Being Miss Maumee Valley

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Dear Abby Q & A: Pageant, Professional and Personal

(Well, I feel like a bit of a hypocrite, having recently stated that this blog had become less about me and more of an information source, yet since that post it’s been all about me!… Nevertheless, the responses I’m about to give are far over due. This is a long one, but you asked for it…)

I always welcome comments and questions to my blog, so thank you to the anonymous readers who asked the following questions as comments to a few recent posts:

Your blog is so informative! I was wondering if you are planning on giving the USA system a go or are you done with pageants so that you can get married (I see a lot on here about your long-term bf)? -OH fan

Yeah, I was wondering about that too? Do you plan to go on to USA? I didn’t know you were engaged?!

Best of Luck! If by chance this doesn't work out, are you looking for jobs in your current area or out-of-state?

Congrats! Will you also be competing in Ohio USA?


Anyone who read THIS article carefully knows I was “considering” competing in Miss Ohio USA. I am now willing to announce that, yes, with the approval of my Miss Maumee Valley directors, I have submitted paperwork and will compete for that title in late September.

You’d think after six years I’d be ready to hang up my stilettos, but I’m just not. Competing has always been in my blood; from entering talent contests as a pre-teen to winning national collegiate Forensics tournaments, a competitor is who I am.

More importantly, I believe in the value of a titleholder. No matter what pageant system it is, I think the bearer of the crown has a great responsibility and opportunity to positively impact a community. Just as I told the Miss Ohio judges in July, “anyone can be impressive from afar, but you have to be up-close to be impactful.” I still want that opportunity to impact Ohioans as an active state titleholder.

Of course, there’s no denying pageants have great potential to open doors for me in the entertainment industry as well, especially the Miss USA/Universe system.

I am very excited, and my apprehensions about competing in a new pageant system are eased by the fact that more Miss Ohio (America) contestants than normal will be “crossing over” this year. Of course, I’m not at liberty to share who I know is competing, but I will say I can’t wait to hang out with them again!


If the fact that I’m competing in Miss Ohio USA surprised you, then you may want to brace yourself for this next part…

My ultimate professional goal has always been to act and sing successfully in a major market, meaning, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago or even abroad. If you had asked me three months ago, I would have said that move would be happening sooner rather than later, but something else has come up…

Those who know me well know that my undergraduate career was not easy. I took a semester off, took semesters part time, had serious relationship woes, changing my major was like an identity crisis, etc…etc… (Thus, helping other students avoid my fate became my pageant platform.) Now, when I entered college (a million years ago) I had grandiose plans of getting a Doctorate in vocal performance, but even obtaining a Masters quickly became an impossible reality for me.

Recently, a wonderful professor and friend has challenged me to believe in myself again and my scholastic dreams. All through college, advisors encouraged me to take Popular Culture classes as an elective, but I could never fit them in. Finally, in my last semester I took Popular Entertainment with Montana Miller, PhD. I could not believe what I had been missing!

Dr. Miller is researching Facebook and its implications; our class became part of her study. She asked us to keep weekly journals documenting our Facebook use. If we didn’t use Facebook much, or at all, we were allowed to select another online community.

I can’t believe I’m about to admit this, but instead of Facebook, I documented the weekly happenings of pageant message boards. Yes, I said it, anonymous, online, pageant message boards! I know they exist, as do most contestants, executive directors, parents and volunteers. However, within the pageant community, it’s taboo to make that admission. I like to compare the treatment of these boards to most high school sexual and substance education classes… You know, how they explain things like a great mystery, but say “never speak of this again, and if you try it your doomed!” And then of course everyone wants to know more and try it! Every now and again in pageantland someone official will say to the parents and contestants, “now, I don’t know if you’ve heard of this… but there are these online discussion forums, but never read them and never ever write anything on them!”

I guarantee, if someone hadn’t heard of them already, the first thing they do is go find them! I was hesitant to bring this up here, because I don’t want to be the reason someone learns of them, in fact, when I call this blog an “informational source” what I really mean is “a better place for people to get the good information without having to also read the trash that gets posted on anonymous boards!” However, I have to believe that if you’re a pageant fan who’s internet savvy enough to be reading this blog, you probably already know about these infamous boards.

I digress… although it’s not exactly her field of study, Dr. Miller has become very interested in pageantry’s place in popular culture; she even attended Miss Northwestern Ohio when I gave up my crown last year and the finale of Miss Ohio last month. Between my backstage perspective and her audience perspective, we hope to produce some writing that could be submitted to scholarly journals. She has also encouraged me to apply to Bowling Green’s Popular Culture Masters program, where my thesis would likely concentrate on internet communities, specifically the social commentary pageant message boards provide.

What I love about Popular Culture, more than any other academic department I ever studied in, is that it does not pass judgment; rather, it asks “Why?” and “How?” something is impacting our society. I am very excited to begin studying for the GRE, then I will apply to the program in the spring and *hopefully* begin next fall. I used to think that I should head off to pursue my acting career as soon as possible, because I could go back to school anytime. However, now I feel it would be foolish to pass up an opportunity to earn a Masters degree from the only Popular Culture department in the country, one which offers full tuition plus a stipend and has a distinguished professor who wants to work with me.

