A beauty queen, especially one representing a region of “Big D”, must be totally over-the-top, complete with a poofy hairdo, layer upon layer of cosmetics, and flashy attire, right?

Justly or unjustly, any existing unflattering public opinion about beauty queens was only exacerbated by the behaviors of past pageant contestants — will the world ever forget the confused Miss Teen South Carolina, for example, whose nonsensical ramblings about maps and “the Iraq” became a media and internet sensation?

But Miss White Rock Lake, Samantha Stokes, though pretty and polished, is by no means ostentatious, sporting understated makeup, straight long brunette hair, and a high-necked ecru sweater dress. The Texas Tech student smashes any images of a bumbling beauty queen. Moments in her presence and preconceived opinions melt away. Erroneous stereotypes aside, she’s very pageant-esque — well spoken and notably determined to advance along the Miss America pageant circuit.

Miss Teen White Rock Lake, 15-year-old BreAnna Young — also understatedly lovely and personable — is at her side. The Miss and Miss Teen winners of the recent inaugural Miss America preliminary for the greater White Rock Lake area will stick together for the next several months, performing community service and making public appearances at neighborhood schools and civic organizations.
Pageant director Greg Solomon, who also serves as president of the East Dallas Chamber of Commerce, says the women have been selected as “ambassadors from the White Rock area, whom we can expect to represent with pride.”

Solomon, a former director for the Miss Burleson, Texas pageant, was commissioned by Miss Texas organizers to start an East Dallas-area preliminary. Wanting to include the larger area that encompasses Lake Highlands and East Dallas, he settled on the White Rock designation. “The people in this area seem to identify so closely with the lake — it is at the center of the neighborhood and of people’s hearts around here.”

He hopes that through the women’s community outreach, the public will learn that the Miss America program is more than a beauty contest.

“It is the world’s largest provider of scholarship assistance for women, and unlike Donald Trump’s for-profit Miss USA pageant” — wherefrom came the aforementioned Miss Teen South Caroline snafu— “Miss America is for charity,” Solomon says.

“Each contestant must be enrolled in school, show a talent and present a platform,” state the rules, meaning that they must choose a cause on which to focus during the contests and on the public speaking circuit.

Stokes chose the American Heart Association as her charity because she thinks that awareness is the answer to curbing heart disease, and Young chose to focus on diabetes education for personal reasons.

“My Nana had diabetes and my older sister [was borderline], and I understand that it runs in families,” Young says.

She adds that she hopes to educate people about the symptoms and preventative measures. The women will also talk to kids about age appropriate “universal issues such as alcohol and drug use, abstinence and peer pressure,” Stokes says.  

While pageants might have seemed superficial to some, especially in the past, Stokes says they have changed over time.

“The Miss America pageant has grown and progressed over the years in the same way that women have grown and progressed over the years,” Stokes says. “Winners are no longer crowned while wearing bikinis — that’s a good thing. But the pageant is still relevant — the Miss America system represents America’s dreams and goals.”

Both of the women are motivated, also, by a desire to continue their education. “I have four sisters and two brothers, Young says. “That’s tough on my parents and I want to do everything I can to help pay for college.”

Their months-long work in our neighborhood is a fraction of things to come should they advance to the next level. Miss Texas and, even more so, Miss America title holders bear a great deal of responsibility, Solomon explains. Miss America, for example, must put school on hold for a year and commit to about 470 public appearances.

“It’s a little less stringent for the teens, but it’s still a full-time job,” he says.

Miss White Rock Lake, Samantha Stokes, and Miss Teen White Rock, BreAnna Young, will represent our neighborhood in the Miss Texas and Miss Teen Texas pageants, respectively, this coming summer. Should one (or both) take a title, she will advance to Miss America or Miss Teen America, to be held in January 2010. To inquire about Miss White Rock appearances, visit misswhiterocklake.com.