Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

Miss Utah Gives Funniest Response of the Miss USA Pageant

Did any of you watch the Miss USA beauty pageant last night? Can you believe we still have televised beauty pageants? We do! And sometimes they’re even kind of entertaining, like when one of the contestants says something so moronic you wonder if she even knows how to spell the name of the state she represents. Last night, Miss Utah USA, Marissa Powell, took that honor when she was asked by NeNe Leakes: “A recent report shows that in 40 percent of American families with children, women are the primary earners, yet they continue to earn less than men. What does this say about society?” Powell’s response: “We need to try to figure out how to create education better.” Um, OK.

After the jump, my very favorite beauty pageant moment of all time:


78 comments… add one
  • cdobbs June 17, 2013, 1:05 pm

    i can’t judge….when i have to speak in public my IQ drops about 100 points!

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    • Copa June 17, 2013, 1:43 pm

      I feel the same way about myself. But I’m still judging!

      At the very least, you can tell by the look on her face that she knows her answer isn’t going anywhere. Meanwhile, poor Miss South Carolina doesn’t seem at all aware that her “like such as” speech is flopping.

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    • LadyinPurpleNotRed June 17, 2013, 1:45 pm

      Right, but they spend months upon months training for things, especially for answering a question…they have no one to blame but themselves.

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      • csp June 17, 2013, 1:53 pm

        yes, but you can’t train for panicking. This breaks my heart it is so painful and so public.

      • LadyinPurpleNotRed June 17, 2013, 2:02 pm

        Yeah, but this isn’t their first pageant so I have a hard time feeling bad. If you can’t handle it, don’t do it.

      • GatorGirl June 17, 2013, 2:11 pm

        Goodness, you’ve never had a bad day/flubbed your words at a big meeting/sporting event/social event etc etc?

      • LadyinPurpleNotRed June 17, 2013, 2:17 pm

        To that extent…no…especially something so rehearsed.

      • GatorGirl June 17, 2013, 3:11 pm

        Well you’re lucky because most people make a mistake here and there, no matter how much they practice.

      • LadyinPurpleNotRed June 17, 2013, 3:13 pm

        Mistake is one thing…this was something else.

      • lets_be_honest June 17, 2013, 3:15 pm

        Yes, its called choking.

      • LadyinPurpleNotRed June 17, 2013, 3:16 pm

        Yeah…and I would/and have felt the same way about people in the examples Katie gave below…it’s your job…sure it sucks, but you put yourself in that position.

      • GatorGirl June 17, 2013, 3:18 pm

        Her mind went blank? I mean she’s human, not a machine.

      • csp June 17, 2013, 3:17 pm

        yea, and most of us don’t do it in front of a national audience

      • LadyinPurpleNotRed June 17, 2013, 3:18 pm

        Yeah…but you know the risks going in…you’ve seen it happen before…it sucks, but you chose it.

      • katie June 17, 2013, 2:07 pm

        eh, its no different then a football player blowing a game winning play, or someone with a live show blowing the big final stunt, or when the president flubs words in his speech, or whatever.

        she choked, thats all. they do practice a ton for these things, and have been around the block a few times, but people still choke.

      • csp June 17, 2013, 3:12 pm

        It reminds me of Rick Perry during the debates. How many times had he said the three agencies he would cut. That debate made me want to cry for him.

      • Kate B. June 17, 2013, 6:39 pm

        People on stage make mistakes all the time. The trick is not to let anyone know you’ve screwed up. That takes skill and panache and the ability to think on your feet.

  • rachel June 17, 2013, 1:08 pm

    I mean she’s right. Clearly she is an example of the fact that we DO in fact need to create education better.

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  • iwannatalktosampson June 17, 2013, 1:10 pm

    But she’s so pretty!

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  • genevathene June 17, 2013, 1:11 pm

    Seriously. If women spent a quarter of the energy we do on our appearance, we would have solved cancer, world hunger, and the energy crisis six times already.

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    • genevathene June 17, 2013, 1:12 pm

      “on pursuits other than our appearance” is what I meant. Brainfart.

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    • GatorGirl June 17, 2013, 1:32 pm

      Some of the woman are actually intelligent too. Miss USA 2012 graduated from UCLA I believe and has a foundation to improve healthcare and schools in Africa. Sure some of them are airheads, but there are also intelligent contestants too.

