What is the Difference Between Miss USA and Miss America?

What is the Difference Between Miss USA and Miss America?

November 1, 2022
By Kimberly Vernon

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Pageants are an incredible way to showcase the voices, talents, and beauty of young women. In the world of pageantry, both Miss America and Miss USA are household names and considerably to be two of the biggest pageants in the country. So, let’s take a deeper dive into the histories, similarities, and differences of these two legendary competitions.

History of Miss America

Let’s take a trip back down memory lane to America’s first beauty pageant… It’s 1921, at the Atlantic City boardwalk, and the “Inter-City Beauty Contest” is taking place for the first time. Over 100 years later, the Miss America Organization has grown immensely from the boardwalk beauty contest it once was. Today, Miss America credits itself as being “the nation’s leading advocate for women’s education and the largest provider of scholarship assistance to young women in the United States, awarding millions of dollars annually in cash awards and in-kind tuition waivers."

In 2019 Miss America introduced its new rebranding into the “Miss America 2.0” age, and with this rebranding they said bye-bye to the swimsuit portion of competition and leaned more into the social impact initiative aspect of being a titleholder. As a nonprofit organization, Miss America mission is center’s its organization by its four main pillars or “four points of the crown:” Service, Scholarship, Style, and Success.

History of Miss USA

Now, let's take a look at the history of the Miss USA competition. The first Miss USA competition was held in Long Beach, California in 1952 and was launched by a former Miss America sponsor, Catalina Swimwear. The competition was founded after Yolande Betbeze won the title of Miss America 1951, and refused to pose in a swimsuit after winning. Being that Catalina Swimwear was one of the largest sponsors for the competition, this decision was not taken lightly, and Catalina decided to branch off and create the Miss USA competition. Later, Catalina also went on to create the Miss Universe pageant, which today stands as the most watched beauty competition worldwide, airing in 190 different countries. This past year both organizations enacted a major new rule in the competition that now allows married women to compete!

Difference: Areas of Competition

Quite possibly the most distinct difference between Miss America and Miss USA is the competition itself. The Miss America Organization is open to young women between the ages of 17 to 26 while women competing in Miss USA can be between the ages of 18 and 28. In the Miss America competition, the judging focuses less on outward appearance and more on what the candidate does and says. MAO areas of competition include a 10-minute private interview, on-stage question, red carpet, social impact pitch (which is basically a 90 second Ted Talk on the platform of their choosing) and the beloved talent section. Miss USA on the other hand does not have a talent portion of competition, but does have a swimsuit portion, along with evening gown, interview, on-stage question, and in the preliminary competition a state costume show!

Similarity: Focus on FASHION!

Quite obviously our favorite part of any pageant competition is the FASHION! Pageants are all about standing out amongst a sea of outstanding women, what better way to stand out than by wearing a gorgeous outfit? From the trendy orientation looks, to the charming interview outfits, talent costumes, and our favorite evening gowns, fashion plays a major role in both competitions! At Queenly, we are so lucky to provide buyers exclusive access to many past state titleholders closets. Check out some of our favorite listings from our past featured sellers:

Difference: Prize Packet

Both competitions offer life changing prize packages for their winning queen. As mentioned earlier, Miss America prides itself as an organization for being one the the largest scholarship providers for young women in the nation. With this in mind, winners walk away with scholarship dollars to put towards paying for higher education. This past year at Miss America, Emma Broyles won $101,000 in scholarships!

The winner of Miss USA on the other hand, wins the opportunity to advance to compete at Miss Universe! In addition to this, Miss USA also gets to spend her year in the life of luxury, and is provided a Porsche and a penthouse apartment in Los Angeles, California, along with many other fantastic sponsored events and opportunities.

Similarity: Iconic Women

At the heart of both the Miss America and Miss USA organizations are the incredible women who make the organizations what they truly are. This past year at both Miss USA and Miss America we witnessed lawyers, journalists, Ivy League graduates, future doctors, active military members, fashion designers, engineers, and more showcase their accomplishments as modern young women. Let’s take a moment to get to know our two national titleholders, Miss America Emma Broyles and Miss USA R’Bonney Gabriel.

Meet Our Current Miss USA: R’Bonney Gabriel

Image Credit: https://missusa.com/

Meet Our Current Miss USA: R’Bonney Gabriel

At the beginning of October 2022, the stunning R’Bonney Gabriel walked away winning the Miss USA crown in Reno, Nevada. Her win sparked many online conversations from celebrations about her being named the 1st Filipina America to wear the Miss USA crown, to also unfortunate conversations about controversy surrounding about this year's pageant. Nonetheless, R’Bonney did a fantastic job competing at the Miss USA pageant.

Hailing from Houston Texas, prior to being named Miss USA she graduated from University of North Texas with a degree in fashion design. R’Bonney works as both a model and fashion designer for her sustainable clothing line “R’Bonney Nola” (we LOVE a sustainable queen!). In addition to this, she also works with the nonprofit Magpies and Peacocks, teaching sewing to survivors of domestic violence and human trafficking. R’Bonney truly embodies the Miss USA mantra of “Pageantry ReImagined” and we can’t wait to watch her absolutely SLAY at the Miss Universe competition in January!

While many of the outfits worn by R’Bonney were designed and created by herself, her evening gown was created by the fashion designer Rian Fernandez. Her winning evening gown was a floor-length sequined gown with a sexy side-slit. Check out these gowns on Queenly radiate R’Bonney’s style:

Meet Our Current Miss America: Emma Broyles

Our current Miss America is the one and only Emma Broyles. Emma made history this past year as the first Korean American AND first Miss Alaska to win the title of Miss America. Emma is a student at Barrett, The Honors College at Arizona State University where she is majoring in Biomedical Sciences and minoring in Vocal Performance. Speaking of vocal performance, Broyles is an incredible singer, and for her talent at Miss America she sang “Let Me Be Your Star” from the hit TV show SMASH.

Along with being incredibly talented, Broyles is incredibly ambitious, hoping to become a doctor of dermatology one day. At the Miss America competition, the audience and judges alike fell in love with Broyle’s authenticity and heart as she opened up about her own ADHD and dermatillomania (a form of OCD) as well as her experience growing up with a special needs brother and how this fueled her advocacy and work with the Special Olympics. In her crowning moment, Emma wore a beautifully elegant black and white ball gown. Check out these Queenly listings that embody her regal radiance:

Shopping for your pageant should be a breeze! A queen like you deserves the royal treatment whether she’s buying a new dress online or shopping secondhand. At Queenly, we’ve committed ourselves to promoting sustainable fashion while making it affordable for everyone. Join our community of Queens who have listed outfits in their online closet. It’s as easy as signing up for a free account, snapping some pics, and uploading the details- that’s it!

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