Janet Mock is awesome for so many reasons, particularly because she continually stands up for the rights of women, the LGBTQ community, and people of color worldwide. To say that she's inspiring would be a major understatement, which is exactly why Mock judging the Miss USA pageant actually feels like a step in the right direction for the show. The ardent feminist and trans activist has a lot to bring to the competition.
Still, some people might be surprised that Mock has decided to serve as a judge on Miss USA 2017, as the contest has been described as antiquated. In 2014, The New York Times article called beauty contests like Miss USA "outdated and restrictive and perpetuate a damaging link between real world success and a woman’s capacity to cultivate a very specific, stereotypical definition of beauty."
However, Mock brings a powerful perspective where ever she goes. Her expertise, especially in the areas of trans rights and feminism, will allow her to offer insights that might otherwise be lacking from Miss USA. Mock's forthcoming memoir, Surpassing Certainty, is described as "a portrait of a young woman searching for purpose and place in the world," which sounds like the perfect manifesto for any Miss USA contestant, and just one of the many reasons that Mock is a smart and inclusive choice to judge this year's competition.
When Mock announced the news on Twitter, she wrote, "Excited to champion 50+ women as they live/pursue their dreams!" Judging a contest that celebrates the talents of women from all over America is a major honor, and Mock's approach to judging the competition is potentially exciting. She seems ready to empower contestants, which sounds like the best approach to Miss USA in 2017. In a move that hopefully helps rid the contest of its former shades of sexism, Mock is focusing on the ambitions and dreams of the women taking part.
Another reason that Mock's inclusion on the judging panel is exciting is that her advocacy for trans rights will be given an important platform. On Twitter, Mock has adamantly protested the bathroom bill, drawing on her own experiences as a high school student. She wrote, "To young trans folk: Remember this is your school too. You deserve equal access, affirmation & education. You belong. Nothing is wrong w you." Her refusal to back down in the face of political power is inspiring, and makes her a fierce role model for individuals all over the world.
I can't wait to watch Mock take on her latest role as a judge on Miss USA, championing women everywhere to follow their dreams.