But can you butcher a sheep?

On January 30, 2010, young geek girls (particularly those of color) did a happy dance.   Caressa Cameron, student at Virginia Commonwealth University and former ugly duckling, rocked it and became our next Miss America.   She is also (for those counting) the eighth African American Miss America. 

This post originally was going to skewer the time-honored tradition of objectifying women (which is does) but I couldn’t help soften at the sight of our current Miss America with stringy hair and braces.  Caressa, I confess, you are MY GAL.  You are proof that not all beauty pageant queens think they can see Russia from their house.

While I didn’t watch the competition (only noting it was going on after a few of you tweeted about it) it did remind me of the greatest pageant I had ever heard of.  The standard Miss America contest consists of the vanilla rounds of swimsuit, evening gown, talent competition and final interview, as well as vaseline on the gums and borderline bulimia.  Contestants do their best to be shiny, poised and fairly uncontroversial in opinion.  Unless you’re this hateful creature.

And while it does require some serious chops and mortification of the flesh to be a contender, it’s a literal cake walk compared to the Miss Navajo Pageant. While this competition has all the usual tenants of teaching young women poise, deportment and other vestigial traits, you also have to speak fluent Navajo, make a fire with sticks and flint, and butcher a sheep.  They even do a handy comparison between Miss Navajo and Miss America, in case you might be confused.

Yeah, you read that right.  Butcher livestock.

I guess we shouldn’t expect anything less from a fierce culture where women wear the pants. The Miss Navajo competition is more a deeply meaningful rite of passage and a way to maintain cultural traditions. (Really makes you question what kind of traditions the Miss America pageant articulates.  Worship of veneers?)  I also really dug this documentary because of one contestant – Crystal Fraizer – a huge tomboy, unabashed about her specialty in raising chickens.  If you ever get a chance to watch the Independent Lens documentary, she also is incredibly inspiring in her quiet conviction and pride about being a Navajo woman.

It’s trite, but I wish standard American culture, regardless of where your parents came from, would be more embracing of these types of traditions.  It is encouraging to see a more diverse cast of beauties (especially since I’m an ethnic and cultural hybrid myself.  Thank you, Tyra Banks.)  But seriously, can you see any of those skinny bitches butcher a sheep?  Hell no.

What use would they be in a zombie invasion?*

Also the great website on the Miss Navajo Pageant features a great fry bread recipe.  You haven’t lived if you haven’t tried fry bread.

*Yes, this is a non sequitur.  But usefulness in a zombie invasion is my new yardstick of utility.  You know you use it, too.


  1. yet again, I am wrassling with Word Press. There are some glaring copy edits. So ticked. WP, I hate you.

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