer me on in the state pageant! She has overcome a lot of health challenges in her life and is working towards a degree in Ohio now.

This is her last year of eligibility for this particular pageant, and so she decided to attend the national pageant in Orlando, Florida. This is a very expensive venture if you were named a runner up as opposed to the state queen (which happened to this girl). I sent this young woman an email with some suggestions of dresses that I thought would really flatter her and encouraged her to invest in a nice one for the national pageant. I thought that a really beautiful dress would give her the self-confidence to propel her from runner up to winner.

When she got back to me, it was clear that the financial stress was getting to her. As much as we love pageants, they can really add up in the expense department! I offered that I would contact other American Coed girls to see if anyone was willing to help or maybe had a dress she could borrow.

The response that I got was really amazing- right away, ten people were offering me their items of clothing for the pageant. Two families offered to make a cash donation. And finally, the big one. An extremely generous girl from the pacific northwest worked with the national office about the situation, and the result is that this young Ohio woman now has $475 paid to her account! That doesn't even include the people who wanted to make cash donations! It was a really wonderful experience to see pageant girls and families pull together, and it really testifies to the statement "It never hurts to ask!"

Sometimes people don't have faith in pageants, and especially the other contestants. "Don't they rip your clothes?" and other questions are common coming from people with no pageant experience. If you have ever met one of the young women competing for Miss Virginia especially, you'll know this isn't true. For goodness sakes, my talent pants literally fell down during rehearsal and if it weren't for the generosity of Taylor Witte, another contestant, I wouldn't have had safety pins to hold them up! Sure, pageants are a competition, but I have never had as much fun as I did during the week in Roanoke. People offering to help one another no matter what the crisis!

This last week asking people to help a young woman who really deserves it was such a good experience. There are so many people out there willing to help us, and it was rewarding to experience that firsthand!

In other news, my teaching assistantship is keeping me extremely busy! I've been asked to write a blog for a scholarship website about my experince with Miss VA/Miss America pageants, so keep your eyes open! I'll link you to it when I'm done!

Friday, September 12, 2008

More posts coming...

More posts are in the works, and my next few weeks are busy and filled with pageant events, so I'll have plenty of pictures to share, but I wanted to take this opportunity to remind everyone that I'm raising money for CMN. For my first pageant, I need to raise $100. I'm getting there slowly but surely, but would really appreciate any help you can give! All those $5 donations really add up!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Painted Babies 2

Tonight I had the chance to watch the TV show on TLC that caught up with two young girls filmed fifteen years ago for a documentary called "Painted Babies". One of the girls was still doing pageants at the time of filming, although I discovered that the other girl, Brooke Breedwell, also competed for Miss TN's Outstanding Teen in 2007.

The show didn't portray pageants as negatively as I had expected. Asia Mansur, the girl who was still competing in glitz pageants at 17, seemed to have a good head on her shoulders. She didn't get angry or upset when things didn't go her way, and both girls talked about the poise they had gained from competing in pageants.

The most bizarre thing about the show was that the same emcee from 15 years ago was still working for the pageant, singing cheesy songs to the girls like "God Bless America" as they completed their eveningwear walks. He even got teary-eyed talking about America on camera, so that part had me laughing out loud (as well as someone's sibling named Treasure) but aside from that, it wasn't as negative as it could have been.

While it was clear that in the younger divisions the moms were pushing a lot of the girls to compete, it was refreshing to see a document that generally just focused on what Asia was doing, how her family got involved, and how Asia had been changed by pageants. The family seemed to support one another and have a lot of fun, so for the first time, I was pleasantly surprised by a TV show about pageantry!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

A new path

The past few weeks of my life have been so exciting and so full of new beginnings.

I just finished grading 64 undergraduate essays! I have to say that there are parts of graduate school that are true to the jokes- I saw a cartoon last week that graduate school is for you if you like speaking in jargon, for example. I am taking a few classes in political theory this semester, and if nothing else, I have certainly determined that I am not a political theorist!

I'm having the most fun teaching my classes,though. Even if I've had a rough day in my theory class, it's so rewarding to head to my class and lead the discussion about international relations for the day. It's such a great reminder of why I'm in graduate school in the first place- to teach!

Since I've had so much reading to do for my own classes, I've had to come up with incentives to get me through the more thick work. I'm reminded of Meaghan, my roommate in England, who once jokingly said "Sometimes I promise God that if he lets me win Solitaire, I'll go do my homework." Some of my readings are so difficult, boring (let's be honest!), or long, that I need breaks every once in a while. Games, doing my own fiction reading, crossword puzzles, doing the dishes-they have all become great breaks from my studies. Another one has been my newest project-my personal website. It's still a work in progress, especially the section on my platform, but I wanted to share it with people. Of course I'll still update my blog, but I wanted to create a general "base" for some of my pictures so people didn't have to sift through old posts.

In any case, I hope you enjoy!

Laura's Website