In a newsroom with less than a month before the election, I’m used to hearing about the latest Donald Trump v. Hillary Clinton story trending online.
What I’m not used to is people asking, “Did this happen to you?”
They were talking about Miss Arizona’s comments yesterday that Trump walked into the dressing room at Miss USA when the women weren’t dressed. Mixing in Trump’s comments on a Howard Stern show back in 2005 when Trump explained that he was allowed to go backstage while the contestants were getting dressed because he owned the pageant and was inspecting it.
At this point, you need to know what my co-workers already knew: I competed at Miss America 2012.
I will spare you from a short rant on the differences between the Miss USA and Miss American programs. But just know that there are differences, and usually contestants’ expectations are for entering each program are different as well. So, my answer came quick, “No. That never happened to me.”
In my experiences at Miss Ohio and Miss America, I don’t remember ever seeing a man in the dressing room. At Miss Ohio, there’s even a woman who stands at the doorframe of the dressing room for the entire week who runs up and down the stairs to relay messages from male directors to the contestants.
I didn’t expect to see the organization’s leader in the dressing room and I didn’t.
But one of my co-workers who sits across from me had a different answer.
She models on the side and competed in the Miss USA program about a year ago. She immediately followed my answer with, “Yeah, I’ve seen men in the dressing room.”
She said during runway shows, men are in and out of the dressing rooms all the time. They aren’t standing and looking around at the models, but are doing hair and make-up or fixing wardrobe. It’s not uncommon and doesn’t bother her.
Our two experiences were different, as were our expectations for the different programs. Throw in every Miss USA contestants’ opinion over the last decade and you’ll end up with stories all over the place. Contestants who were appalled and angered – and contestants who didn’t think twice about it.
It was enough to make our news team decide to dig a little deeper into the conversation – get all of those opinions and let our viewers decide what’s right and wrong.