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      • kerrycontrary June 17, 2013, 2:50 pm

        I went to high school with a girl (now a woman) who competed in Miss Teen USA and Miss USA. She’s both highly intelligent and highly accomplished. Like one of those people who is a perfect 10 in brains/beauty/personality. I’d say about 60 percent of the contestants are like that. Most of them are college educated and accomplished professionally and personally.

      • gillociraptor June 17, 2013, 3:03 pm

        I was in graduate school with a Miss Ohio. She was–and continues to be–intelligent, articulate, kind, and driven.

        I know nothing about Miss Utah, but she may be a perfectly intelligent and capable individual who had no idea how to answer that particular question, tried to BS it, got flustered, and failed miserably. She may also just be kind of a ditz.

      • 6napkinburger June 18, 2013, 10:25 am

        I went to a top 10 school with 2 Miss Missouri’s. They both definitely belonged.

    • Copa June 17, 2013, 1:44 pm

      This is such a sweeping generalization, though…

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    • Morgan June 17, 2013, 3:10 pm

      I knew at least 2 or 3 former pageant girls at my pretty well regarded college, and they all also did impressive things academically.

      Although, I’d say the best thing they gained from pageants was the ability to carry themselves intelligently and with grace under pressure so, you know….

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  • lets_be_honest June 17, 2013, 1:12 pm

    I feel like that was SUCH an easy question too. No? She defended herself by saying what happened to the easy questions about world peace.
    I get feeling nervous, but come on. You must’ve practiced for this.

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    • rachel June 17, 2013, 1:15 pm

      Haha, that always reminds me of Miss Congeniality. “Harsher punishments for parole violators…and world peace!”

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      • Copa June 17, 2013, 2:31 pm

        I actually love that movie. Haha. If I ever catch it on TV, I’ll sit and watch the rest of it unless I absolutely cannot.

      • thewriteway June 17, 2013, 3:31 pm

        I have to say my favorite date is April 23rd. It’s not too hot and not too cold! All you need is a light jacket!

      • lets_be_honest June 17, 2013, 3:44 pm

        April 20th is my favorite date. hehe. I’ve never seen that movie.

      • allymac June 17, 2013, 11:18 pm

        “I really do want world peace!”

    • 6napkinburger June 18, 2013, 10:35 am

      I totally disagree about the difficulty of the question!! It is an incredibly hard to answer question (though not that hard to have an opinion about.)

      She only heard the question once, and given the order of the clauses of the question, her mind probably started trying to work out an answer regarding “female breadwinner” and missed the easier-to-be-politically-correct topic of “Fair pay” which came at the end of the sentence, and her mind was already off to the races trying to put together a coherent answer. Regarding the issue of female breadwinners, there is no easy answer tackling that that will be generic enough to please everyone: her mind probably was racing from “good for them — ahh! i’ll be labelled a militant feminist who hates men and middle america will hate me! ok what about “where are the men?” — ditto AND I’ll get slammed by the feminists for insinuating that women need men, plus that will lead me to “two parent households” and then I’ll have to take a side on gay marriage, how did i get here? EDUCATION AND JOBS!”

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  • bcamber June 17, 2013, 1:19 pm

    No kidding, this is not a difficult question – she could have given a simple pad answer and said that demographics are changing, but certain aspects of our society have not caught up yet, and we need to continue to fight for equal pay, or something.

    Like, WTF. she is a woman yet she has no opinion or knowledge of pay discrimination?

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    • csp June 17, 2013, 3:22 pm

      But I think this is a case of “monday morning quarterback”. She doesn’t have time to think of a well thought up arguement. It is a very complex question that she has to think of a quick sound byte answer to.

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    • Lynn June 17, 2013, 8:54 pm

      Um… I don’t have an opinion on pay discrimination because I’ve never experienced it nor do I know anyone who’s experienced it. Besides I refuse to talk about money in real life… quite frankly, I have no business knowing how much my co-worker makes or doesn’t make (I work with mainly women anyway). I think it’s classless to talk about money.

