Okay, now it’s time to discuss that age-old (or should I say five-year-old) debate, “pageant patty” versus the “non-threatening pageant contestant.” Take for example, my pick for the winner, Lacey Wilson, and call her the “pageant patty” and then let’s use the actual winner, Vanessa Semrow, as the “non-threatening pageant contestant.” Now, when I looked at Lacey in competition, to me, she came across as someone who is complete and excellent having the right body, the right look, the right gown, and the right interview as opposed to Vanessa who is just an ordinary girl in every aspect and somehow manages to come out of nowhere and take the crown. But this isn’t a new concept for Miss Teen USA. When you think of all the recent winners of Miss Teen USA, the last one that would universally be described as a “breathtaking beauty” as opposed to an “average girl” would be Shelly Moore, Miss Teen USA 1997. But Shelly would also be what people describe as a “pageant patty”—a girl who has the pageant formula down, the right looks and the right charm but can often be perceived as intimidating. Then, we see girls like Vanessa Minnillo, Ashley Coleman, Jillian Parry, Marissa Whitley, and now Vanessa Semrow, who would prompt girls in the audience watching the pageants that those girls won to think, “Oh, I’m better looking than that girl. Maybe I could be Miss Teen USA.” As a result, teen pageants should get more applications from girls who probably would never thought of entering a pageant before, thinking that they could win it. Is it a marketing strategy? I don’t like to think of it that way but you can’t help but wonder why girls that came out of nowhere to win a prestigious title suddenly won it, leaving behind girls that had much better interview skills and actually worked hard to get an excellent physique. When I think of the title “Miss Teen USA,” I think of a girl that most young girls should aspire to be, but not someone that they already are. In the past, pageants were more of a useful tool that taught people how to give a good first impression but now girls with a tinge of attitude mixed with a sort of ho-hum attitude towards everything, that supposedly look like an average teen are becoming role models for a generation. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t like those girls who won Miss Teen USA. Vanessa Minnillo, Ashley Coleman, and Marissa Whitley all have an admirable spunk. Jillian Parry and Vanessa Semrow have an appealing sweetness about them. All of them may not have been considered strong contenders prior to winning their titles but on the night when it most counted, they won the approval of the judges and that’s all that matters. The suspicion will always be there that trigger certain thoughts (i.e. Marissa Whitley’s parents died when she was very young—did the final judges know this??) but this is a redefined era for Miss Teen USA. Now, I wonder if someone who comes across as a pageant patty will ever win this crown again but those are some thoughts that lingered in my mind that I thought I’d share. Now, on the actual pageant!

This year was a very strong competition with lots of great girls to choose from. The opening number was really great and energetic. The music was catchy too, incorporating the “doo-doo” sounds ala Tina Turner’s “Proud Mary.” The GuyRex team came back to the Miss Universe family and worked their magic rekindling some interest in pageants that was once fading. Of course, we re-established the fact that this was a pageant and not a concert so “Play” and “Bow Wow” got their time singing much better songs as opposed to last year’s performances that seemed to drag on for all eternity. In place of that, we saw some longer versions of the casual chats with the delegates, which is what we want to see!! And cheers to Maria Menounos, who was Miss Massachusetts Teen USA 1996 and placed 13th and Miss Teen USA 1996, who is now a reporter for Entertainment Tonight! Who could forget her trip take when she said, “Now, I’m going to be on national TV—in a bikini, Mom!” The hosts, Chris Kirkpatrick from N SYNC (looking very out-of-shape) and a pop sensation that nobody’s heard of, Willa Ford, were pretty decent. Willa had a lot more energy than Chris did but at least they didn’t try to divert the attention from the delegates. Marissa Whitley also did a great job as an announcer.

As for the top 10, the choices were good. The only real surprise was Minnesota and Wisconsin was picked by a few people. I got 4 out of the 10, plus 3 alternates, and 1 honorable mention. At Miss Teen USA, surprises are inevitable!



