A devout teenage Evangelical Christian won the Miss America pageant this month in a bikini. That it wasn't her but instead a Mormon contestant who was the only one to wear a one-piece swimsuit led to some searching questions in
The questions centered around what higher good could come from a Christian woman participating in the pageant.
"What would make a Christian Miss America stand out against her pageant peers?" asked Katelyn Beaty in the blog her.meneutics. "Why would a young Mormon woman, but not an evangelical one, dare to buck the ubiquity of bikinis and bronze-tanned skin in favor of something more modest? Can Christian pageant contestants gain the worthy cultural and political influence that usually comes with a pageant crown without losing their souls?"
Miss America 2011 is Teresa Scanlan, 17, who wore her Christianity on her, well, sleeve, pointing heavenward more than once in the her joy and celebration after the announcement. She also certainly believed there was divine purpose to her competing for the crown. "When I found pageantry," she wrote on her
The Christianity Today blogger considered as immodest the bikinis worn by Scanlan and every other contestant but Miss Idaho, Kylie Kofoed, a 19-year-old BYU student with a music scholarship: "In our sexualized visual culture, I'm not sure we can see bikinied women strutting on stage in high heels as anything but hypersexual."
At least in relative terms, Kofoed's platform fit her swimsuit choice (see photos here:
Kofoed's unique choice to shun a bikini drew little other attention, unlike the hubbub four years ago when another BYU student and Mormon, Katie Millar, finished in the top 10 in a
"I wanted to represent BYU, my church, my family and be who I was. I told them at the pageant I'm probably the meatloaf mom from Utah," Millar told the
Like Kofoed, Millar made a conscious decision. "When I did make the top ten," she told
The Christianity Today blogger would like to see more conscious thought given to modesty by Christian pageant contestants.
"But most of all, I hope more evangelical women entering the tricky world of beauty pageants will dare to be conspicuous for Christ — even if that means forgoing those black bikinis or evening gowns with plunging necklines. Faced with the pressure to conform to Miss America's standards of beauty, they might realize that trying to be a modern-day Esther means sacrificing too much self-worth and real beauty for a little bit of power."
Kofoed didn't make the top 10 but was an interesting story. The oldest of 10 children, she is part of her family's singing group E11even, which has an album of
She also listed herself as a member of the BYU women's chorus and a recipient of the LDS Church's Young Womanhood Recognition award.
Her own large family is just the tip of the iceberg. Her
Kylie said she has more than 400 first and second cousins.
To see another photo of Kofoed,