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      • 6napkinburger June 18, 2013, 11:10 am

        If “discussing” salaries within an industry was not “classless”, then pay disparity could be attacked straight on and there is a very good chance it would be eliminated faster. Because it could be litigated and it could be studied specifically, rather than in the aggregate through surveys. The SC held a couple of years ago that a discrimination claim regarding pay based on sex could only be brought within a certain amount of days (I think 60) of the unfair payment, rather than 60 days of FINDING OUT about the payment. Which means that if people don’t talk about their salaries or they aren’t public, there is practically no way to bring a timely suit. Keeping salaries under wraps allows employers to continue pay discrimination (even inadvertent pay discrimination).

        We need to foster a society where pay is discussed openly within an industry.

  • Addie Pray June 17, 2013, 1:23 pm

    I’m too afraid to watch… I’m going to be so embarrassed for her.

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    • Addie Pray June 17, 2013, 1:27 pm

      Also, was it just me or did all the girls like exactly the same, just with different color hair? Their bodies, their tans, their faces — they all looked the same, no? I had a hard time telling them apart. Then Mad Men rescued me at 9 pm, and I misse the gem of an answer that has been blowing up my newsfeed – I still haven’t worked up the courage to watch it.

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      • Taylor June 17, 2013, 1:33 pm

        Loved MM last night. Only one more ep this season, and 14 more ever. I’m in premature mourning over the end of the show, which is ridiculous.

      • Addie Pray June 17, 2013, 4:15 pm

        It was so good! One more season is NOT enough. I don’t understand why they can’t just continue to do this forever, through the years. I want to see Don with bad hair in 15 years in a horrible early 80s track suit.

      • Taylor June 17, 2013, 4:38 pm

        Right?! I just recently found out they shave Vincent Kartheiser’s forehead to make his hairline look like it’s receding, the level of detail in the show is amazing..

      • Addie Pray June 17, 2013, 4:52 pm

        I want to see Sally go to college. I want to see Peggy settle down. I want to see Don finally be happy with a woman. I want to see Joan and Roger just get together already. I want to see Betty become first lady of something important.

  • othy June 17, 2013, 1:33 pm

    As a resident of the decent-ish state of Utah, I apologize for being from a state that produces this kind of trainwreck. And I agree, we must figure out how to create education better.

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  • katie June 17, 2013, 1:55 pm

    oh god they were funny. i always like to watch those pageant shows JUST for the interview questions.

    you know what is ironic about her answer? its actually wrong. the fact that women are becoming the breadwinners more and more, and making more and more money then ever before is because they are getting advanced degrees at a higher rate then men are. so her education-based answer is really sort of incorrect.

    i did feel bad for her… but yikes. and she totally did have the easiest question of the night!

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  • lets_be_honest June 17, 2013, 2:22 pm

    75% off kate spade today!

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    • lets_be_honest June 17, 2013, 2:33 pm

      Ah, the wine/picnic tote is on sale! What do I do? Still unreasonable, or now a must have?

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      • Fabelle June 17, 2013, 3:19 pm

        GET ITTT

      • lets_be_honest June 17, 2013, 3:22 pm

        OK fine! I will, and I promise to toast to you 🙂

      • lets_be_honest June 17, 2013, 3:29 pm

        Just so the record is correct, I could not talk myself into that one, and am already regretting my more reasonable choice. This is what I did get…http://www.katespade.com/pack-a-picnic-champagne-box/098689467559,en_US,pd.html
        How will I carry my wine glasses? Its not like I have hands! Or, maybe this is much better suited for me afterall since I really should just drink right out of hte bottle.

      • Fabelle June 17, 2013, 3:38 pm

        Ooh, that one is adorable too! I approve of your choice 😀 haha

      • GatorGirl June 17, 2013, 3:39 pm

        That is too cute. I wish I had disposable income! I’ll live vicariously through you.

      • lets_be_honest June 17, 2013, 3:42 pm

        I’ve been wanting it for a while now, so at least I controlled myself til it went on sale, lol. Plus I can use it next week, so I felt like the sale + my vacation next week = a sign.

  • GatorGirl June 17, 2013, 1:24 pm

    I agree with everything else the above commenters have said…but can we talk about the hideous dresses for a second? Holy moly where did they find such UGLY clothes. Like this tragic ensemble by Miss PA

    I just don’t get what they where thinking. Strapless rompers? Really? Boobs on full display? And that weird unitard-ballarina-thing Miss SC wore in the ball gown part…wtf?

