In Defense Of Miss Utah

I'm pretty sure there's a really beautiful woman under all those layers of makeup.

Beauty pageants are a bizarre and creepy world that I was uncomfortably close to for a few months in college, when one of my then-girlfriend’s best friends was competing in the Miss Lane County pageant. Everyone involved went to great lengths to remind us that this was not a “beauty pageant” – it was a “scholarship program,” in which young women spent thousands of dollars on makeup, hair products, clothes, and spraytans for a shot at a $750 college scholarship.

Ever since then I’ve taken a pretty dim view of pageants as a whole – not because I have a problem with judging and ranking women based on their physical characteristics, but because I hate being lied to.

This is a free country: If a woman wants to spend tons of time and money in hopes of publicly being declared more beautiful than other women, she should be able to do that. I just don’t know who pageant organizers think they’re fooling when they call the whole song and dance a “scholarship program” – I’ve received a few scholarships in my life, and none of them required me to parade around in a bikini in front of hundreds of people.

The only reason I bring all of this up is because of Miss Utah, who, in the Miss USA pageant a few days ago, gave a rambling, nonsensical answer to a direct question and became viral enough to wind up on my news feed. Let’s watch, shall we?

Fortunately for Miss Utah, this embarrassing gaffe hasn’t gotten nearly as much attention as the last incoherent beauty queen Q&A viral video that came out when I was in high school. Maybe there’s just more stuff to make fun of on the Internet now than there was in 2007.

So you’ve got the gist of it – a professionally beautiful woman said something kind of stupid. It’s a thing that happens from time to time, and the proper response is to have a laugh and then forget about it until she does a web redemption on Tosh.0 six months down the line.

But this was not enough for Cosmopolitan contributor Rose Surnow, who took to Cosmo’s website on Monday to hold Miss Utah accountable for having the gall to say something stupid in public. Here are some highlights from Surnow’s article:

The gorgeous 21-year-old Salt Lake City native was asked a simple question about income inequality and her wildly stupid answer has already gone viral. Poor creature--so beautiful, yet so simple.” 

“At this point Miss Utah literally stops talking because she is so flustered with PUTTING SENTENCES TOGETHER.”

“She is having such a hard time that the audience actually starts clapping to help her get through it. TO HELP HER GET THROUGH TALKING. Ay yi yi.”

“No, no, Marissa thank YOU. In a weird twist of irony, she actually proves her own point. We do need to "create education better" so beautiful dumb-dumbs like Marissa can speak English without international humiliation.”

You go, Rose Surnow! Hopefully all these vicious attacks on Miss Utah’s intellect will make her think twice before being nervous when answering a question in an internationally televised competition she’s spent the past several years preparing for.

But seriously, folks.

First, if you write for Cosmopolitan you immediately lose the right to call anything or anyone stupid. Cosmopolitan used to feature investigative journalism from the likes of Upton Sinclair and short fiction by H.G. Wells and Kurt Vonnegut; now it’s turned its back on that history to become a glossy sex manual that encourages its teenaged readers to pleasure their boyfriends with glazed doughnuts and once suggested it was impossible to transmit HIV from the missionary position. To criticize stupid people is to criticize the bulk of Cosmo’s readership.

Second, fuck you Rose Surnow, you nasty, frigid bitch.

Did Miss Utah say something stupid? Yes. The words that came out of her mouth made no logical sense, and in no way answered the question she’d been asked. Her answer could be copy-pasted into a Sarah Palin speech and match perfectly.

Does that make Miss Utah stupid? Not necessarily. Everybody says stupid things from time to time – just look at this blog, for Christ’s sake. Also, you’re more likely to say a stupid thing when you’re nervous or under pressure. Not only did Miss Utah know that the answer to her question was going to be judged against 49 other girls’ answers, she was also answering it on live TV.

Rose Surnow isn’t stupid. She knows as well as anybody else that Miss Utah was under a lot of pressure to give the right answer and simply choked, but she still went ahead and wrote a piece deriding her and calling her a “dumb-dumb”* to make this poor woman’s embarrassing moment even worse. 

*Really great writing there, Rose Surnow. “Dumb-dumb” – wow, I’ve got goosebumps! Then again, you’re writing for Cosmopolitan – you’ve got to know your audience. 

Rose Surnow, you’re worse than a bitch – you’re just a bully. You’re no better than the popular girls who laughed at your clothes in high school, or the guys in my middle school PE class who chanted “MVP! MVP!” every time I struck out in softball.

Furthermore, even if you’re balls-on accurate and Miss Utah is stupid, you’re still a pretty gigantic piece of shit for writing the slam piece that you did. So what if Miss Utah is stupid? At least she seems like a relatively nice person, which is one hell of a lot more than I can say for you, Rose Surnow.

The one good thing I have to say about beauty pageants, scholarship programs, or whatever the hell we’re calling them is that participants are coached on their manners and encouraged to be polite. Maybe Rose Surnow ought to join one of her local beauty pageants – who knows? She might learn something.

Truman Capps thinks jerking a dude off with a glazed doughnut is a shameful waste of a perfectly good glazed doughnut.