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A crown for Caressa
Hail, Miss America, Caressa Cameron

 Miss America, Caressa Cameron
Visit the Photo Place
Date published: 2/2/2010

When I have a brand new hairdo

--"Flower Drug Song," Rodgers and Hammerstein

SO JUST THINK about the joy of being the girl--Miss America, who for the next year is Caressa Cameron of Spotsylvania County, who won that crown of comeliness Saturday night in competition with 52 other young women, none of whom is exactly a blemish on girldom.

Miss Cameron, a Massaponax High School graduate, became the first Miss America from these parts by impressing judges in the categories of (in descending order of importance): talent, personal interview, evening wear, fitness (i.e., swimsuit), and onstage question. What Miss Cameron won was actually a kind of pentathlon, requiring a well-roundedness that makes the Miss America show more than a "beauty contest." Yet if "beauty" is "any very attractive feature," as Mr. Webster says, there are beautiful aspects to Caressa Cameron uncaptured by the events in Vegas.

Family members say that the swan in the goldenrod gown started out as something of a duckling, who earned the nickname "Teen Wolverine," after the X-Men character, for a "unibrow" and sideburns. Rather than cry into her root beer, Miss Cameron became a pulchritudinous overachiever, correcting these cosmetic annoyances and entering the the female equivalent of Tough Man Contests--beauty pageants. Winning at the local level, Miss Cameron tried for the title of Miss Virginia--and failed. Three times. On the fourth attempt, last year, she won the state crown, demonstrating the virtues of persistence and self-confidence. "All I could do," she told reporter Edie Gross, "was be myself. I didn't go home and change myself."

There's a message there for young womanhood, for all sorts and conditions of "girls," whom the cultural drovers seek to herd down the same trail of uniform superficiality. They should know there are a hundred kinds of feminine attractiveness not dependent for their presentation on magazine covers, microphones, or miniskirts. There are sweetness and wit, goodness and intelligence, character and consideration, impish grins caught by candlelight and lilting laughs and gentle vulnerabilities given voice by the tremulous touch of fingertips. Miss America likely would advise: Enjoy being a girl by being your own girl.

Caressa Cameron was. Happily may she reign.