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  • Christy June 17, 2013, 2:31 pm

    Just want to give a positive shout-out to the Miss America pageant! This article has the main differences: http://www.ibtimes.com/miss-usa-vs-miss-america-theyre-not-same-292303

    Also, ugh, Donald Trump is the worst.

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    • AndreaMarie June 18, 2013, 5:09 pm

      Many girls compete in both pageant systems

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  • Miel June 17, 2013, 2:31 pm

    I’m not a big pageant watcher so correct me if I’m making bad generalization.

    I feel like the contest is still so much about looking pretty (and only mainstream standard beauty by the way), having a nice voice, smile a lot, and be very charming with everyone. The Miss are supposed to be the go-to nice girl. They are pretty in a way nobody could dislike. They have a toothpaste commercial smile. Their hair are all vaguely similar in length and style (never saw someone with shaved hair or dreadlocks !). They know how to walk in an elegant way. They are invested in causes that show how lovely they are, and those causes are always lovely themselves (pageant queen weren’t at Occupy Wall Street I believe). They know how to talk clearly, while smiling, and say things that will please everybody.

    Why are we mistaking ourself thinking they should also be “intelligent” (I put quotation mark because I don’t talk about diplomas or IQ test). The interview questions are always about real society/political issue, and we give them 30 seconds to answer on the go. While smiling ! While pleasing everyone ! While being 10000% politically correct ! They are beauty queen, not journalist or politician. We all know they train for those questions, because it’s still all about “looking good while talking” “not repeating the question that was asked” and those unrelated rules.

    I think if he was still alive, I would put Richard Feynman on a stage and ask him in 30 seconds what he thinks of the NSA or the 40% woman breadwinner or how people can’t locate the US on a map. That guy was great. He was a genius, he had knowledge and wit. I would have liked like to listen to what he could have said in 30 seconds. I really don’t see why a trained beauty queen would have to do the same.

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    • Fabelle June 17, 2013, 3:00 pm

      Yeah, to go along with your “The Miss are supposed to be the go-to nice girl” point, I think half the time the reason why their answers are so hilariously bad is because they’re not ~supposed~ to be that opinionated on any subject? So they have to come up with something so bland that it doesn’t even properly address anything in the question. (Coupled with nerves=disaster) It makes me wonder WHY they even ask the contestants things like this?

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    • GatorGirl June 17, 2013, 3:10 pm

      The biography of Miss West Virginia “Chelsea Lynn Welch graduated from Brown University in 2012 with a 3.9 GPA and a Bachelors of Science in Human Biology. While there, she served as a Presidential Host and as captain of the Brown University Cheerleaders. She currently attends graduate school at the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources at the University of Georgia. She is also part of the Peace Corps Masters International program and plans to serve in the Peace Corps upon graduation.”

      Some of them actually ARE intelligent.

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      • Morgan June 17, 2013, 3:35 pm

        And Miss New Jersey (for Miss America, the more respectable of the two pageants) is a Princeton student!

      • Miel June 17, 2013, 5:06 pm

        Maybe I wasn’t clear with “they should also be “intelligent” (I put quotation mark because I don’t talk about diplomas or IQ test)”

        I know a lot of them have a good academic background, because pageants are always about the whole deal. You need to be pretty on top of having a good resume.

        My problem is “why a bachelor of science in human biology with a 3.9 GPA” should have a deep, challenging, wise and well explained answer to things like “what do you think or 40% of couple having a wife-breadwinner ?”. ”

        Tons of people have good GPA at good universities, but to get good grades, you need to be a good learner, you need to work hard, and you need to be organized. You don’t need to be wise, knowledgeable, articulated and a quick thinker.

        So why again are we asking those questions ? To be able to say “this pretty girl can also say two words in a row, on top of having an amazing body ?” If they have degrees, people should respect that, instead of testing them on things they might not even know or be interested in. It’s technically a beauty contest after all, so why do we care ?

        I have a bachelor in science from a World Top 20 university. I wouldn’t want to be judge on my opinion about the NSA or something like that, because that’s not an issue I know enough about.