Winner=Wisconsin-Vanessa Marie Semrow

Winner=Illinois-Lacey Wilson

1st Runner Up=California-Jennifer Morgan

1st Runner Up=Georgia-Kimberly Ann Harlan*

2nd Runner Up=Kentucky-Tara Elizabeth Conner

2nd Runner Up=Tennessee-Rachel Renee Smith*

3rd Runner Up=Maryland-Michelle Attai

3rd Runner Up=New York-Marley Delduchetto*

4th Runner Up=Georgia-Kimberly Ann Harlan

4th Runner Up=District of Columbia-Glovindria Burgess



6. Connecticut-Ashley Bickford

Virginia-Lauren Barnette

7. Rhode Island-Alysha Castonguay

Washington-Maichal McJunkin

8. New York-Marley Delduchetto

Louisiana-Candice Dontrelle Stewart

9. Tennessee-Rachel Renee Smith

Texas-Brittany Tiner

10. Minnesota-Alla Ilushka

Kentucky-Tara Elizabeth Conner*


ALTERNATES: Utah, Connecticut*, California*, Maryland*, South Carolina


HONORABLE MENTIONS:Rhode Island*, Kansas, Wyoming, Arizona, Michigan


* = made actual top ten

The top 10 looked great in their retro outfits during their introductory walk. As for the evening gown competition, the music wasn’t as great as I was hoping for. It seemed very empty at times. Kentucky came out in the classic teen gown. It was a safe bet and she looked great in it. Connecticut’s gown really drew a lot of attention because of it’s designs and it was also one of the few darker gowns in the group. Tennessee’s orange gown was very suited to this teen competition but I guess the judges weren’t “feelin’ it” because her scores were rather low. New York’s stiff floral gown raised a few question marks after preliminaries but Marley should have picked a gown that moved a little better than a tablecloth. Georgia had a flowing blue gown in which she showed off her modeling moves and won the evening gown competition. The gown matched her eyes and provided a unique contrast with her fiery red hair. Rhode Island followed in another safe white gown. She looked very nice and practically has the same face as Katherine Perello, Miss Texas Teen USA 2001. The judges didn’t really score her too well perhaps because she almost looked a bit too young. Wisconsin scored well with a simple beige number that got her second place in evening gowns. Maryland looked outstanding in her white gown. When I look at her face, I think of Kellie Shanygne Williams from Family Matters. Minnesota’s half satin gown couldn’t really save her and finally California steps out in a champagne ball gown that looked very teen/Cinderella-ish.

For swimsuit, Kentucky looked great with her very fit body and she won the swimsuit competition. Connecticut didn’t score as well however, even though she looked great. Tennessee was severely underscored. I have no idea what happened. Some people suggested that her smile looked a little overdone or that her hips were too big but I think she deserved better scores. New York jiggled her breasts with every step and she showed off her great body but the judges weren’t impressed by it and scored her down too. Georgia looked fantastic and it’s easy to see that she is a successful model. Rhode Island also had a nice fit body and a very nice look overall. Wisconsin looked rather regular. The part I most liked about her was her thighs. Maryland had an excellent body. Minnesota looked okay, I guess. Her head is bit too round, though. California also had a nice lean body with a nice tan as well.

On to the final round of questions with the top 5 (Wisconsin, Kentucky, California, Maryland, and Georgia). Wisconsin said she would eat when she got home. Then, Willa asked her Minnesota’s question which was since Christina Aguilera sings “What a girl wants, what a girl needs”, what do you want and need? Wisconsin wants to be herself, to have a good time, needs to have a good time. Then Willa asks what she needs from a man and Wisconsin replies, “Nothing” because she has herself, her friends and her family. A very good answer. Kentucky went next, dropped the card, and waited for Willa to pick it up and then it turns out that she got her own question. Oh, but wait, did Willa make her pick another question like Daisy Fuentes did to Miss China at Miss Universe? No, she went ahead and just asked her the question, “What is the worst thing about boys?” Now, you would think that since she got her own question she would have something better to say but she said she hates boys with crusty teeth who don’t brush, floss or use mouthwash. I’m really surprised to learn that there are boys running around that have crusty teeth. I guess she was trying to be original but that answer just made me wonder. California picked New York’s question which was to give an example of a generation gap in her family. California said she was the oldest of six children and her youngest sister is six years old and that enabled her to communicate better with the younger ones. It was a sort of in-between answer. Maryland was asked Maine’s question which was “Who would you most like to spend a day with?” Maryland said Oprah because she’s obsessed with her and on Tuesday she watches Dr. Phil and gets all this great advice and passes it on to her friends who in turn say that she is smart and then she either said “I know” or “I’m like, ‘No.’” I couldn’t quite pick it out but whatever she said, it works both ways and it was funny and I was all the more impressed with Maryland. Then along comes Georgia who was asked by Willa to give some dirt on her roommate. Georgia said that when she first saw her roommate’s (Mississippi) picture, she thought they wouldn’t get along but then they became the best of friends. A lot of people misinterpreted Georgia’s little first impression of Mississippi as rather shallow but I thought it honest and I didn’t have a problem with it. Georgia then picked Nebraska’s question asking what her worst characteristic was. She replied that she’s simply always late even if she has two hours to prepare. That’s not really a good trait for a potential Miss Teen USA to have.

The final question was asked, “If you were a guy for one day, what would you do?” I seriously wonder if any of them had mentioned the “p” word or alluded to it in some way, would the judges have responded favorably to it or would that have been an instant cutting ground. My guess is “cutting ground” because that probably would have cost them their G rating. Luckily, we didn’t get any inappropriate answers but rather we had a Californian giggling uncontrollably. Wisconsin said she would simply go out with her friends, spend time with her family and flirt with the girls. Kentucky would wear big baggy clothes since girls have to wear nice things (but do they, Tara??) and she would play drums. California bleated that she would be a sports player since she says she can’t play sports due to lack of coordination and just do what guys do and she confessed that she doesn’t know what guys do. Maryland would stop and think of her thoughts so that the next time that she does something, she’ll stop and think about it, so when she meets a guy and he does something, then she’ll know why. I thought it was an interesting answer. It made me stop and think of my thoughts. Georgia said she would see how many phone numbers she could get from girls and how many cheesy pick up lines, she could use.

Marissa Whitley had a very nice gown on when she said her farewell. Finally, Georgia was announced 4th runner up, which I’m sure the professional model was not pleased with. Maryland was 3rd runner up, although I wish she placed higher. Kentucky was 2nd runner up and after a long wait, California was announced 1st runner up and Wisconsin’s Vanessa Marie Semrow takes the crown. It seemed like a bit of a surprise at the time seeing how all the judges that were interviewed favored California and Kentucky. Nobody can really say they didn’t like Vanessa since she didn’t do anything to make anyone not like her so there you go. Next year, we’re moving to NBC. Until then!