It is quite possible that the world’s largest supply of hairspray, fashion tape, and sequins has descended upon New Jersey, as Atlantic City prepares to host the Miss America 2016 pageant on September 13. However, there is more to the competition than the often mocked glittery gowns and perfectly coiffed hair. With contestants upping their talent game, platforms with a serious purpose being touted, a professionally curated soundtrack, and a judging panel that slays, there are plenty of reasons to get excited about Miss America 2016. Real talk: Nick Jonas is dropping the beats, Zendaya is a judge, and Vanessa Williams is back, y’all.
Miss America is poised to make a splash tonight, brushing off any remaining haters and taking on 2016 at full speed. If you aren’t a pageant fanatic who is currently preparing to host your viewing party, you can still get excited to tune in for the glittering assemblage. This year’s contestants are sure to bring next-level, uniquely modern talents to the stage that show incredible depth and discipline and represent platforms with a body positive purpose. In dynamic duo news, Vanessa Williams is back after more than 30 years and Zendaya is making her judging panel debut. Clearly the bat signal for badass women went up and the call has been answered.
Not convinced that your Sunday night should be spent pageant-watching? Here are just seven reasons you should tune in to the Miss America competition.
1. The Next Level Talents
Debates surrounding pageants may be heated, but it is impossible to argue that these ladies aren't immensely talented. From opera singers to classically trained ballerinas, the Miss America contestants have mastered skills many can only dream of.
This year, people like Miss Colorado Kelley Johnson — who gave the monologue heard round the world about what it means to be a nurse — are introducing new talents that keep the audience on its toes and show the depth of these contestants. These awe-inspiring performances could turn even the most cynical viewer into an interested audience member.
2. Formal Fashion At Its Finest
Speaking of talent, the ladies of Miss America know how to work a runway and pick out a drop-dead gorgeous gown. Take a break from the RTW of New York Fashion Week to drool over the stunning gowns making their way onto the Miss America stage.
3. Zendaya Joins The Judging Panel
Zendaya is basically everything right now. The entire show is worth watching solely to see her slay it, either by wearing something no one else would think to wear or saying something that immediately incites Twitter trends and Instagram inspirations. Zendaya is exactly the type of strong, successful leading lady that Miss America should be associated with as it moves into more modern times.
4. Discussing Platforms That Make A Difference
Sure, there is a great deal of glitz, glam, pomp, and circumstance that surrounds the pageant, but there is also a sincere focus on supporting important causes. While the platforms of all the contestants are worthwhile and honorable, it is amazing to see the work of women like Miss Alabama Meg McGuffin, who is using her pageant platform to help spread a more realistic idea of beauty. Building on her personal struggles growing up, McGuffin is literally smashing scales for her "Healthy Is the New Skinny" initiative, which focuses on the acceptance of all shapes, sizes, and healthy living.
5. Vanessa Williams Is Back
The legendary Vanessa Williams is returning to the pageant circuit as a judge 32 years after being crowned the first African-American Miss America in 1984. Shortly after her victory, Williams gave up her crown amidst a nude photo scandal. Here's hoping the Miss America organization issues an apology to Williams this evening for the events of decades past, which would certainly be something worth tuning in for.
6. Nick Jonas Will Set The Mood
Obviously, my preference would be that Nick Jonas was hosting — who doesn't want to see him in a tux? — but the now solo Jonas Brother being chosen as music curator for the pageant is the next best thing. The vibes the "Jealous" singer gives off on the regular are swoon-worthy, so there is no doubt he'll have little issue setting the proper pageant mood with bae-worthy beats.
7. Girl Power
Whether you are pro or anti pageant, it is easy to remember one thing: This night is about a bunch of seriously kick-ass, talented women who have put their blood, sweat, tears, hearts, and souls into preparing for this competition. This group of ladies is arguably supporting causes that make our nation a better place, and many are living out a dream they have had since they were tiny tiara-wearing tots.
Girl power isn't always about agreeing, but it is always about supporting other babes with a mission and a dream. Tonight, we can all get excited about standing behind 52 ladies proudly and fiercely doing their thing.