Reflection: Beautiful Woman
Victoria Kindall ‘21
Imagine a stage, that has lights blurred out. Imagine a girl with a crown on her head. She is wearing a green, strapless, ball dress. She has a crown on her head but looks to be placing another crown on top of another girl’s head. This girl is wearing a beautiful, elegant, white, one-strapped dress. Her earrings dangle from her ears like a raindrop dangles from a leaf. Her face looks full of excitement. She is wearing a sash that appears to say America at the bottom of it. Her skin is so smooth, and dark, and beautiful. We can’t see much of her hair, but the part we do see of it is straight. Her eyes seem to be turned in another direction away from the camera, and her hands are placed on herself strategically emphasizing amazement. Her mouth is opened ever so slightly to not show shock but rather to show awe and astonishment. We are unsure of exactly what is going on, but we know this image represents a positive moment.
For centuries upon centuries, black skin has always been hated, and never considered beautiful. People were enslaved because of their skin, people were raped because of their skin, people were abused because of their skin, and people were brutally murdered for it as well. It can sometimes be hard to understand that such actions were taken against a group of people who had no control over the way they were born. Over time things have gotten better, but there still seems to be many issues over racial discrimination. But on the night of September 9, it was that same skin that lit up the faces of Americans all over the country. It was on this night that Nia Franklin was crowned Miss America.
This photo to me represents all of the accomplishments of African American women that go unacknowledged. When someone looks at this photo they will probably get the idea that they are looking at the crowning of a pageant winner, which is only something that can be observed from the surface level. I have no other reason to believe that this is a crown for all women of color. Women have always been viewed as less than their male counterparts, and for a long period of time they were denied many rights such as voting, and their ideas being expressed. The Miss America pageant highlights hard-working women, and through Nia Franklin being crowned hard-working women of color were being honored.
Nia Franklin is a normal girl, who has made extraordinary impacts. She competed in the 2019 Miss America pageant on September 9, 2018 (“Nia Imani Franklin”). This competition itself was historic because it was the first Miss America competition with no swimsuit round (“The New Competition.”). The significance of this was that the competition focused less on the outside appearance of the girls, but instead focused more on each girl’s uniqueness (“The New Competition.”). This was the first competition in which the sizes of all the girls varied because they did not have to fit a certain look. Nia Franklin made extraordinary impacts, not by representing the state New York, but rather by being one of the few African Americans to ever win the crown (“Titleholders.”). Nia Franklin made extraordinary impacts on this competition by using her voice. Throughout the rounds of the competition, she was asked questions, in which she answered with honesty and intelligence. Nia also used her voice in a more literal way during the talent part of the competition. She sang an opera song called “Quando m’en Vo'” from Puccini’s La Boheme (“Nia Imani Franklin”). Her performance was clean, but it was her voice that wowed the judges. Nia’s voice was as powerful as an army of thousands of men but as beautiful as a Spring’s flower bloom. The power in her voice was what captivated the hearts of the judges. It was her voice that was soon be the voice to spark a change.
Even before the Miss America pageant, Nia was always passionate about the arts, and education. Growing up in Nia always felt the need for music. As she grew older she got her masters in music composition (“Nia Imani Franklin”). As Miss America she plans to continue to “advocate for the arts”, to include the arts as an important part of education (“MISS AMERICA 2019 NIA FRANKLIN CROWNED IN ATLANTIC CITY.”). This not only shows us the character of the person in this photo but it also opens up another window for us as viewers of this picture to connect with Nia.
In reflecting on the significance of this photo I have to figure out why it is important to me. Seeing this photo and the Miss America pageant made me feel empowered. I have always been confident about my own abilities, but sometimes what others feel about me can get in the way of me expressing my true self. I will learn how to venture out and try new things, while also spending time on the activities that interest me the most. I have learned throughout life, and by seeing Nia’s personality to take others advice but also do what my own heart and mind lead me to do. Seeing Nia being herself on that stage, and winning the title of Miss America, opened my eyes to see that I will receive my greatest awards when I am being true to myself. The next thing that I can take away from this photo is all of the positive light that is being shed on my race. Very rarely do you hear uplifting stories about the black community. People with the same skin color as me are often associated with terms like, “uneducated”, or “thugs”, but Nia forced everyone to see my race as winners. This picture also gives me a sense of hope, and a push for equality in our country. Seeing the joy on Nia’s face can help you see some good in the country and take your mind off all the bad things happening for a few moments. I feel this shows a push towards equality because as stated this competition was not about looks but rather about how you represent your true self to the audience. This shows a push for equality by not discriminating towards any person for any reason. It is from stories like this that we can appreciate each other's differences, and learn from each other stories.
“MISS AMERICA 2019 NIA FRANKLIN CROWNED IN ATLANTIC CITY.” Miss America 2.0, 2018 Miss America Organization,missamerica.org/miss-america-2019-nia-franklin- crowned-in-atlantic-city/.
“Nia Imani Franklin.” Miss America 2.0, 2018 Miss America Organization, missamerica.org/titleholders/2019-new-york/#request-appearance.
“The New Competition.” Miss America 2.0, 2018 Miss America Organization, missamerica.org/competition/.
“Titleholders.” Miss America 2.0, 2018 Miss America Organization, missamerica.org/titleholders/?fwp_mastatus=yes.