On the Spot: Woodbury’s Miss Minnesota on Beauty Pageant Flubs
Mary Swenson tells us about answering questions in front of a national television audience.
Beauty pageant contestants have a long history of fumbling answers during the competition.
The latest comes from Sunday’s Miss USA Pageant, in which Miss Ohio Audrey Bolte cited Julia Roberts playing a prostitute in Pretty Woman as a positive female character in film.
Patch asked Woodbury resident Mary Swenson, Miss Minnesota 2011, about pageants and the trouble some contestants seem to have with their answers.
Patch: Did you watch the Miss USA pageant? What was your overall impression of the contestants’ answers?
Swenson: Yes, I watched the Miss USA Pageant this past Sunday. I enjoyed the show and thought it was very entertaining. I especially found the final questions interesting. I thought that overall the girls did a pretty good job with their questions. Some certainly better than others. The winner, in my opinion, did great with her controversial question about non-natural born females being able to become Miss USA. The questions were overall pretty tough!
Patch: Do you think the criticism of some contestants is justified?
Swenson: I think that when you put yourself out there as a pageant contestant, or in a spotlight of any sort, you should realize there will be criticism and judging and comments to be made. It's part of what you sign up for, unfortunately. Often, audiences are quite harsh against contestants. They have to realize how difficult it is to stand in front of a live audience, as well as a television audience, and give an intelligent answer.
Patch: What's it like being on stage trying to answer questions?
Swenson: I actually enjoy being on stage and answering questions. But that's just my personality. I enjoyed speech and debate classes and am talking all the time in my profession as a dance instructor. But, it is nerve wracking, there is pressure to give the "right" answer, and sometimes your mind just goes blank.
Patch: Is there a reason why some of their answers come across as "nonsensical"?
Swenson: When contestants start over-thinking their responses and start mentally searching for the "right" thing to say—things start to sound nonsensical. One noted pageant coach, Don Baker, always says, "Don't think—react. If you think, you're dead.” Of course that's easier said than done, but contestants try to practice speaking from their heart and giving an intelligent response based off of emotions and their immediate reaction.
Patch: What is your impression of pageant entrants in general?
Swenson: I give pageant entrants, of any pageant, a lot of credit! Having gone through it myself, it takes a lot of personal effort, energy, finances, and sacrifices. And of course you open yourself to public scrutiny as with the recent Miss USA pageant. It's a lot harder than it looks and I think that those girls should be proud of themselves for making it that far and putting themselves out there.
Patch: Anything else you’d like to add?
Swenson: The girl who won, Miss Rhode Island, in my opinion, had a great answer. She spoke from the heart and sounded honest and real. I appreciate that in a pageant contestant! It's easy to see fake and practiced answers. She was obviously beautiful, polished, poised, intelligent and I was glad to see her win!