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Another dethroned queen charges Miss America of ageism

From Natalie Christina McGovern's Facebook 

     Early last week, Natalie Christina McGovern, Ms. Nebraska United States 2014, contacted Critical Beauty to inform us that the dethronement of Miss Delaware Amanda Longacre - due to the supposed discrepancy in her age - is similar to hers.

     Natalie writes: "In light of the Miss Delaware being dethroned and the Miss America age controversy, I have a personal story I'd like to share. I competed for Miss Alliance in 2012, a preliminary for Miss Nebraska, and an hour later was dethroned due to the age clause. Although I was 24 I would be 25 by Miss America. I had been given permission by my director to compete because I asked her if I was eligible to compete since the contract wording was confusing, and she confirmed I was eligible. Miss Delaware Amanda Longacre is not the first to be dethroned over age in the Miss America system."

     Natalie gave us permission to repost her story which was originally published in her blogIt is quite upsetting that the Miss America Organization had treated Natalie and Amanda unfairly. I think pageant followers need to know that MAO is not a perfect pageant system as generally perceived by many, and that it is in dire need to extend its age requirement; I think it should be extended to 28! Critical Beauty would like to thank Natalie for sharing her story and we wish her luck as she has testified in Amanda Longacre's lawsuit against MAO that was filed last Tuesday, July 15th. - Rafa Delfin

Saturday, June 28, 2014

     Miss America CEO Sam Haskell has stated that this has never happened before, that a titleholder has never lost her crown due to an age clause. I can attest that this is not true. In 2012 I won the title of Miss Alliance and an hour later I was stripped of my hard-earned title because I was too old at the age of 24. I wrote to Sam and the Miss America Board regarding my incident to extend the age, as it was the first one to ever happen regarding the age eligibility clause. Neither Miss Delaware Amanda Longacre nor I were dishonest about our age. We provided the proper documents. We asked our directors if we met the age requirement to compete and we were given permission.

     A girl’s dream of going to Miss America begins at the local level. I lost my local Miss Nebraska crown after I had competed in three different locals. The first local I ever did I was given distinct permission from that director since I made sure and asked if I met the age requirement. She confirmed with me that I met the age requirement and could compete. I was then allowed to go on and compete in two different locals and I won the third, Miss Alliance. I was awarded a crown, sash, and $200 in scholarship money.
What followed after I won was truly heartbreaking and traumatic for me.

     An hour after I was crowned I was told I was too old to hold the title even after I was allowed to compete in the three locals and numerous people had seen my birthdate, birth certificate and driver's license on paperwork. I was made to turn overmy crown and sash to the runner up and was even promised a crown by the local director who originally gave me permission to compete, but that did not happen. I was told not to post my win on Facebook, and they said it was as if I had never competed and won the title of Miss Alliance, a public event where there were witnesses and the media was present.
 Photo property right of Natalie McGovern
     It was all handled very wrong and it was traumatic for me, as I am still gaining closure. What followed was a period of ostracism in the Miss Nebraska community. People had thought I had a scandal. I had to work to gain back the friendships of mypageant sisters, as many were quick to judge me, including the staff of the Miss Nebraska board. I had to fight to clear my name because I did nothing wrong. I did not lie about my age. I had verified permission to compete.

     After I was dethroned I wrote a letter to the Miss America Organization asking to extend the age due to this incident but I didn't get anywhere. They told me they didn't have plans to change the age requirement back to 26 although they have made changes elsewhere, for example, bringing the pageant back to Atlantic city. Due to some ambiguous wording of the contract, and the reason my director gave me permission in the first place, the wording was changed to be more clear of the age cut off, so my incident supposedly helped to amend the contract. Years later, as with the case of Amanda Longacre, we can see this issue has still been unresolved.

     The Miss Nebraska board involved an attorney whereas I did not have anything to do with litigation; I wanted to take the high road. I was given a letter of apology at my own request, and reimbursed for the $100 I paid out of my own pocket, which was the Miss Alliance registration fee to compete. I was never reimbursed the $200 scholarship money I won, nor was I acknowledged by Miss Nebraska or Miss America as being the winner of Miss Alliance. They too tried to erase me from the system as if I had never competed. This kind of treatment Amanda Longacre has experienced is not unheard of.

     I am the reigning Ms. Nebraska United States 2014 competing for Ms. United States, and I still seek closure over the title I lost. I want to be recognized in the Miss America system as having won this local title, and to not be discriminated against my age when I had full permission. It was not my fault.

Photo property right of Natalie McGovern

     For two years I did not speak of this incident and I tried to gain closure by putting on another crown in several different pageant systems. But when the magnitude of this incident is this big, at this level, and devastates you to your core, you have to say something about this issue to make it right. For yourself and for others involved. I feel since I have been directly affected by this, stripped of my title for no other reason than my age, I have every right to state my thoughts on this issue.
     What is wholly disheartening is the ageism I experienced. Being discriminated against my age is not just cause to be treated like you did something morally wrong. It is not just cause to be judged mercilessly by your peers or pageant officials, especially when they know the truth of what happened.
     I did read the contract, and many that read it may agree that the wording has been completely ambiguous for years. That is why I had confirmed it with my director to begin with because the actual things stated regarding the age requirement were confusing.
     Another thing I might mention that added more confusion was when Miss Alabama 2011
Courtney Porter's age flashed across the screen at Miss America 2012 reading "25." If they would not let someone compete at Miss America age 25 then why did they let her even reign knowing full well she would exceed the age limit?

     I pray for Amanda that she might receive justice and not be discriminated by her age, something that was very painful for me to experience. That she will get the chance to compete for Miss America, something I will never get to do.

Photo property right of Natalie McGovern


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