      • katie June 17, 2013, 6:46 pm

        honestly, i think its just a thinly-veiled way to say “see, its just NOT about their looks! we ask them a very intellectually stimulating question!”

      • rachel June 17, 2013, 7:11 pm


      • Eagle Eye June 17, 2013, 7:00 pm

        Hmm, yes, I definitely agree with you, personally, I think that pageants are stupid and regressive and that you’re right, asking these questions, which don’t actually mean anything (What to say about women as breadwinners is a stupid question because its deeply complex and its not suitable for a little soundbite – if I want to hear a discussions about this issue I’ll listen to NPR like everyone else I know) is just to make them seem less about how pretty the lady is. Which she is, great, give her a gold star

    • meadowphoenix June 18, 2013, 7:01 pm

      But the point of these questions is not to make some substantive point about the question. It’s to provide a smooth and non-offensive answer, which is what these girls practice doing, and what you also admit is the main aspect of this competition. Trust me when I say they’re being judged on whether they can give a middle of the road answer instead of engaging with the question. In fact, I would venture that truly engaging with the question is the opposite of what the judges want.

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  • Diablo June 17, 2013, 3:19 pm

    For the LAST TIME, it’s not a BEAUTY pageant, it’s a SCHOLARSHIP program!

    Frankly, i have to echo Miss Utah’s assertion that we need to figure out how to create education better, and stuff. Especially for kids that don’t read good.

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    • katie June 17, 2013, 3:53 pm

      haha i love you for this

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    • Christy June 17, 2013, 7:13 pm

      Actually, Miss America was originally created as a scholarship program, whereas Miss USA was created to advertise swimsuits. (This brought to you by the friend of a Miss America pageant girl.)

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      • lets_be_honest June 18, 2013, 9:23 am

        That’s interesting! I didn’t know any of that.

      • Diablo June 18, 2013, 10:54 am

        Christy, your stubborn insistence on confronting me with facts is futile. You should know by now that I have no interest in the truth, unless it serves my nefarious and ill-defined purposes. Also, i have not watched five minutes of any pageant/scholarship program since before we had cable TV in the early 70s. Or the damn Oscars. I mean, I got a life to lead here, folks.

  • Bittergaymark June 17, 2013, 4:52 pm

    Wow. Really? People are still surprised that there are dumb beauty pageant contestants?

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  • Lynn June 17, 2013, 9:01 pm

    I think there are a lot of smart beauty contestants out there… especially those who make it this far. A lot of these women are beautiful, intelligent, incredibly poised and friendly. I’ve met several beauty queens, and they’ve all been very sweet and gracious… almost to where I wish they were my client. And those I’ve met are very articulate and just speak well… especially on camera.

    Unfortunately Miss Utah choked. Have any of y’all ever been on television? Or in front of such a large crowd? Regardless of how much you practice or rehearse… sometimes you choke. It isn’t always a breeze. Too bad she couldn’t catch herself before completely losing it.

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  • HmC June 18, 2013, 12:37 am

    I think it’s silly that we even ask girls in beauty pageants to address serious, complex social and political issues. Are you a contest for superficial beauty or are you auditioning Harvard applicants? To judge a bunch of young girls based on how they look and then throw this at them and then make fun of them for not being super poised and intelligent, especially under a spotlight, seems cruel and bizarre to me.

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    • AndreaMarie June 18, 2013, 5:14 pm

      A former Miss America was a graduate of harvard

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  • Nookie June 18, 2013, 11:43 am

    FYI I put the volume on my computer to hear Ms South Carolina’s answer and my colleague asked me if I was listening to the G8 conference.

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  • AndreaMarie June 18, 2013, 5:11 pm

    She obviously was nervous and bombed. This was a huge moment that she was preparing for an imagining and dreaming about. Not only wa this infront of a theater with several hundred people but it was on TV. Even a PHD candidate at Harvard could fall victim to nerves and fear etc.

    She may very well be an idiot but to judge her intelligence by something like this is equally as vapid.

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  • Addie Pray June 18, 2013, 5:30 pm

    I had fun with this clip – I played just the answer for my mom and had her guess the question. Needless to say, my mom was wayyyy off..

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