By Alyssa Edmunds
I’ve always preferred game shows like "Jeopardy" over reality TV shows about beauty pageants. However, when I was in middle school, I remember watching "Toddlers & Tiaras" with my mom. It always made me sad to watch because the little girls’ parents placed so much importance on winning pageants and perpetuating ideas of conventional beauty, rather than just letting their daughters have fun and be kids. Most of all, I wondered how the elementary-aged girls on that show ever had time for school and homework.
I realize there exists an entire camp that doesn’t put much emphasis on women and school -- let alone STEM studies -- despite research showing time and time again that women have the same abilities in science and math as men. Furthermore, when women do pursue careers in STEM, they are thought to be less feminine. Camille Schrier, a biochemist and Virginia beauty pageant contestant, shattered that stereotype when she displayed her science skills and looked stunning while doing it, showing that femininity and intelligence certainly do coexist.
For her talent portion of the pageant, Schrier demonstrated the catalytic decomposition of hydrogen peroxide, better known as the elephant toothpaste reaction. She wowed the crowd with the blue and orange foam explosion and was crowned Miss Virginia.
According to Schrier, the Miss America pageant is changing and is no longer a competition that parades women around in bathing suits and mocks their answers to complex questions when they are given less than a minute to formulate an answer. Now, the Miss America pageant aims to focus more on inclusivity and empowerment.
I applaud Schrier for debunking the stereotype that pageant girls are ditzy and brainless and showing that talent can come from academic pursuits. I hope that her win showed young girls that beauty and intelligence are not mutually exclusive.
Alyssa Edmunds is Chemical Processing’s social media intern and a student at The Ohio State University. She is studying Actuarial Science. While she hasn’t appeared on "Jeopardy" -- yet -- she did represent her high school on "Academic Challenge," a televised quiz show that pits Cleveland, Ohio-based schools against each other in a battle of brains.