Real Moments: Keeping It Real at … the Beauty Pageant?

When you think about your biggest role model for keeping it real, do you think … beauty pageant contestant?

Me neither. Words like “made up” and “dolled up” come to mind sooner than “authentic” and “genuine.”

Either my stereotypes are way off or times are a-changin’.

If the 2015 Miss America Pageant held this past September is any indication, gone are the platforms of old—and we’re not talking shoes. Many Miss America contestants addressed issues that affected them personally for their public service platforms. And they got much more specific than world peace.

Instead of spray-tanning their lives to appear unblemished, three contestants in particular took very raw and personal tragedies, such as a father’s suicide, a sister’s slaying, and a brother’s substance abuse and subsequent suicide, as catalysts for the issues they would address if they won.

On a more humorous note, supermodel and business mogul Kathy Ireland ditched her polished persona by taking the stage to burp on command. Yes, you read correctly: burp. As a judge, Kathy had been asked to reveal three interesting facts about herself, one of which is that she can burp the ABC’s. Pageant host and comedian Dena Blizzard later asked her to prove it.

Don’t believe me? Watch it here. Kathy’s initial reaction to the dare is priceless … and very real. And Dena’s response to Kathy’s bravery says it all: “You just made supermodels cool. I love you.”

Tragedy or comedy, getting real moves people.