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    Why The Miss USA Pageant Needs A Talent Segment

    If English-speaking aliens landed on Earth and the first thing they did was park themselves on a couch and watch the Miss USA pageant, they'd think all we valued about those women was their ability to smile and to walk while wearing a dress and heels. But these women can do so, so much more.

    Isaac Brekken / Getty Images

    One of the most awkward things about the Miss USA pageant is the sportscaster-style commentary about the contestants wearing their sequins and walking to and fro on the stage. Because, unlike a sports game, how much is there to say about that? The most interesting bits are when the announcer delves into the contestants' career plans, non-pageant hobbies, and higher education goals and accomplishments. Yet a contestant is more often than not showered with "praise" about how well she "emphasized her neckline" with an evening gown, or managed to walk with a large train, or had the "confidence" to sashay across the stage wearing a dress made from sheer fabric. "This is a hard gown to walk in, too — I'm really proud of her," was actually something one announcer said during the broadcast.

    If the pageant, like Miss America, had a section where contestants could demonstrate a skill or talent, whoever was tasked with providing background commentary for this thing would be able to call out much less inane reasons to be proud of these women! Evident dedication to the gym aside, they're quite an accomplished bunch. Here, some of the contestants' many talents that you might only know about if you bothered to read each of their 51 bios on the Miss USA site. (Now that I did, you don't have to!)

    1. Miss District of Columbia could dance or perform a cheerleading routine.

    She's been dancing since she was a kid, and now cheers professionally for the Washington Redskins.

    2. Miss Florida can model AND appraise her crown.

    Her bio describes her as an "established model" who has studied at the Gemological Institute of America. If not the crown, looks like she might be able to appraise her embellished coral satin evening dress.

    3. Miss Hawaii can demonstrate cake decorating and then march while playing her alto sax.

    Brandie "loves creating specialty wedding and birthday cakes and participates in various pastry arts courses at the Culinary Institute of the Pacific in Honolulu," her bio reads. Also, she started playing the alto sax in the sixth grade and even marched with it in the Rosebowl.

    4. Miss Iowa can perform some fancy pageant cartwheeling.

    Rebecca started gymnastics when she was 2, become state champion around the age of 13, and has spent two years on the University of Iowa's cheerleading squad despite having no prior cheer experience.

    5. Miss Minnesota can sing with no musical accompaniment.

    In high school Nitaya made her school's honors acapella ensemble. So very "Glee" of her.

    6. Miss Nevada can do an "Everyday Italian"-esque cooking demo.

    Watch out, Giada — Jade is of Italian American descent, and "has developed a love of cooking, and her taste in cuisine is equally diverse," her bio states. (And from a ratings perspective, nothing would thrill the people who hate-watch the pageant more than a hot lady with her fat content cooking Italian food.)

    7. Miss New Hampshire can play guitar while riding a snow mobile and then do some back flips.

    "In addition to her philanthropic work" — with the elderly at hospitals, for instance — "she'll continue pursuing gymnastics, teaching herself how to cook, playing guitar and snowmobiling," the Miss USA site says. Also, she has a B.A. in psychology so maybe she could even give Kelly Osabourne some on-air counseling — somthing that would be far more interesting than watching her wear sparkles.

    8. Miss New Jersey can dance.

    And hopefully incorporate that scepter into her routine. Her bio reads: "Michelle has been dancing since she was three-years-old and has captured numerous titles and scholarships including Miss Teen Starquest, Star Systems Top Advanced Senior Soloist, two time winner of Jump Convention and was a Competition VIP scholarship recipient. She is also a six-time Company Dance scholarship recipient." She may have lost last night but "Miss Teen Starquest" is a seriously more fun title than "Miss USA."


    She has the BEST factoid in her bio: "Jessica is a self-confessed pogo stick enthusiast and once jumped 1,042 times non-stop."

    10. Miss New York can demonstrate yoga.

    She's a "yoga guru," apparently. (Some people think yoga should be an Olympic sport, mind you.)

    11. Miss North Carolina can train a dolphin/sea lion/other sea creature.

    An avid snorkeler and scuba diver, Sydney (above left) "dreams to one day pursue a career in which she can be a performer, either in the entertainment industry or as a marine mammal trainer."

    12. Miss Ohio can ride a horse.

    Audrey led her college equestrian team to two nationals (she also got an equestrian scholarship).

    13. Miss Oklahoma can dance.

    She double majored in modern dance and human relationships, having danced for 16 years prior to entering college.

    14. Miss Rhode Island can play the cello.

    Olivia has been playing cello since the second grade, and played with the Rhode Island Philharmonic Youth Orchestra, RI Philharmonic Chamber Ensemble, Bay View Orchestra and Rhode Island All-State Orchestra. "As a cellist, Olivia won a seat in the Boston Symphony Hall, Carnegie Hall in New York City, and a tour of England in 2010," her bio adds. Also she evidently has a sexy made-for-tv cello.

    15. Miss South Carolina can sing an aria.

    Erika performed in Lyrique en Mer/Festival de Belle Ile in France in 2007; won The Metropolitan Opera National Council auditions for the District of South Carolina; made her solo debut at Lincoln Center in New York two years ago; and performed in the New York Philharmonic’s 2011 production of Janacek’s “The Cunning Little Vixen.” All that and she will unpretentiously hold a squeeze bottle of some kind of sauce standing next to a rival from the north.

    16. Miss Utah can teach the audience zumba.

    Kendyl is a zumba instructor in various gyms across Salt Lake City, and enjoys exercising "to all of the Latin rhythms, especially salsa."

    17. Miss Vermont can demonstrate how someone created this hairstyle for her.

    "Jamie Lynn Dragon is the owner and stylist of Lush Boutique in Stowe," her bio says. "She believes her strongest talent is her work as a hair stylist." Also, she uses her salon, as Oprah would, to empower women to be confident as the people that they are.

    18. Miss Washington can ride a horse, play guitar, sing, and do a cheerleading routine.

    She's also working on getting her masters in psychology. Feel lazy yet?

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