Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Miss Washington's "Questionable" Photos and More Message Board Mayhem

My heart sank last night when I saw the photo below of Miss Washington, Elyse Umemoto, posted on the anonymous national Miss America message board.

She was a favorite for the Miss America crown back in January thanks to her vibrant personality. She placed Second Runner-up (due in part to a lacking wardrobe, in my opinion).

This weekend she will crown her successor, and for reasons I can only describe as malicious, someone has decided to cast a dark shadow over an otherwise great year by publicizing THIS photo album. It’s one thing to publish questionable photos after a woman is crowned because you feel strongly that she should be dethroned, but why a week before she’s done with her reign?

As for the photos… I think any one of them could singly be rationalized, but collectively, they give the fuddy-duddies a lot of rope with which to hang her. Have we all flipped the bird? Probably. While the oral sex sign (a peace sign with your tongue through it) may be offensive to some, I promise you, it really doesn’t mean anything when done jokingly among friends. I’ve read she was over 21 in the pictures, thus, the alcohol consumption was not illegal. The problem, of course, is that some of these undesirable acts were done while she was wearing a local crown!

I’ve read they were taken B.A. – Before Amy Polumbo; all current and future contestants living After Amy should most certainly KNOW BETTER! Even if you’re among friends, you simply can’t photograph yourself joking around and being “normal” because no matter how well you think you trust your friends in that moment, they may come back to haunt you. I am Facebook friends with Elyse and all her pictures there are "clean." These were clearly taken or collected by someone else who then spitefully created the photobucket album.

So, of course, the message board has erupted around the issue. Frankly, I think the anonymous ugliness is far worse than a 21 year old playing beer pong in a crown…

Everyone has loved Elyse’s personality; whether or not they thought she should have won Miss America, most agreed she embodies the new direction of the program. But now, anonymous posters are like Jekyll and Hyde! Suddenly, she’s a horrible, immoral b*tch and wh*re! I have to laugh at the people claiming “she was so fake.” Um. No, I think it’s the opposite. We liked her because she’s so real; these pictures simply show the fun personality that we embraced in a casual setting, around her friends.

I’m not condoning her actions, just pointing out that many pageant fans are crazed hypocrites. Of course, because I have watched and liked her over the past year, I am more forgiving… Perhaps these were taken during her first local reign, before she understood the program and fully committed to it… I know, I know, some of you will say it doesn’t matter because she had a crown on her head and was misrepresenting the integrity of the organization.

As I’ve expressed before, this is a difficult issue for me. Should pageant contestants be held to an unreasonably high standard (emulating that of 1950’s housewives and causing them to miss out on “normal” college experiences)? Or should pageant fans lighten-up and realize society and the norms of our youth are changing, possibly ending up with titleholders who have done less than desirable things prior to realizing their dreams of paying for college and representing their community, state and nation as the “ideal” IT girl of today? Many fans have no patience for the excuse that a picture captures “normal college behavior.” I’m still torn…

What I firmly believe, however, is that these pictures have nothing to do with the way Elyse was raised. My heart sank when I saw the pictures, but I was completely lit on fire when I read the ramblings of ignorant bigots on the message board claiming that Elyse’s “lack of morals” could be explained by the fact that her dad is gay! WHAT? Whether you think they’re forgivable or not, these ARE normal actions, regardless of being raised by nuns, gypsy’s or anyone in between!

Quite a while ago, my parents told me they were met with disbelief when they told some family members about the beautiful home my significant other and I shared in Ohio. "She lives with her boyfriend! We won't allow our kids to..." My forty-something cousin gasped. "She's 25 and he's wonderful!" My dad defended. I laughed. "I've seen a Facebook photo of their precious, underage angel with a forty of beer literally duct taped to their hand at a party. I could print it out if you'd like to share it...!" (And then I think I had to explain to my mom what a forty is.)

I'm disgusted by beer, let alone duct taping it to yourself; my point is that blaming the parents, let alone their sexuality, shows that you're socially inept.

The more I think about this... I think it's the most shocking case yet. No one really knew Amy Pulombo and her pictures were taken before she was a MAO contestant. Here in Ohio, the local titleholder dethroned for pictures of underage drinking was sort of known as a party girl. But Elyse was the most promising breath of fresh air seen on the Miss America stage in a while. She had all the beauty without any of the fussiness. The same personailty that was "inappropriately" captured in those pictures is exactly what we liked about her. I feel like I could write in circles about this issue for hours!

Perhaps there should be two Miss America pageants - one for the girls who don't drink, have sex or own cameras and then another for the rest of us. I'm sure someone just quipped, "I thought that was the difference between Miss America and Miss USA?!" Sorry, the internet is now proving that is not, and probably never was, the difference!


  1. I loved Elyse! Like you, she was one of my favorite MA contestants this year. I hate when stuff like this comes up!

  2. One word..."trampy."

  3. I loved elyse, too.

    Here's my thing:

    1. it was wrong. And she did apologize. It's unfortunate that this happened.

    2. The same people who claim that Miss America needs to be updated and respected, these same people that follow locals and state pageants like hawks, are the same ones who DISTRIBUTE this information all over the internet. Was it wrong? Yes. Does it actually help the situation to be the person who posts it all over the internet and on pageant message boards so that the story gets to TMZ? No. It's sad it happened, but why be so vindictive to PUSH it out there and further decrease the credibility of Miss America?

  4. Hey, Amy, congrats for making it to the big stage! You are such a sweetie and I wish the best for your future! ;)
    Also, congrats Laura for placing at Miss V! How awesome! I wish you the best, too! ;)


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