Winners of the top titles at the first Miss Conservative U.S. Pageant pose on stage in Dallas after being crowned. Organizer Ginny Meerman launched the pageant earlier this month because she felt there was a need for a venue where conservative women can express their beliefs while competing in a pageant.
Beauty pageant contestant and coach Ginny Meerman is proud of her conservative beliefs and values.
Yet, according to Meerman, pageant contestants across the country — including herself and the women she has coached — are being met by judges who are less than accepting of their conservative values, blackballing them from competitions and making conservative pageant participants afraid to speak their minds.
Instead of backing down and hiding her point of view, Meerman decided to take action: She launched the Miss Conservative U.S. Pageant earlier this month. It’s her attempt to allow conservative women of all ages to compete in a beauty contest in which they feel free to express their beliefs.
“I wanted to provide a venue for women and young women to shine before everyone and then go out into the community and say, ‘I am a conservative. I am beautiful. We are the foundation and backbone of this country,’” Meerman said at the pageant. “America was built on conservatism, not liberalism, and here we are. Booyah!”
Politics and Pageantry
Pageantry is one of the latest entities that politics has oozed its way into in today’s hyperpartisan environment.
As an example of politics being injected into the pageant world, Meerman points to the 2009 incident when Miss USA contestant Carrie Prejean received a score of zero for a response she gave on her opposition to same-sex marriage as the tipping point for conservative beauty contestants not being judged on their performance, but for their beliefs and convictions.
“We are taught, and I teach these girls, that we are being judged not on our religious beliefs or our political beliefs, but we are being judged on how well we present ourselves,” Meerman said. “That’s what we’re supposed to be judged on. But more and more in past five years or so, I’ve seen that this entity is sort of being overtaken by the liberal movement and liberal-thinking people.”
Meerman said other pageants group women based on race or religion and that her pageant, which groups women based on political beliefs, should be viewed similarly.
“I’m not trying to break it down by race, but there is the Miss Latino pageant, there is the Miss Black pageant, why can’t there be a pageant where conservative women and girls can gather and celebrate who they are and what they believe without fear of being ostracized?” Meerman asked.
The Miss Universe Organization denies that there is any sort of bias toward any political viewpoints in its pageants.
“The Miss Universe Organization instills in its titleholders the value of learning both sides of the debate and having respect for all opinions,” Paula Shugart, president of the Miss Universe Organization, said in an email. “In an era when the general population is subjected only to sound bites and the vilification of individuals with differing opinions, we seek to promote thoughtful, civil discourse. We are proud of the Miss USA Pageant’s history of diversity and acceptance of all women regardless of their religious or political beliefs.”
She did not directly address Prejean’s score of zero for her same-sex marriage commentary.
Embracing the Differences
Meerman, a Maryland resident, held the inaugural Miss Conservative U.S. Pageant on July 7 in Dallas. About a dozen competitors showcased their beauty in patriotic-themed outfits and answered questions about their core conservative beliefs.
Lindsay Sangalli, who won the Mrs. Conservative U.S. title, said this was the first beauty pageant she had competed in. Sangalli said she chose to be a competitor because it was a good platform to showcase the benefits of being a conservative woman in America.
“One side or size doesn’t fit all, and the liberal agenda isn’t for everyone,” Sangalli said. “The pageant sends out the message to women that being a conservative woman or young lady is a choice like any other. If it’s their choice, then they should embrace it, and the Conservative U.S. Pageant is the perfect place to showcase conservative women of all ages and to celebrate conservatism in America.”
Meerman said she has since received flak from others in the beauty pageant community on online message boards.
“I’ve been slammed,” Meerman said. “It’s hilarious. I love it. Keep saying it. They re saying that I’m a racist, that I’m right of Hitler, that I am crazy, that I’m my own worst enemy because I did this.”
Despite the criticism, Meerman plans to continue the Miss Conservative U.S. Pageant and hopes it will grow both in size and name recognition.
“I want to give conservative women — women with values that believe this country needs to return to its conservative roots — give them the opportunity to be out there front and center,” she said.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., carries a musket on stage as he speaks during the American Conservative Union's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor, Md., on Thursday March 6, 2014.