Again, a few months ago I would have never fathomed I’d be in Ohio for another three years, but this feels like the right thing to do. In addition, it allows me to get some much needed cosmetic dentistry done. Obviously, the one year job as the Face of Fox Toledo will be a perfect pre-graduate school fit, giving me plenty of time to study for the GRE and such. Of course, I have yet to secure the position at Fox and begin my grad school application, but I feel really great about this plan of action.


Now, about that boyfriend of mine that many of you have come to know and also love … I’m constantly told “don’t let that one get away.” I know, I KNOW! Loren is an amazing man and I am so grateful to have him in my life. However, this is one area that I’m less than conventional in.

*WARNING: Do not read beyond this point unless you are open minded enough to respect opinions which may not match your own.*

[Above, Loren and I at Maumee Bay State Park, in front of Lake Erie, after a friends wedding last summer.]

Those who know me well know I always say that I’m not getting married until ALL of my family and friends can. It disgusts and confuses me that our government continues to discriminate against people based on sexuality; that is no different than racism. It is simply not acceptable. I do not feel that my love for someone needs to be legally documented; especially by a government that is trying “define” it with hateful laws.

I know what some of you are thinking, “but Abby, you shouldn’t let political motivations run your love life.” I realize that I’m not single handedly changing anything, but this is still how I feel. There are many other aspects of the origin of marriage that I am not comfortable with. That’s just me. I completely respect those in marriages around me. Both Loren and I have parents who have been married for over thirty years; we realize how fortunate we are. I have seen the happiness that marriage brings to many people, but I can’t stand the patriarchal expectation that still exist is our society that being married is a women’s ultimate goal, or even that it’s a pageant contestants automatic next step in life when she’s too old to compete anymore! I don’t mean to come down on the individuals who asked me the question, it’s a question I get all the time, and I always say these same things.

Just a few weeks ago when I was a bridesmaid in my friends wedding we were outside the elevator of the hotel and a little girl walked by with her family and said something cute to the effect of “mommy, can I be a bride someday?” Everyone “ahhhed,” but it made me reflect, I don’t think I was ever like that. I used to draw wedding gowns when I was in my I-want-to-be-a-fashion-designer phase, but I didn’t dream of being a bride, I dreamed of being on television or being a singing sensation! Now I’m not saying you can’t dream about having it all; many women do. What I will assert is that many women see their wedding as their day in the spotlight, their day as Cinderella. (Well, don’t even get me started on Cinderella and how women today do NOT need a man to rescue her…) I want a career that puts me in the spotlight; I’ve had six yeas of being one of the pretty girls on the stage in the pretty gown and “glass slipper” with a crown on my head. I do not need or want a wedding day to feel like a princess. I’ve had pageants.

After I’m asked about this, I’ve had a lot of people give me that look as if they want to pat me on the head and say “it’s a phase you’ll grow out of, darling.” Well, no, it’s not a phase, it’s how I believe. Disagreeing with me does not mean you have to disrespect me by assuming I’ll “come around.” I believe in the adages “to each his own” and “agree to disagree.”

At Miss Ohio I was sitting in the make up room with several chaperones during some down time. Someone asked how long Loren and I had dated, because I said two and a half years the question of marriage immediately followed. I hesitated for a moment because I knew the group of older women in front of me had values different than my own. I respected and enjoyed my time with those women so much that I did not want to say anything that would make them think less of me. Yet, what I value even more about my own character is my candid nature and honesty. I refuse to hold my own beliefs back because they may displease someone else. A conversation transpired similar to the text above and I could see the dismay in some of their faces and their disapproval of homosexuality. I’ll never know if I lost some of their respect, but I gained respect in myself for not giving into the social pressure of the moment.

I know I didn’t have to explain any of this.

I could have just said “yes I’m competing in Ohio USA, I’m hopefully going to grad school and no, I’m not getting married.” But I like my opinions and I’m not afraid to share them or answer anything that is asked of me.

During pageant interviews contestants are expected to have strong views on everything, yet outside of that room we have to be all-pleasing to our public. I think there can be middle ground. I hope I presented my opinions in a firm but non offensive way, just as I would to a pageant judge. I know not all my readers will see eye to eye with my political views, but lets all agree that the beautiful thing about living in this country is our freedom to respectfully disagree.


  • Abby, first of all congrats are in order for making the top three in the Face of Fox job, I have the utmost confidence you will prevail. Secondly, I, too am studying for the GRE's! Yikes! Being a journalism major, I find those math problems a bugger. Thirdly, with respect to you stating your opinions publicly, I find it very refreshing and I really must quote Dr. Seuss: "Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." Enough said. Take care, Abby!

    By Blogger Mary, at 5:16 AM  

  • Well said...

    By Blogger HondaCLS, at 6:08 AM  

  • Abby, Good Luck on Face of Fox. I know for a fact you will do your best in what ever you choose to do in your life. As for your personal life I know your family and friends will go along with your feeling about marriage. But I think they would love to see you get married. But you have to be ready spend the rest life with him. Like your grandparents and parents have over sixty years and thirty years happiness. When that day comes there be tears joy for you and your loveone. Just remember your family will always be there for you. GOOD LUCK and GOD BLESS YOU ABBY!!!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:18 PM  

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