Miss Teen South Carolina robbed of title

It was the final round of the Miss Teen USA 2007 pageant, only five contestants left. "This is the round of theTeenusa
competition that ultimately determines their fate," Host Mario Lopez said. "The make it or break it moment. The ladies will have to demonstrate their ability to answer a thought-provoking, final question."

Lauren Caitlin Upton, Miss Teen South Carolina, was first up and drew a question from judge Aimee Teegarden: "Recent polls have
shown a fifth of Americans can’t locate the U.S. on a
world map. Why do you think this is?"

Upton licked her lips briefly, then proceeded to give the most brilliant answer in the history of beauty pageants: "I
personally believe that U.S. Americans are unable to do so
because, uh, some … people out there in our nation don’t have
maps and, uh, I believe that our education like such as in South
Africa and, uh, the Iraq everywhere like, such as and … I
believe that they should, our education over here in the U.S.
should help the U.S., uh, should help South Africa and should help the Iraq and the Asian
countries, so we will be able to build up our future for …" [YouTube video]

What a great answer! I can’t believe she didn’t win. Her answer was superb for five reasons: (1) She used the term "U.S. Americans," acknowledging the existence of other North, Central and South Americans; (2) she explained why so many Americans can’t locate the U.S. on a world map (they don’t have maps); (3) she demonstrated that she can name countries in the rest of the world (South Africa and the Iraq); (4) she showed her concern for the rest of the world, stating that U.S. education should help South Africa, the Iraq and the Asian countries; and (5) she singlehandedly destroyed the stereotype of the dumb blonde.

If you enjoyed this piece, you'll love Melvin's novel Bala Takes the Plunge, available in North America through Amazon.com and McNallyRobinson.com You can also find it at major bookstores in India and Sri Lanka or online at FlipKart, IndiaPlaza, FriendsofBooks or other sites. A number of readers have written reviews of the novel. An excerpt of the novel can be read here.

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